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Love’s arrow misses the mark

On Valentine's Day: have we become too uptight to fall head over heels?

Shirley Dent

Topics Politics

There have always been those who think the whole pink cacophony of 14 February is an ideological ploy by a capitalist-controlled society/state/market to feed us the opium of luurve, lull us into false consciousness, and make us buy the fetishised commodities of cross-eyed velour bunnies declaring ‘I’m crawzy 4 U’.

Either that or they’re really pissed off about being by themselves for 10 years running – the owner of the Anti-Valentine’s Day Central website was honest enough to fess up to this state of affairs (1).

What is different about criticism of Valentine’s Day in the 2000s is that it often actively encourages people to be by themselves and to stay isolated: every guy and doll is an island and is better off that way. One person who posted on a BBC message board declared that one is better than two and ‘I’ is better than ‘us’ any day of the week: ‘I’ve found it easier to hate loveydovey stuff and not want love at all. I already have a true love, me! I’ve forgotten love and am better for it, forget 2 ppl, 1 works just as well!!’ (2)

This is such a pity. Whether you go along with the blatant commercialism of Valentine’s Day or turn your nose up at it is not the point here. The point is to enjoy the risk of romance, to jump into someone else’s life with both feet. We seem to have lost something of that sense of abandon to another. There is a reason why a whirlwind romance is called a whirlwind romance: that feeling of chance, that slight sense of vertigo you get when you are really wrapped up in someone else.

A sign of our self-obsession is that ‘Love me’ is replacing ‘I love you’ as the Valentine’s Day slogan of choice. Marks and Spencer this year has a whole range of dinky Valentine’s confectionary that declares ‘Love me’, ‘Bite me’, ‘Kiss me’.

We seem scared of being intimate with another, of getting down and dirty with them. Recent research by Teletext Holidays reported in the London Metro revealed that going away with your loved one for Valentine’s Day is a risky business, but not in the way we might hope (3). One in four relationships bites the dust after a romantic V-day getaway. Well, such is life. But it is the reasons given for the breakups that are alarming: ‘24 per cent will not use a toilet while their new lover is in the hotel room and 37 per cent feel “too claustrophobic”.’

Has it come to this? Our self-obsessed, risk-obsessed culture finds us too embarrassed to do what comes naturally anywhere in the near vicinity of the person we supposedly love? And claustrophobia? That’s the point of being with someone.

Have we so professionalised and formalised our relationships that we no longer feel able to be in love with someone, intimate with someone, without interventionist props such as counselling, self-help guides, group therapy or his and her bidets with soundproofing assured?

Don’t buy it. Take a chance this V-day and say to the person you always wanted to say it to: ‘Babe, I really want to jump your bones’…or words to that effect.

Read on:

spiked-issue: Love and sex
(1) Anti-Valentine’s Day Central, Elsonet

(2) Surviving Valentine’s Day if you Are Single , BBC conversation forum

(3) Valentine’s trip can be a gamble, This is London, 1 February 2005

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Topics Politics

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