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Making Valentine’s Day work for you: COVID 2021 edition

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Trends? Pass. Create a Valentine’s Day that works for you and your partner(s) or friends. Rebuke materialism for love, both platonic and romantic

It’s easy to feel frustrated with Valentine’s Day if you have a partner, or partners, if you’re not making it work for you: the creeping sense of dread as it approaches, the daunting prospect of the cash that is going to erode through your fingers when you can’t afford it; the grudging hand-over where you explode comically into childish rage within 30 seconds when they don’t lavish quite enough praise on the item. Then realising you’re an arse, pleading forgiveness for the next hour.

This year more pressingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has left many individuals without livelihood, with most of us likely unable to even see our partners this Valentine’s unless we live with them, or decide to do a socially-distanced climb up Dumyat for a desperate fumble, drenched in hand sanitiser.

Many individuals are not even in the same country as a loved one, something that those in long-distance relationships have had to contend with pre COVID, yet makes it no less easy to not be in person with someone. Even more important then, to create your inherently unique Valentine’s experience that works for you and yours!

You’ve all heard the notion that “Valentine’s Day is just a capitalist gimmick to make you spend money on pink and red rubbish; real love is ALL THROUGH THE YEAR.”

Well dissenters, it is possible to have your cake and eat it, as many will know. It’s taken me seemingly 600 years and an incredibly questionable buffet of relationships to achieve, but I’m in that “we-do-Valentine’s-AND-are-sickeningly-power-coupley-supportive-goals-all-year-round” relationship and I deserve it because I’m very old. You can dare to darken a commercialised card store and write an entire Dungeons and Dragons sex scenario completely free of charge within the same day. Trends who?

Valentine’s Day should never be solely about money in my opinion; but sometimes great experiences together cost the dough, like backpacking through Germany trying to get into Berghain through the bathroom windows, or learning archery in a charming comedy Robin Hood hat. This year, this angle is more difficult to achieve to say the least, but not impossible. You just have to get back into the state of imagination that let you play pretend when you were a kid with such aplomb, or get make-shift about it.

From surprising your partner by jumping maniacally out of a snowy bush and instigating a brutal snowball fight, to ordering them a remote Greggs off JustEat for a fiver, there’s ways to work this if you abandon this notion of ‘convention’, which many people already do in their relationships regardless of Valentine’s Day or not.

I’m a massive fan of creating memories and experiences, learning new skills and growing together with friends and lovers alike. As opposed to simply accruing a host of generic expensive Valentine’s paraphernalia, or treating Valentine’s Day like another Christmas where you set a precedent of spending ever-increasing wads of cash on each other throughout the year.

Each to their own though, this isn’t prescriptive, but discursive – and clearly specific to myself and my partner’s own tastes.

Individuals having to content with screens can choose to modify a whole host of experiences into a Zoom friendly environment. Just watch if you are throwing snowballs at yer expensive laptop. Better still, use polystyrene for this virtual battle.

Valentine’s Day for myself and my partner is simultaneously a sexy occasion where we attempt to invent increasingly whimsical and saucy adventures for each other (like a semi-nude treasure hunt, or going to see that appalling Sonic film, inevitably acting scandalously when realising you are entirely alone because no one wants to see it. Ever. Especially not for Valentine’s Day), but also just kind of similar to a regular day of seeing one another, with added creativity.

Which brings me to the main point: Valentine’s Day should be about what works for you, your budget, and your tastes, or you’re basically doing it wrong to your own detriment. There’s no official Valentine’s SparkNotes you have to follow, no matter what it in trend, or what ludicrously expensive purchases influencers or celebs are wapping out for their partners for the social clicks.

This also heavy applies if you are single. No matter what you think, you don’t just want a partner for Valentine’s Day. YOU should be too busy spoiling and pampering yourself, doing whatever you like. Valentine’s Day should ideally be great because of who you are with, not really because it’s Valentine’s Day. I’ve said Valentine’s Day so often it seems wrong and bizarre now. Help.

This year, my partner and I have actually chosen to postpone Valentine’s Day because we are both drowning in work. Dates might be useful for generally being you know, on time in life, keeping track of the man-made world; but to view them inflexibly, rigidly conforming to this notion that you have to do things on the exact holiday, especially during a pandemic, is just restrictive and potentially stress-inducing when it doesn’t need to be.

I still of course deliver primo 2am romance despite this.

“Sophisticated” snow art. Image Credit: Rachel Swan

We decided that rather than feeling restricted and attempting to squeeze our type of Valentine’s Day into a block of time that was already actual heaving with academic activity, why not just… not? Wouldn’t be the first time. (The dude was literally like “I’ll need to revise all the next day to be able to do this… I’ll TRY and put it out my mind.” I could feel the dreaded sense of a clock ticking on me like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. Begone!)

This is something that for some people is really obvious and probably sounds crackers that I’m reiterating it, but some people do place a great deal of emphasis doing things ‘on the day’ and can get stressed or disappointed if it doesn’t come together – if you’re in the former camp, I see you, and good job.

I can’t divulge too much of what I’ve planned specifically – he has spies everywhere – but I do want to emphatically declare that it will be to our tastes, to our finances, with little regard for what others are doing other than to say ‘d’aaaaw’ at and ask about later, especially in the cases of seeing what our friends have been up to. We do care, just not in a ‘comparing-yourself-to’ way.

And if your Valentine’s Day needs to be postponed until even further away? It’s still romantic. It’s still valid. COVID-19 has turned every aspect of our lives on its head in a whirlwind of rotisserie action. There are so many more things to be concerned about than having an extremely late or modified Valentine’s Day, yet I would encourage everyone whether in a relationship or not to continue to make the time to be social, whether virtually or if you are getting out for some snowy wanders.

It might not be the end of the world to have to alter your plans, but it’s imperative to give yourself little things to look forward to, whether its a sexy video call to an amorous associate, watching movies alone or with company listening to the howling elements outside, or creating a virtual fighting game tournament, insisting on your own entrance music blaring over Zoom whenever you take the controller. Naruto headband optional.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you sexy minxes; whatever you’re doing, do it for you. Or St Valentine will be after you.

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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