Every year at Primary School, I used to receive a Valentines card marked only with a mysterious and highly exciting ‘X’. I would spend long afternoons looking dreamily at every boy in my class (except for my cousin) trying to guess who it could possibly be from – turns out it was my Dad. Cringe. He would get a neighbour to write my name so that I wouldn’t recognise the handwriting. Double cringe. I should have guessed as they always said ‘Alexandra’ and everyone at school was mainly calling me Alex. I was an idiot.
As I got older and the admirers in my life became more ‘real’ (and after years of receiving zero cards) my Valentines expectations started to grow. Mandatory requirements for a good Valentine’s day were a card, gift and romantic date night; anything less and I was ready to shove Cupid’s Arrow somewhere none-to-pleasant. Yes, I admit it, I was a spoilt Valentines brat.
Let me take you back to one disastrous Valentines. My then-boyfriend and I had been together for nearly a year. He was a Marine. The Royal Marines (not aware of my brattish tendencies surrounding Valentines) put country before romance and sent him away. We were at a point in our relationship where I was pretty involved emotionally and needed to feel the commitment was reciprocated. In other words, only a few weeks before I had said ‘I love you’ by accident (I always say it first by accident – always! Arrgghh!) and he had not said it back – awkward.
This Valentines was the perfect opportunity for me to find out how he really felt. Like an excited puppy I raced to the front door to pick up the post on Valentine’s morning – but no card. It’s ok, I reassured myself, there are probably no postboxes wherever he may be, or shops selling cards for that matter either. Remaining cool and dignified, I did not fling myself at the door later that day when the doorbell rang (I’m aware I’m fooling no-one). Yes, there were flowers (Carnations – hmm). Yes, they were for me. And the card? Baby, Enjoy x – Are you kidding me?
That evening, I received a text from my Cassanova – Happy Valentines Day Babe – hope you liked the flowers? My response – Yes, thanks. Fast forward to that weekend and a boyfriend who is in a massive strop about MY response to his ‘flowers’. Turns out, the florist had a mix-up and I guess somebody else was very pleased to receive my dozen red roses with a card saying ‘To Alex, I love you too x’ (for any doubters out there, he showed me the order). Romantic yes, but for many other reasons we were not to last.
I would like to say that I learnt my lesson, but you can guess where this is going.
My poor husband endured multiple years of my adopted sense of Valentine’s purpose. By this point I had become a self-appointed Valentine’s Coordinator. Basically, I outlined in advance the expectations I required to be met. Stopping short of compiling a gift list and actually booking the restaurant myself, it would not be unreasonable to state that I had sucked all romance out of it. My husband, quite rightly, had had enough. ‘I will not be dictated to about which day of the year I show you I love you.’ he exclaimed. In his opinion, it was his duty as my husband to show me he loved me every day. Yes, we could all be cynical and congratulate him on his rather ingenious way of putting a halt to Valentines, but for whatever reason he said it, he was right and I knew it.
From that day, we have no longer ‘officially’ celebrated Valentines and we have been no worse off for it. Yes occasionally if either us happen to see a card that resonates, we will purchase and give to each other. But that’s where we now draw the line. We are still romantic, but on days when it actually means something to us as a couple.
Take it from someone who got it wrong for so long – There is no harm in celebrating Valentine’s Day as long as you keep it for what it really is – just a bit of fun.
I believe that Valentine’s Day should not be viewed as relationship defining. Regardless of whether you have a partner or not, you shouldn’t measure the love in your life by what you do or don’t receive on this one day of the year.
We should all make sure the people in our lives know that we love them everyday and before we realise it, we will start to feel the abundance of their love right back, and most importantly for a lot longer than a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ 24 hours.