ZAHRA ZAHRAVITHE/THE VARSITY

A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine was complaining to me about her boyfriend — the apparent favourite pastime of all my friends in relationships. She said something that didn’t quite make sense to me: even though she wanted to break up with him, she wouldn’t do it until after Valentine’s Day, so that she could avoid being single on the most romantic day of the year.

Here’s the thing. I don’t really understand what is so romantic about Valentine’s Day, and I especially don’t get why it must serve as the occasion for couples to write sappy Instagram captions about each other or go to crowded restaurants together to somehow prove to the world that they’re not alone, as though being alone on Valentine’s Day is something to be ashamed of.

I’ve experienced Valentine’s Day both while in a relationship and while single, and I must say that I highly prefer the latter. There is no pressure to try to somehow capture the essence of your love for someone in one day or one gift.

Let’s be real, February 14 is right in middle of the chaos that is midterm season. I’m barely able to find time to sleep between writing five term papers and studying for midterms, let alone find the time to spend with a boyfriend and buy him a gift with the money I don’t have when what I really need to be doing is studying.

I know you might be thinking that these are just the excuses of a girl who’s salty about being alone on Valentine’s Day. I can assure you, it’s not that. I am in a long-term, committed relationship — it just happens to be with school.

What’s great about this relationship, though it can be challenging, is that when it’s over, I won’t be left crying my sorrows away into a tub of ice cream while watching the ending of Call Me By Your Name. I will instead be a more intelligent and hopefully wiser person — can that really be said about a relationship you’re only in for cuffing season?

I promise that I’m not just being bitter. But I will confess that I find it unsettling that there’s one day per year when couples are expected to make grand gestures of love, and single people are supposed to simply sulk at their single status.

I don’t think of Valentine’s Day as a reminder that I’m ‘forever alone,’ as some might. Just because I happen to be single this February 14 doesn’t mean I feel more single than I would on any other day.

I live for myself, and I am exploring all facets of who I am and what I want — and I think there is no better time to be single than when you’re in your 20s at university. There’s no other time in your life when the main expectation of you is that you learn — not only in your classes but also about yourself. And what better way to do that than to spend some time alone?

Alternative ways to spend Valentine’s Day that don’t involve watching The Notebook:

  1. Study, because you probably should. What’s better than a quiet, romantic night at Robarts? I promise that your GPA will thank you for it.
  2. Ask a single bestie to be your Valentine and take corny couple pictures together. See how many strangers you can fool into thinking you’re dating.
  3. Get excited for discount chocolate. My favourite part about Valentine’s Day has always been the day after Valentine’s Day.
  4. Or do nothing. Because in all honesty, it’s just another Wednesday.

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