No “Right” Way to Celebrate Valentine’s Day
February 10, 2023
This year, I reached out to a couple of my close friends about spending Valentine’s Day together and indulging in all of the loveliness and corniness of the holiday. We plan to dress up, eat as much candy as we want and just enjoy each other’s company. I’m even getting them flowers (shhh, they don’t know that part yet). Despite not being in a romantic relationship with either of them, I still wanted to show them they are loved and appreciated. Everyone deserves to feel that!
Which leads me to this—everyone can enjoy Valentine’s Day! From being single to coupled up, with a few “situationships” (a casual romantic or sexual relationship that is not more “established”), I’ve spent this day celebrating in different ways. Many of us have felt pressure to be in a relationship on what is known as the “most romantic” day of the year. But you don’t need a date for Valentine’s Day to celebrate.
Tea Parties and Heart-Shaped Pizza
My earliest memories of Valentine’s Day are from elementary school, when my best friend hosted tea parties to celebrate. Her family made every holiday special, but on Valentine’s Day they went all out. Her mom decorated the house with what seemed like a million pink and red hearts. I loved the themed crafts we did and the heart-shaped personal pizzas we made. But after a couple years, the tea parties stopped, and people became busy either spending the day with their significant other or wishing they had one.
I miss how innocent Valentine’s used to feel. It wasn’t about romance but just having fun with friends. I have to remind myself sometimes that it’s still possible to enjoy Valentine’s Day like this. I can have the tea parties, make the personal pizzas and give valentines to those closest to me, despite not being a little kid anymore. The love I felt when I was younger on Valentine’s Day is still there.
Middle School Changes
The idea of being in a relationship didn’t enter my mind until middle school. Relationships then consisted of awkward hand-holding or maybe a quick kiss on the lips before running away in embarrassment. It seemed like everyone cared more about saying they were in a relationship then actually being in one. Somehow it was like this made you more interesting and had the power of boosting your social status overnight.
It became hard for me to enjoy the holiday that I’d loved while seeing couples exchange candy and teddy bears. I started making fun of it while secretly wishing that was me. Everyone in these relationships appeared to be so happy and I felt like I was missing out on an important coming-of-age experience.
However, something I’ve come to realize is that not everyone was in a relationship, nor are they all in one now. It’s OK to be single on Valentine’s Day; the holiday isn’t reserved for couples! Everyone can have fun celebrating.
More Than Instagrammable Moments
The pressure to be in a relationship this time of year can influence people to couple up. But I’ve spent some years in “situationships” on Valentine’s Day and while I thought I’d be happier, I wasn’t. I kept asking myself, “Do I like this person as much as I think I do, or is it just Valentine’s Day?”
I now realize that sometimes the awkwardness of situationships can leave people confused about where they stand. Sometimes these relationships become deeper, but establishing them just for one particular day adds extra pressure.
Speaking of pressure, there’s also people showcasing on social media how they spend Valentine’s Day. Everyone wants to seem like they have the most interesting life, but in reality, it can be stressful trying to make your life “Instagrammable.”
You can’t stop other people from posting, so if you suffer from FOMO, maybe take a break from social media and focus on ways you can enjoy February 14th. Social media is just a snapshot of people’s lives and they’re often showing you one “polished” version of themselves. It’s easy to assume that everyone else is having more fun than you, but that’s not the case.
It’s Supposed to Be Fun
During my sophomore year of high school, I was around two months into a relationship and realized it would be the first time I was dating someone on Valentine’s Day. We were excited, broke teenagers who didn’t care much about what we’d be doing, as long as we were spending the day together.
My partner and I had been friends long before we started dating and were used to celebrating Valentine’s Day with our other friends. After talking, we decided that although we would do a few special things just for us, we would spend most of the day with our friend group. Some people may argue that our choice was a little unconventional, but I had a great time with my girlfriend and don’t regret making the day extra special with our friends as well.
I still opt to spend Valentine’s Day with friends. To help rebuild my relationship with the holiday, staying off social media has been helpful as well.
I encourage you to spend this Valentine’s Day doing something you enjoy. Whether that be spending it with family, friends, a significant other or even just yourself, there is no right way to celebrate love.