A conversation with a V-day cynic

Another year, another round of meaningless conversations with people who feel entitled to interrogate you on on your love life. As the dreaded V-day approaches yet again, here’s a look at just some of the questions that we sceptics are forced to deal with.

“Are you doing anything nice for Valentine’s Day this year, Sam?”

I’m not, no.

“Oh, why not? Is your girlfriend away or something?”

No, I don’t ‘celebrate’ Valentine’s Day.

“What do you mean you don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day? It’s a day about love!”

It didn’t used to be. The Feast of Lupercalia was celebrated in Rome between 13 and 15 February where men would sacrifice goats and dogs before whipping women with the hides of slain animals. You may find that hot… my girlfriend doesn’t.

“What are you talking about? It commemorates the death of St Valentine”

Yes, a day which the Catholic Church combined with the Feast of Lupercalia to try to eradicate paganism from the Roman empire. Do you even know why St Valentine was martyred?

“Um, yeah… didn’t he marry Christian couples in secret or something?”

No, he was executed for proselytising in the still pagan Roman Empire. Even if he was wedding couples in secret it certainly wasn’t for romantic reasons – marrying for love is a recent, Western phenomenon.

“That doesn’t matter, it’s about love now! Why won’t you do get on board?”

Because consumerism hijacked it several decades ago. We’re told it’s about love by people who want to sell us things. It’s all about splashing out on an expensive dinner or jewellery for your loved one, not romance. Besides, the way some couples get so competitive and try to outdo each other makes me sick… love is far more than material gestures and trinkets.

“Oh, I see what this is about – you’re too cheap to spend money on your girlfriend! You can’t love her that much?”

I have so many problems with this statement. I think I know better than everyone else when it comes to the subject of how I feel about my girlfriend, but the fact you’re trying to use the amount of money I’m spending as a barometer for my affection speaks volumes about the societal expectations surrounding Valentine’s Day. I’m opposed to all of this because I refuse to endorse an occasion which literally puts a price on love. My girlfriend and I aren’t superficial enough to buy into that – if I could win her heart with a lavish dinner at Pierre Victoire then I wouldn’t want it.

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“Aren’t you even going to buy a goofy card or one of those adorable teddy bears?”

Absolutely not, they generate an enormous amount of waste every year. Do you think everybody holds onto their cards of teddy bears? No, by next year they’ll all be recycling or land fill – why even bother going to the shop in the first place?

“Buy her flowers then, at least! Unless there’s something wrong with that too?”

There is actually – most of the flowers we buy for Valentine’s Day are coming from Kenya. A single rose requires ten litres of water to grow to its full size, which is a massive drain on already scarce water supplies. Those air miles won’t do the environment any good either.

“Fine, be a stick in the mud over Valentine’s Day – I’m going to get wasted with my other single friends!”

This epitomises how parasitical an occasion Valentine’s Day is: there’s nothing wrong with being alone. Yet if you are alone, it can feel as though there’s something wrong or intrinsically unlovable about you if you don’t have plans on V-day. I mean go ahead and get drunk if you want, but all it demonstrates to me is that it bothers you that no one’s asked you out.

“Don’t talk to me.”