Emily Pittinos: Love it or leave it, it’s V-Day

By Emily Pittinos, Columnist
Published February 13, 2013

Like other stereotypes, the assumptions about women on Valentine’s Day do reflect morsels of the truth. Somewhere there’s a girl weeping into a pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk as she watches Meg Ryan movies and wishes she were at Sava’s with the strapping guy who will never notice her. There’s also a woman going bananas over a heart-shaped box of chocolates with a pair of diamond earrings hidden inside. But the Valentine’s Day dog and pony show isn’t necessarily for everyone.

As a recovering serial dater, I’ve experienced a variety of these celebrations ranging from the nice to the terrible. My most memorable one was when I was 14 and my first boyfriend pulled out all the stops. He got me jewelry and chocolates, and played his own arrangement of “All the Things You Are” on his trombone, but by the end of the day he was crying while he rubbed my feet. I don’t remember what triggered his breakdown — maybe it was the day’s pressure or his deep-seeded oddness — but I do remember my toes were wet with tears and that moment set the tone for my future run-ins with classic romance.

You could argue that this experience was a fluke, and if I were with someone else then the schmaltz of it all wouldn’t have failed me. But that wasn’t the only Valentine’s Day I’ve had that ended with a cry instead of a bang, and I’ve since learned that the holiday’s expectations don’t reflect my personal tastes.

This year I’ve finally broken my own constant dating cycle, and being on my own sounds refreshing. I also know I’m not the only single lady who’s throwing her hands up with the joy of glossing over Valentine’s Day traditions. When I asked an unattached friend how she planned on celebrating the day, she said she was going to treat herself, which would include buying herself gifts and dinner wherever she wanted.

It’s possible that people who believe in the one-fits-all stereotypes might think the day she described sounds like a way to cover up her tragic loneliness with material goods and eaten feelings. However, if you’ve met my friend, you’d know that she’s actually a super sexy, independent catch who — despite her mother’s incessant skepticism — has no interest in a relationship, let alone being pampered by a dude on Valentine’s Day.

“I’m excited,” she said while snacking on a box of crackers in our kitchen. “I deserve it.”

Another friend of mine said she’s also over the world of chocolate and flowers, and even monogamous sex. “I just want something casual,” she wrote via Facebook Chat. “Nothing uber-romantic, that would be soooo uncomfortable.”

She’s also not alone on this one. It seems like a lot of women my age, myself included, aren’t only disinterested with the connotations of Feb. 14, but the involvement that goes along with the kind of relationship that demands something special out of the day. When it comes down to it, women like us are too busy for commitment and just want someone to hang out and fool around with in the little spare time we have.

To be clear, it’s not that I hold any resentment for Valentine’s Day as a concept. Despite the flack this holiday has gotten over the years — it’s been called a capitalist scheme rigged by Hallmark, a day to celebrate heteronormative behavior and a day to make single people feel like sneaker gum — I bet it’s great for those who are turned on by the idea of classic romance.

So, if you’re currently in love and jazzed about the Valentine’s Day you have planned, then that’s swell. If you got the reservations at the fancy restaurant with the tinfoil swans, and have 50 bucks’ worth of rose petals in the fridge and the stars aligned with your period so you can tear off your partner’s clothes and make sweet, clean love, that’s awesome. Go for it.

Just remember that if a girl is skipping out on the Valentine’s Day hype, there’s a decent chance that it’s her choice. She doesn’t need to be pitied or told it’s just another day on the calendar because you never know — she might be reserving that time for rewarding her daily hard work with a shopping spree and some casual carnal activity.

Emily Pittinos can be reached at pittinos@umich.edu.