9 The gifts
Anybody over the age of about 11 who actually thinks there is something romantic about a cute little teddy bear holding a honey pot or a fluffy heart in its hands and a sorrowful look in its big, clear eyes needs to have a long think about their life. Oh, and turning regular objects pink doesn’t make them a valid Valentine’s Day gift. There is no such thing as a romantic mobile phone cover. There just isn’t.
8 Happy couples
They come out of the woodwork like worms on a rainy day at this time of year. When they’re not going misty-eyed telling you how they have not spent a single day apart since they first met in a stuck elevator, they’re giving you sympathetic back slaps and reassuring pep talks. Look, we’re happy that you and Grandpa are together after 60 years, but would you mind if I hang up Skype and go and make a playlist of my cat’s favourite songs, Grandma?
What could be less heartfelt than squeezing into an overpriced, overcrowded and overhyped restaurant just to be underwhelmed by undercooked food and with somebody who doesn’t understand that you were too busy to book one of the good places? Well, perhaps watching them shovel fistfuls of animal carcass into their mouth as you desperately try and avoid eye contact with the bored waiter handing out plastic roses to every couple in the dining room.
6 Forced romance
It is not enough to have pledged the rest of your life to loving and cherishing somebody at a cripplingly expensive wedding ceremony. The children you have together, the memories of walks in the park and countless hours looking into each other’s eyes mean nothing if you forget/opt out of buying a QR10 card. Ironic text messages, eCards or verbal declarations of love will cut it the rest of the year, but this is a day for big, extravagant gestures.
5 You’re cheap
Somehow in the hundreds of millions of potentially habitable planets orbiting a seemingly infinite number of stars in the vast universe, you are lucky to have found your one true love. And out of more than seven billion humans that happen to be alive at the same moment in history as you in the infinite stretch of time, they love you back. The odds are incalculably against it but you are lucky. Don’t spoil it by complaining about the price of a heart-shaped cookie from a shopping mall kiosk.
4 Social media
Do yourself a favour and just log off on February 14. Deny yourself the trauma of the endless cutesy memes, bitter anti-Valentine’s Day updates, false declarations of independence, pity-Likes and, worst of all, sickening couple’s photos. Bite your lip and refrain from mentioning the fact you know how unhappy they both are and let them have their moment.
They look great to begin with, but before long will bring out your allergies, require excessive attention and, ultimately, wither and die. It is hard not to think of them as a metaphor for relationships.
Rejection, unrequited love and cold-hearted indifference are very real reactions to you opening up your heart and expressing your innermost feelings. Do yourself a favour and keep the affection bottled up inside while you spend a weekend ‘crunching’ (crying throughout brunch).
1 Staying in on your own
You are strong, beautiful and independent. You don’t need a box of chocolates or soppy sentiment to validate your existence and everybody knows you have the confidence, charm and composure of a chat show guest. So why do you feel like spending February 14 hunkered under a duvet in a dark room, scooping mayonnaise directly from the jar and watching romantic comedies and writing poetry?
Alternatively, you could ignore all of the above and just enjoy love. Those butterflies that flutter in your chest and the stampede that crashes through your head whenever someone mentions a special somebody are the very best moments in life. Put the cynicism aside – what the world needs now is love, sweet love.