Op-ed

Ask Ali: Valentine’s Day pressures

Image: “hearts” by emdot is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Urban Dictionary gracefully defines the idea of “being cuffed” as someone who is in a relationship with another person and is no longer looking for outside hookups. However else you choose to label the scenario — taken, tied down, boo’ed up, etc. — there seems to be a fairly noticeable amount of pressure among our age group to have a significant other. 

This pressure seems to further intensify during the winter months, particularly within the months which have relationship-based holidays. For instance, in the next few days, people are most likely going to ask if you have any dates on Valentine’s Day. I can guarantee that no one will ever ask you what romantic things you have planned for the 4th of July.

So where is this pressure really coming from? Why do we feel like we must have someone special in our lives to be able to enjoy or participate in these holidays?

Many people seem to feel as though one reason for this feeling is FOMO, also known as “The Fear of Missing Out.” Thanks to the lovely world of digital media, we now have access to the knowledge of what literally everyone else is doing on special days like Valentine’s Day. 

If newlyweds Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth go on a super romantic outing, we’ll probably know about it. If your best friend’s boyfriend surprises her with one of those gigantic Walmart teddy bears, you’ll probably know about that, too. 

Commercials provide us with knowledge of the cutest spots for a date and gift ideas. Even the most popular streaming services sponsor our love lives by giving us playlists of the romantic movies and TV shows —  in hopes that our V-Day might consist of a bit of Netflix and chill-ing.

My point is, we are faced with the notion that everyone else in the world has something magical and wonderful happening on days like Valentine’s Day, and that if we have nothing planned, we will feel like the only person on planet Earth not having fun and falling in love. 

Many people, especially women, have had enough of the pressure which insinuates that they are only valid once they’ve found a significant other. One of those people is first-year Madelyn Lamotte who has recognized —  especially after coming to college — that putting one’s own happiness first and not buying into society’s coercion is key.

“Just seeing everybody else doing things, going out to eat at fancy restaurants, being all lovey dovey and close,” said LaMotte, “it makes me feel like that’s what’s expected and that that’s what I need to have.” 

After all is said and done, what should be coming first is our own happiness. If dating is your thing and you find a super awesome person that you would love to spend time with on Feb. 14, that’s great and by all means, you should have a wonderful time. However, if that day rolls around yet again and you find yourself on your own, whether it’s by choice or not, that’s right on, too. 

It’s literally just another day.

“If you are in a relationship on Valentine’s Day, that is a good thing,” Lamotte explained. “But I don’t think you need to have that. I haven’t ever actually been in a relationship on Valentine’s Day, and I know that I’m just as happy as if I would have. I also don’t think that being in an intimate relationship has to be the only way for you to be happy on that day. Valentine’s Day can be about showing love to all of your friends and family too.” 

The stress that we put on ourselves to find our one true love while we are young is unhealthy, and so is the idea that we have to have someone by our side in order to enjoy an event or season. 

When it comes down to it, we know ourselves the best and we know when the timing is right for things like relationships and love. We are our own true BFFs. 

So if you find yourself with someone this Valentine’s Day, be safe and have the best day ever. And if you’re single, buy yourself a box of chocolates and some roses and let’s show Cupid who’s boss. 

Ali Kochik is a first-year student English major. AK908461@wcupa.edu

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