At the risk of angering my younger self — who fancied herself “hard,” what with her love for heavy metal and affinity for whiskey — I must admit that I am a sucker for all things romantic. Put on You’ve Got Mail and pour me a glass of wine, and I’ll be sobbing into the sleeve of my “Bakers Wanna Bake” sweatshirt like the sucker I am. But my dirty little rom-com-loving secret cannot erase one undeniable truth: I hate Valentine’s Day. Hate it.
The forced public displays of affection? The pink-and-red-themed, drastically overpriced three-course meals? The pressure to smooth over the jagged edges of your relationship for one day (because, yes, there isn’t a romantic partnership that isn’t imperfect)? Yeah, hard pass. I’ll gladly soak up unrealistic storylines about two rivals-turned-lovers because it’s fiction (and, I mean, at its core, You’ve Got Mail is a story about catfishing but we love it! It’s entertainment!). But applying these rom-com style displays of love, admiration, and borderline-creepy lust in real life? I don’t think so.
Here’s how many of us hate Valentine’s Day.
My hate for all things cupid-related isn’t uncommon, either. In 2017, Elite Daily surveyed 415 men and women, ages 18 to 35, and found that 28 percent of women and 16 percent of men “think Valentine’s Day is an excuse for people to humble brag about their relationships.” The same survey found that 35 percent of men and 28 percent of women feel apathetic about the holiday. And, of course, there are those of us who simply despise it, including these six people who spoke to O.school about their disdain for the so-called “most romantic day of the year.” Turns out, there are plenty of reasons to tell Cupid to go, well, you-know-what himself.
1. The pressure of showing up for your partner on one specific day of the year.
“I'm a sucker for anything cute or romantic, so for most of my life, I really loved Valentine's Day. (If I had a valentine, that is. Otherwise, it was sh*t). The older I’ve become, though, the more I notice the downfalls of Valentine’s Day. The pressure of showing up for your partner for one specific day in this huge showy way, and the idea that if you don't have a valentine, something is missing from your life? I don’t know, just sounds like a hoax to me. So I wouldn't say my partner and I avoid Valentine's Day, but like any other sane person in their 30s, we avoid going out on any holiday (because crowds and upcharged "special meals").
This year, February 14 happens to fall on our weekly date night, so we will likely do what we do every Friday: make our way through a few bottles of wine while listening to music, dancing in our kitchen, and making some super delicious vegan food.” - Rebecca, 30
2. It was inspired by a holiday where men would beat women to help their fertility.
“I have a love-hate relationship with Valentine's Day, but I mostly hate it and what it means to a lot of couples. I don't celebrate [the holiday] and avoid going out on the day/on the weekend after, for a lot of reasons.
First, Valentine's Day is a capitalistic holiday, meaning people think expensive gifts or dinners are proof of love or a healthy relationship.
Second, it was inspired by a Roman holiday where men would beat women to help their fertility.
Third, social media has generally created a sh*t show for relationships. It's no secret that social media often only shows the positive parts of someone's life, and the same goes for their relationships. Holidays like Valentine's Day then become a sort of social media performance where people feel better or worse about themselves or their relationships by posting photos from the day or from seeing other people's photos.
Fourth, holidays like Valentine's Day are strange to me because you should do and say nice things for your partner year round. What is so different about going out to dinner on Valentine's Day (when most restaurants charge more, might I add) than any other day of the year? Relationships are about so much more than grand gestures or gifts, and all of that is left out of Valentine's Day. Healthy relationships require regular communication, meeting needs, fostering individuality outside of the relationship — this is the kind of stuff I wish people would discuss more on Valentine's Day. If it became a holiday about recognizing healthy/unhealthy relationships, I'd be all for it. - Jo, 27
3. It’s horrible for service-industry workers.
“It took some time to convince [my partner] that I really didn’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s just a Hallmark holiday to me and, for a while, we were both working in the service industry, so it’s not like it was easy or worth it to get the night off. And what most people would probably do on Valentine’s Day (love letters, flowers, small gifts, etc.), we do throughout the year for each other when we feel like it, not because of an over-commercialized day of the year.” - Maxine, 24
4. Everything is so overpriced.
“I love the idea of a day designated to celebrate your loved ones — family, friendships, romantic partnerships. But every time I'm in the grocery store the day before or morning of Valentine’s Day, I see men in the card aisle, grabbing overpriced roses, armed with a box of chocolates that will go 50 percent uneaten, and it just makes me sad. I hate how commercialized it's become; how it became a competition of which woman can post the best Instagram photo of the superfluous, meaningless shit her man got for her. It feels like a day that was supposed to be about intimacy has become another vessel for couples to get social media validation for how great their relationship is. And, if it were really that great, wouldn't the social media validation not be needed?” - Cameron, 28
5. Otherwise terrible partners just feel obligated.
“I don’t celebrate because it’s a day that terrible boyfriends/husbands/partners feel obligated to do something for their significant other — not because they [actually] want to, but because ‘everybody’s doing it.’
Five years ago, I started dating someone who had a child. and we made up a special game for her that ends with a present. We stay home, have dinner, and play more games together, like any other normal night. Throughout the year, we will do random date nights with each other or with her child and show each other love, just because that’s what we do. Not because society is forcing it.” - Jenna, 29
6. It calls out single people.
“I hate Valentines Day. [One of my] major objections is what it does to single people. It is not cool to out someone as single at work by putting them on the spot and asking them what they're doing for Valentines Day, and no one should feel like there's a day of the year where they have to be coupled. Being single isn't something to be ashamed of, but the choreography of V-Day is for couples only, and that shames single people.
I also have practical objections. It is super inconvenient to have to do this on the same day as everyone else. Reservations are harder to get than normal, diners seem stressed and put on the spot, the waitstaff is overworked and would rather be somewhere else.” - Nina, 32
And hey, if you do love Valentine’s Day, that’s cool too. After all, it’s just day. Regardless of how you feel about it in the end, at least there’s half-off Valentine’s Day candy for sale at the store on February 15th.