Rachel Wallace just isn’t that in to Valentine’s Day. It’s nothing personal; it just doesn’t make much sense to her.
“In my opinion, the romantic day worth remembering is an anniversary,” Wallace says. “That actually carries personal meaning.”
She didn’t always dislike the day. In fact, Wallace thought Valentine’s Day was romantic when she was a kid and she couldn’t wait to celebrate it with someone some day.
“As I grew older I came to feel a bit lonely when I didn’t get the gifts and attention that I learned to expect,” she says. “But it didn’t take too long to realize that I’m not interested in being told by popular opinion what my wants are. Since then I’ve realized what a selfish holiday it is now and that’s where the dislike comes from.”
READ MORE: Valentine’s Day in Canada by the numbers
And while she can see why the day might appeal to some, Wallace feels the day is often made a bigger deal than what it is.
“I don’t think people should feel horrible to be alone on Valentine’s Day because it’s supposed to be about love as a concept and not about your own current status,” says Wallace. “I don’t think the strength of a relationship should be measured by the level of effort put into a celebration of the one day.”
Listen, not everyone likes the mushy lovey-dovey stuff – let alone an entire day dedicated to it and its lovesick followers. All those little candy hearts with cute messages, bunches of red roses and long gazes into your lover’s soul is enough to make any realist roll their eyes.
What can we say; sometimes Cupid’s aim is a little off and he misses his target. It happens to the best of us.
But Wallace isn’t alone in her dislike for the commercialism – uh, I mean the romantic day.
A quick search of the words “I hate Valentine’s Day” on Twitter shows millions of tweets from folks who have a poetic hatred for the upcoming day.
(Roses are red, violets are blue; here are just a few people who hate Valentine’s Day as much as you).
Hundreds – if not thousands – of Facebook groups and events can be found on the social media website that either provide a forum for other like-minded folks to vent or are invitations to anti-Valentine’s Day parties around the world.
So if you hate V-Day, just know you’re not alone.
While Valentine’s Day does have history behind it, many people feel the day has become more about consumerism and less about relationships and love.
According to a 2015 survey by digital coupons website RetailMeNot.ca, 78 per cent of Canadians feel Valentine’s Day is an overrated occasion.
When it comes to single people, the day’s popularity is on the decline – especially when there are more days for couples to celebrate more than ever (think cupcake day or international spouse day), says sexologist and relationship expert Dr. Jessica O’Reilly. She also speculates that Millennials lack of long-term relationship commitments may be playing a role.
But that doesn’t mean the day is dead for married couples. For relationship therapist Nicole McCance, she still sees a lot of couples celebrating.
“I usually hear single people referring to Valentine’s Day as annoying more than couples,” she says. “But I think it’s as popular for couples. People want to feel special so they do want to celebrate it still.”
Lovers are about to drop some serious cash in the days leading up to Feb. 14.
Canadians in particular spend an average of $164 on Valentine’s Day, RetailMeNot.com says.
In terms of gifts, this is what Canadians are buying and the average price they’re paying:
And the pressure is on, especially for men (80 per cent of Canadians tell RetailMeNot.com that they agree men are more pressured on Valentine’s Day). In fact, men tend to spend an average of $219 just to make their partners happy.
This type of unbalanced pressure in relationships can be an issue, especially when high expectations are attached, O’Reilly says.
“There is nothing wrong with going out of your way for your partner in terms of gifts, favours, planning or sex,” she says. “If Valentine’s Day offers the perfect excuse or reminder for you to do so, then I believe it serves an important purpose. If, however, you feel pressure to perform – or you put pressure on your partner to do so – it will inevitably lead to disappointment.”
Others, like Wallace and O’Reilly, don’t understand why people put so much stock into one earmarked day to show their love when it should be shown all year round.
“I believe that small gestures spread out over the course of your relationship are more important than grand gestures mandated by a commercially based holiday,” O’Reilly says. “I also worry that the pressure to be romantic and/or sexual on a very specific day causes more distress than pleasure for some couples.”
McCance, however, sees the day in another light.
“I think we need that reminder to love a little harder on a certain day,” she says. “We live in a world that is so busy that I think we need a day to stop, take a breath and focus on the connection with our partner. If we didn’t have this day then I’d worry that people wouldn’t take that time.”
But the day can be lonely for some, especially if they’re without a partner to celebrate it with.
An online survey by Healthline found that seven per cent of respondents feel lonely or sad on Valentine’s Day.
But that’s OK, McCance says.
“Just be really nurturing to yourself,” she says. “Be your own Valentine and do something special for yourself. Cook that dinner, treat yourself to that expensive wine, listen to your favourite music. Sometimes you deserve some self love.”
The number of single people in Canada continues to surpass the number of married couples, Statistics Canada reports.
In 2016, there were over 14.3 million singletons in the country (about 7.6 million of which were men and 6.7 million women. Now, as to how many of them are in a serious dating relationship is unknown.
“[Valentine’s Day] certainly doesn’t appeal to single and singles are a fast growing segment of our population,” O’Reilly says. “We’re delaying cohabitation and marriage.”
But one thing people should remember, McCance says, is that Valentine’s Day shouldn’t only be exclusive to relationships – it should be a day that celebrates love in a general sense.
“I call [Valentine’s Day] ‘Love Day,’” says McCance. “What if you were just to celebrate relationships in general? It could be your romantic relationship, but it could also be the relationships you have with your family and friends. Celebrate the love. I think if we remove that romantic pressure then it’s just celebrating this wonderful thing called love.”
But if the day really bothers you, both McCance and O’Reilly offer some tips on how to lift your spirits up.
One way to do that is to involve your friends.
“One thing I used to do was to invite my single girlfriends over and we’d order in and I’d have little chocolates and gifts for them,” McCance says. “It was celebrating our friendships and even our relationship statues. I just felt so much joy in celebrating them.”
O’Reilly suggests shifting the focus away from you and on to others.
“Take your favourite couple out for dinner or let them take you,” she says. “[Volunteering] will lift your spirits and boost your sense of self. Do a good deed … A kind gesture enhances the recipient’s mood regardless of whether it’s received from a romantic partner or a stranger or acquaintance.”Follow @danidmedia
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