The Vanity of Valentine’s

How materialistic culture is hurting hearts and wallets


Millie Barkley | Wed, 19 Feb 2020


Bouquets of multi-coloured, manufactured roses; jewellery so shiny, fragile and expensive, it’ll burn a hole in your wallet and your economic soul; dinners with wine that must have been bottled by the God himself, although questionable based on the taste, are but a few of the expectations that Valentine’s day brings with it.

Adverts, jokes, posters, cards from when we were so small, we had no idea what love even was, have ingrained the idea that if you’re going to show your affection, February 14th is the best, if not the only day to do it.

I’ll admit, when I was a single teenager in high school, pining over the hot sixth year boys, Valentine’s day seemed like a dream come true. The moment my crush could profess the love they’d been hiding all year with some grand, or secret, gesture – the stars would align, and life would be perfect. What Valentine’s really meant? Disappointment. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if someone doesn’t like you for a whole year, they don’t like you on Valentine’s – and if they’re acting like they do, they probably just want a cute bracelet.

The expectations on new relationships to buy the perfect gift and dish out potentially hundreds of pounds on a great night out for their new guy or gal is obscene, to say the least, as well as the idea that singles should, of course, celebrate the day with friends! Go out, have dinner, drink, spend. And failing to have any friends, buy your mum something to show your love, buy a goodie bag specifically designed for your dog with heart shaped biscuits and a bright red chew-toy. News-flash – red isn’t actually in a dog’s colour spectrum, so you just bought them something yellowish/brown.

A corporate technique, which is tragically working wonders due to increasing materialism, is all Valentine’s Day is, to the point that I’ve heard stories of girls who will get a date or a boyfriend, right in time for the 14th, just to get a free meal before ditching the guy a few days later. Yes, this isn’t the days fault specifically, but honestly it should act as a warning to all people likely to be under the pressure of paying for said meal.

I might sound like a bitter, single student, but I’m actually in a really good relationship, and before you call me a hypocrite, here’s what we’ve opted to do for our second Valentine’s – nothing.

He’s going to come to my place, we’ll cook dinner, maybe buy a £5 bottle of cheap white to share (which is more a regular thing than I’d like, but certainly not special for the day) and probably watch a garbage movie on Netflix. No gifts, no dressing up, no hectic scrawling out a card last minute because the day came so much faster than we thought. And I can’t wait. It’s still a date, and we’ll still love each other, only I won’t wake up on the 15th and start applying for jobs – at least not for that reason, rent is still expensive.

We’re all students, and we’d don’t have mountains of cash to waste on a day like this just to feel like we love our partner or our parents or our pet enough. If you want to buy them flowers and chocolates (not for the dog please), then by all means show your love that way, but if you’re doing this to either prove something, or to buy your way out of not having to spend the whole night with them, or paying them a compliment, please just don’t. 

You’re not doing them or yourself any favours by trying to buy affection, and a person doesn’t love you any less if they don’t have the money to treat you in the stereotypical fashion. Just love who you love and tell them that. That’s all the day’s about, and trust me, that’s all they really want to hear.

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