Did you just groan?
I couldn’t hear you over the thousands of other grumbles and murmurs of objection to the mere mention of the event. And I don’t blame you.
We are beings of free will, and we value our autonomy, just as we should. Having a massive commercially driven engine telling us that we must buy the objects of our affection cheesy greeting cards, chocolate, flowers and teddy bears in order to prove our love and devotion rubs many of us the wrong way.
And the pressure is intense. We start getting bombarded by Valentine images, ads and merchandise even before the post-Christmas blow-out sales are over.
It’s easy to become cynical and jaded over the February 14th celebration, particularly if you find yourself approaching the date without a romantic partner or, sometimes worse, with a romantic partner but lacking in funds or imagination.
If you fall into one of these camps, or if you just don’t like corporations telling you how to love someone, then these suggestions for reinventing Valentine’s Day might just be up your alley:
Idea #1 – Celebrate Love in All Its Forms
This one is for everyone who has faced the approaching date, single and lonely, wishing every happy couple would just drop off the face of the earth.
Love is not just for lovers. It comes in so many wonderful forms, including the love we feel for our friends, our family members, even our pets.
If you really enjoy all the grand gestures and fanfare of Valentine’s Day but don’t have anyone to lavish them on (or be lavished by), why not share some of your gratitude and appreciation with those more platonic loves of your life?
Grab a pack of playful kids’ Valentine cards to hand out to everyone you cherish. Drop by a good friend’s place with a box of chocolates to share. If your parents are still together, you might play chef and waiter to create a romantic evening for them. Or how about treating your beloved pet to a gourmet homemade meal in place of their regular kibble.
Idea #2 – Go Non-Commercial
It can be extremely stressful worrying about what your partner expects from you on Valentine’s Day, especially for new couples.
Advertisers would have us believe we must spend a ton of money to show someone we truly care, and many people fall into the trap of equating the size and grandeur of the gestures and gifts with how much regard their partner feels for them.
Even for those of us wise enough to know this isn’t true, the pressure leading up to the date can be so intense that we cave, spending hundreds of dollars on red roses, stuffed animals, and chocolates, none of which have anything to do with love.
Take your power back from commercial interests, and come up with something that doesn’t involve buying useless trinkets and stale chocolates.
Hand-make a card and write your own love letter. Get dressed up and spend the evening making an elegant dinner together. Share a chocolatey dessert by a cozy fireplace, taking turns telling each other what you love and admire about the other. Drop by the local dance studio for a romantic salsa lesson, or exchange massages or foot rubs with your favorite person. Give your partner your undivided attention for the evening, something that money can’t buy.
Come up with something that you’ll both find romantic and fun, and that doesn’t involve maxing out the credit card.
Idea #3 – Love Thyself
That sounds a little forward (ahem), but the adage about loving oneself before one can fully love another is popular for a reason.
While it’s wonderful to honour and proclaim the love we feel for others in our lives, on Valentine’s Day and every other day of the year, perhaps even more important is cultivating and celebrating the love we feel for ourselves.
This Valentine’s Day, if you find yourself solo and feeling a little envious of all the attention and gifts being exchanged between couples, try romancing yourself. Seriously. Take all the effort and attention you would normally expend on a lover, and direct it inwards.
Shop for special ingredients, and lovingly prepare a wonderful meal of all your favourite foods. Treat yourself to a bouquet of flowers, a decadent treat of chocolate, or perhaps a visit to the spa.
Instead of avoiding all the love vibes, indulge in them by taking a candle-lit bubble bath or watching a romantic movie. Make a list of all the things that make you loveable and amazing.
If you’re hoping for a romantic partner to enter your life, make Valentine’s Day the day you spend visualizing exactly what you want in a partner and a relationship, and use the energy of this annual celebration of love to manifest your own.