It makes us sad. It brings us joy. It keeps us up at night and forces us to do stupid, stupid things. Folks, lend me your eyes as I try my best to offer my insight into why Valentine’s Day, and love, makes us crazy.
As I lie on the couch covered in every blanket I own, with the cat curled in a tight ball against my back and the light from my laptop illuminating the room, I watch, teary-eyed, “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” for the umpteenth time.
I curse myself while I begin to cry, a half-eaten pint of cookie dough ice cream between my hands.
“Really?” I think. “Again?”
I know how this movie ends. I know how it makes me feel. The guy gets the girl then he loses the girl then she tries to kill herself then she leaves then they meet again. The film is a never-ending love story, able to go through all of the motions of both short and long relationships.
So why do I keep going back?
My need for cry-inducing movie-watching bubbles up in my brain when I remember, again, that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. The lonely bug bites again.
“I’m afraid of Valentine’s Day, just because of the traffic. Horrendous on Valentine’s Day,” said Dr. Angela Dedios, a psychology professor at Cal State Long Beach with an emphasis in cultural identity development.
Dr. Dedios explains that Valentine’s Day reminds us of what we don’t have. Damn it.
“For most of us if we want that sort of pair-bonding,” Dedios said. “It reminds us that we don’t have that, and that maybe there are reasons why, and sort of rehashing. That really makes it difficult.”
Love is a tough emotion, maybe the toughest one there is, but V-Day really gets you. The city drapes itself in flowers, chocolates, pink and red, and whether you’re confidently single, dating around or in a solo funk, Feb. 14 is a day of mourning the missed possibilities of spending the day with a mate.
“Valentine’s Day expectations of not just a ‘perfect’ night, but also a ‘perfect’ relationship may make any problems seem worse than they are, causing increased dissatisfaction. Or, the pressure may just intensify negative feelings in an already dysfunctional relationship,” according to clinicial psychologist Dr. Jonathan Fader, on his website jonathanfader.com
So if it’s bad, Valentine’s Day can make it worse.Trying too hard could lead to failure. Something that seems ‘perfect’ could just be a ‘perfect’ lie.
Dr. Fader, we know. Yet we still feed the fire (of love?).
More than half of American ages 18 and older celebrated Valentine’s Day last year, according to a study by the National Retail Federation. And of those Americans, an average of $142.31 was spent that day, $96.63 going toward a significant other.
“Like it or not it’s like a Hallmark king of holiday. Also, I think it’s a capitalist way of having money and celebrating,” said Jaclyn Baiz, a Cal State Long Beach grad with a degree in psychology.
Baiz is a single, 9-to-5er living in Brooklyn. A ‘Galentine’s Day’ enthusiast, she implores young, single women to appreciate their friendships on the 14th. And to get brunch with said friends.
“[Valentine’s Day hype] is a group effect,” Baiz said. “It’s like you’re walking down Times Square and you see a group of people huddled around each other, you are more likely to follow them.”
Valentine’s Day has become an excuse for consumerist citizens to shower their person with gifts. But why just today? Spread out the gift-giving throughout the year. Surprise her with flowers. Surprise him with concert tickets. Make them a nice breakfast, for goodness sakes.
“If you are in a relationship the hype surrounding Valentine’s Day, I think makes it difficult because you know, you have to find the ‘perfect gift’ or there’s the chance that you’ll get something that will make the other person mad at you; it’s not equitable,” Dedios said. “But that’s a reflection of, perhaps, insecurities in a relationship that are there everyday, and not just on Valentine’s Day.”
Yes, I’ll admit, Valentine’s Day can be cute. Yet, it has become another hashtag on our public life-streams; the most significant excuse to do “something special” for him or her.
Folks, stop waiting until the 14th of February. Forget it. It is a blurb of the year. It will end.
So what, you ask, are the things to do to avoid this wretched 24-hour-filled lovefest of expectations?
Do the thing you’d never think of doing: embrace it. Buy yourself flowers. Call your grandmother. Visit you dead grandmother’s grave. See a movie by yourself. If you’re single, and haven’t already this year, date yourself on the 14th. See an old friend, have dinner with your family and clean the cat’s litter box. Remind yourself that being lonely is a choice, and being alone could be the best thing to give yourself this Valentine’s Day.
We get chocolates, but we don’t like nuts. We get flowers, but we know that they will eventually die and we will forget to hang them to dry. We get mixtapes, but we forget to play them.
See? Even when it’s good, love sucks.