The Sweetest Bully

All Rights Reserved Ashley Simmons 2013

Valentine’s Day sparks a lot of expectations, pressures, and overindulgences. It raises very serious questions like, “Why do some people think that adding pink and red heart wrappings to crappy chocolates will transform them into a symbols of love?”. I like good chocolate and good people. And I love one really good man. It would seem that I would be a wonderful candidate for Valentine’s Day fever, but truthfully I have never connected with the “holiday”.

I generally find that on Valentine’s Day people can be separated into two categories based on how they will “celebrate” the occasion: those who are single and those who are in some kind of romantic entanglements. What about those of us who would like to express love in a more organic and less coerced fashion? Where do we fit in? The only answer I have is we don’t. At least not on February 14th.

For the past four years, I have been in a relationship and have yet to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Each year, either my boyfriend (who has now been upgraded to Husband) or I have had an evening class, work, or some other activity that allowed us to gracefully skip over the day altogether. However, this has made conversations with friends on both sides of the Valentine’s Day dichotomy very awkward.

With single friends, the conversations go something like this:

Single friend: So what are you and Will doing for Valentine’s Day? (They have that overly excited Disney look in their eyes like I’m about to describe something magical)

Me: Well, Will is working so I’ll probably hit to the gym and go the grocery store.

Single Friend: (Deflated they stare blankly as they unsuccessfully attempt to come up with something to make me feel better)

Me: It’s ok. I’m looking forward to having the gym and grocery store to myself. What are you going to do?

This is awkward for several reasons. First I unintentionally steal the pity thunder from the single friend. They no longer feel that they can openly complain about not having someone special to celebrate with on Valentine’s Day. Also, they probably secretly hate me for not taking full advantage of my relationship status on such an occasion. Second, they made really awesome plans with their single friends and now have to scramble to find a way to tell me about it without inviting me because obviously they can’t have a person in a relationship crashing their singles party.

The conversations with friends in romantic entanglements go something like this:

Unavailable Friend: I’m going to surprise Sean with homemade, heart-shaped waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. Then, I’m giving him tickets to the big game later this week. He has a surprise for me Valentine’s night. I can’t wait to find out what it is! (Blah, blah, blah…)

 So what are you and Will doing?

Me: Wow. Well, actually I have class and I’m not sure what Will is up to…

Unavailable Friend: Oh, I guess there is always next year…

This conversation is just as unpleasant as the previous one. While I describe my not-so-grand Valentine’s Day plans, I can see my friend’s body language become very uncomfortable as they secretly question the stability of my relationship. Great. My unavailable friends feel bad for me. All of the sudden I become the object of their unwanted pity, or worse, their personal project. They automatically assume that their significant other is so much better than mine because they have romantic, yet cliché Valentine’s Day plans.

For the fifth year in a row, my Husband and I will not be celebrating Valentine’s Day together. He will be in class again (this time for Grad school), and I will probably go to the gym. I feel very comfortable with this. My husband feels very comfortable with this. But no one else seems to be. How do we explain this to friends on either side of Valentine’s Day? I have no idea.

I understand why so many people feel immense pressure on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is a bully. A big mean unavoidable bully, wrapped up in red and pink cellophane carrying chocolates and flowers. I for one am tired of being bullied.


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