Valentine’s Day Comes with Too Much Pressure


Kiera Roux (she/her)

Valentine’s Day Pressure

This Valentine’s Day, the romantic spirit is spreading across campus, leaving single students lonely as they watch their coupled peers engage in festivities. While the definition of Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and affection, this holiday has become too focused on elevating those in a relationship, and induces a feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) for those who are not.

Valentine’s Day used to be a holiday that every kid looked forward to in elementary school due to the platonic nature of it. On the days leading up to the holiday, our classes were filled with fun activities, like decorating boxes for our cards, watching seasonal movies, and eating heart-shaped chocolates. The beauty of it all was that you didn’t have to be in a relationship to give somebody candy or a card; everybody received a little card with Fun-Dip or a Dum Dum, so there wasn’t pressure to find someone to give it to. The night before, you and your parents would get out all of your craft supplies to create a personalized message for each of your classmates, ensuring that everyone has a perfect Valentine’s Day experience. At this stage in our life, everybody got to enjoy the celebration, and the meaning of the holiday was a lot more lighthearted and inclusive. There was no pressure to be in a romantic relationship, as everybody received some sort of “love.”

But of course, like all things, this childhood phase faded away.

Now, fast forward to today, where it seems like not being in a relationship on the holiday is some sort of crime, as if there is an unspoken rule that you must have a serious significant other in order to embrace the holiday. Everywhere a single person turns, they are bombarded with continuous reminders of how they are not in a relationship. Valentine’s grams are advertised all over high schools for couples looking for a way to publicly show their relationship. Pictures of couples together accompanied by a sappy caption fill a single person’s social media feed. Even at school, we have been asked, “Oh, who’s your Valentine going to be this year?” over and over. While this type of comment is usually light-hearted and doesn’t come from a malicious intent, it can be pretty difficult to not feel like an outsider when it seems like romance is the only thing on people’s mind at the time.

In addition, the presence of Valentine’s themed merchandise in retail stores starting on the 1st day of the month also fuels a feeling of shame for those who are riding solo. Walking through store aisles, overflowing with romantic treats and gifts, contributes to a feeling of isolation among people who don’t have a Valentine. Of course, who doesn’t want a giant bag of heart-shaped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Or a cute teddy bear holding roses? While it would be a dream to receive these types of gifts from someone, the reality is, a lot of people aren’t in that position at the moment.

But unfortunately, it seems as though buying these gifts for yourself is socially unacceptable, like it is embarrassing to want to treat yourself instead of relying on someone else to do it for you. The thought of walking up to a cashier with a collection of treats and being asked, “Who is this for?” just to respond with “It’s for myself” haunts those thinking of even trying to indulge in these festive treats.

In order to allow everyone to participate in this holiday, treating yourself or your friends should be normalized. Luckily, terms like “galentine” have become more popular, and recognize those people who don’t have a significant other to spend the holiday with. Instead, it encourages festivities best enjoyed with friends, like a spa day, a fun game night, or a rom-com marathon. All of these are perfect activities that do not require a significant other. Additionally, we believe that practicing self-care and showing love to yourself is also a good Valentine’s Day pastime. There should be no shame in buying yourself some chocolate, and taking some time to relax and destress.

Overall, it is very important to make Valentine’s Day less exclusive and make those without a significant other feel comfortable participating in the holiday. We should all work to include those who are not in a relationship and normalize the platonic celebration of Valentine’s Day.