Call me a wet blanket, but I have trouble getting into holidays. That isn’t to say I can’t get some enjoyment from them when they finally roll around. I may be too old to go on Easter egg hunts or trick-or-treating, but I can still capture some of the joy of the holiday if only through privately pigging out on chocolate eggs or Halloween candy picked up at the store. Logically, I should be able to do the same with one of those heart-shaped boxes of chocolates they sell for Valentine’s Day, right?
Well, no. Unlike hoarding Easter eggs or Halloween candy, buying Valentine’s Day chocolates for yourself feels somehow dirty and pathetic. Just like a bouquet of flowers, it is meant to be for someone else, and not just anyone else, but your romantic partner specifically. The only problem is this: what if you have no romantic partner? Of course, this problem will always face many people on Valentine’s Day no matter what, but what is a temporary disappointment for some is a lifelong condition for others.
I am asexual, so that already puts me off to a bad start. I didn’t realize this for quite some time, and for a long time I couldn’t figure out why I was not only failing to attract a mate, but had little desire to. I have just turned 29, and I have yet to even go on a date. However, I am not 100 per cent certain that I am asexual. I currently identify as ace because it would explain a lot of things, and it fits me best out of the labels available. Yet, I have an alternative theory that whatever my sexuality originally was, it was so under-stimulated in my formative years that it essentially withered on the vine. Either way, I do feel a need for love and affection, but I simply don’t know how to obtain it.
Why should we bother anyway? We have all heard horror stories, or seen first-hand, relationships that are abusive, dysfunctional, or that simply don’t last long. It creates the impression that such relationships will inevitably involve pain and misery, and are doomed to fail from the start. There is no guarantee that the happiness gained will be worth it.
Finally, like so many other students, I simply don’t have the time or energy to spare. It’s hard enough just trying to keep up with the demands of school, and perhaps earning money as well. Relationships take time and effort to build and maintain, and mustering enough of either is a challenge even at the best of times. Even if we do meet someone, will we ever see them again? Classes change and people graduate or leave. This is the problem with school and workplace crushes. Keeping in touch after we go our separate ways is difficult.
All of this adds up to a situation where people of my generation are struggling to find ways to meet our emotional and sexual needs, because we increasingly lack the tools to do so. Many millennials are delaying marriage and having families, and for some, “later” means “probably never, if this keeps up.” Personally, I have been trying to come to terms with a future that may not include a significant other or children, and it’s not easy. Think of how much the baby boom of the mid-20th century impacted our civilization, and then think of what a baby bust might do. For one thing, poor little Valentine’s Day would become an irrelevant and overlooked holiday that celebrates what many people do not have.
This is why I am indifferent, if not a little bitter, towards Valentine’s Day. It not only celebrates the romantic couple, but idealizes it, and implies it should be a part of everyone’s life, despite the barriers that many face to achieving it. Being alone in life is hard enough, and I don’t need some cheery and light-hearted orgy of cards, chocolates, flowers, and candlelit dinners to rub salt in my wound.
Image: Cory Jensen/The Cascade