A holiday that definitely needs some defending

This Valentine’s Day, Bwog wants you to stop grumbling and be happy.  We enlisted Alexander Pines and Alexandra Svokos to cover both sides of the argument—Alexander has barely been single since he was 14, while Alexandra has avoided relationships since she was 14.  Will you please stop posting Adele gifs, please?


Sure you like love, but only in a Jason Schwartzman/Wes Anderson kind of way. Valentine’s Day is too commercialized; some bullshit holiday invented by greeting card companies and florists and the patriarchy to sell heteronormative ideals of romance, bad Ashton Kutcher movies, and the idea that women are “as nonsensical as a Japanese game show.”  Which is bullshit, I agree.

I’ll admit, I haven’t been single since 2008—but guess what? Valentine’s Day is an equal opportunity shitfest regardless of relationship status. First, if you’re lucky enough to get laid, unless the sex is the best sex you’ve ever had, it’s bound to be a letdown. Same goes for dinner. Not only will you shell out at least $50 a plate for a limited menu, but you’ll spend the entire evening staring at people who are not only much better dressed than you, but whose food seems to taste so much better. Didn’t manage to get a reservation in time? That “romantic dinner” in your McBain double at home will almost always turn into a kitchen disaster. One year, I managed to let spaghetti and meatballs turn my kitchen into the Battle of Qarqar, and “hey baby, you’ve got spaghetti on your leg” isn’t exactly top-notch seduction.

So why bother with this nonsense?

My absolute favorite day of elementary school was Valentine’s Day. I’d spend hours in Walgreens agonizing over the right pack of Star Wars/Spider-Man/Batman/Harry Potter classroom sets (shiny or matte, with candy or without? Agonizing choices) and hunch over a printout of the class roster the night before, meticulously assigning my favorite characters to my best friends. The teachers would write vaguely personal comments on hilariously dated cards (I got a particularly traumatizing Aliens one that said: “you’re just as smart as Ripley!” in the fourth grade) and we’d eat ourselves into a chocolate-induced stupor. Think you can’t do that now? Bring your CC class a stack of Kant-themed valentines or print out a set of dictator love notes for your poli sci seminar.

You don’t have to buy into commercial bullshit to celebrate Valentine’s Day, you just have to love someone. Anyone. Make a card for your cat, give your favorite public safety officer some chocolate, finally work up the courage to talk to that cute brown haired, tallish guy taking notes on a MacBook Air in your Econ lecture. Worst comes to worst, you endure a lot of people wearing pink and red all day and have to avoid the influx of Columbia Admirers posts on Facebook. Despite the ridiculous pressure for couples on Valentine’s Day (and yeah, it’s a lot worse to start the day in a relationship and end it single than it is to just not have a date), I love getting the chance to bust out my inner Jack from Titanic. Between midterms and psets and essays and reading and occasionally having a social life, it’s incredibly nice to get a chance to actually take the time to be in love with my partner (making dinner reservations for the 15th helps, too).


The last time I had a legitimate Valentine, I was 14 and there was a huge snowstorm.  School was canceled and my boyfriend couldn’t find his snowshoes to tramp the 8 miles to my house, so I went to my best friend’s house around the corner.  We spent the day walking on a frozen lake and gleefully screaming Semi-Charmed Life to the crisp air and I had a real “this is Valentine’s magic” moment.

Since then, I’ve spent Valentine’s Days alone, single, with girlfriends and baking goods, with my parents, and—yes—with problem sets.  And since then, I have legitimately adored Valentine’s Day.  Blab all you want about capitalism and social constructions, I’ll take any excuse to happily and openly express feeling.  There’s something radically marvelous about a day focused on joy, happiness, and love.  Like Alexander said, you don’t have to be in a relationship to love someone, anyone, in any way.  Hug your friends a little tighter, think of all the people who have been so important in your life, and appreciate it all.

When you walk around campus and see beaming couples holding hands and flowers and teddy bears, don’t think of it as a reminder of your status as “alone” (also fuck that mindset, single isn’t alone), but as a reminder that happiness is all around you.  Make the sight a reminder of how beautiful it is that people can be so content and in love and that it is an attainable thing.  You don’t have to be in requited love to understand and embrace it as wonderful.  The couples aren’t walking around to piss you off; don’t take it as a personal attack.

If you can’t settle into that mindset, there’s always the mystical promise of Valentine’s Day.  If you’re bored by everyone around you, maybe a fancy stranger will appear in Joe’s.  Maybe that friend you hooked up with again will invite you over to drink and laugh. Maybe an old fling will call you up–or at the least SnapChat a dickpic.  Maybe an unexpected friend will make the big gesture.  Ultimately though, when you’re single, nothing differentiates Valentine’s Day from any other day.  But the heightened expectations and sense of love and magic in the air—even if you’re too bitter to sense it—prove that any randomly chosen day can be just as full of potential.  So get off your ass, stop complaining about being lonely and unhappy, and find something—dancing, a movie, exercise—or someone—your friends, the hot guy in the bar, Third Eye Blind, yourself—that makes you smile.  No one, especially not Taylor Swift with a giant teddy bear, can make you feel like shit but yourself.

Don’t let Taylor Swift win.

Candy hearts actually taste like chalk via Shutterstock