The Jungle is a column that uses social media to explore the wild and woolly world of relationships.
So, was your Valentine’s Day very good? Very bad? Just right? It seems like V-Day, so imbued with both impossible romantic expectations and cynical, over-it disregard, is hard to get right. Regardless of what we want from the day itself, it can take us by surprise.
@shannmulligan had a sweetly, if accidentally, romantic Valentine’s Day last year. She tweeted me, “My BF mailed an engagement card and didn’t expect it to arrive on the cheesy holiday.” (It did.) “I was also home alone when I read the card – we usually go home together, but didn’t that day. Not your average proposal …” It was so unexpected that @shannmulligan “didn’t know how to bring up the card.” She tweeted, “We made a nice dinner together for the first half hour after he got home,” before she finally told him she’d opened it, and said yes.
When @tessanorton was single and working on a cultural studies MA, her professor took her and her fellow graduate students on what she described in a tweet as a “vulgarity-themed walking tour of London.” She wrote that that Valentine’s was “entirely romanceless but super” and says it was the “best in its way, yet wouldn’t trade the four normal romantic dinners I’ve had since then to do it again.”
When @thomasjohnd was working at a warehouse alongside his recently exed long-term girlfriend, she walked into work on V-Day, a week after they broke up, “just as Zombies’ The Way I Feel Inside starts …” He tweeted, “First thing in the morning, barely anyone else in the building. Eyes welled up, nothing was said, she turned and left.”
claudiamcneilly’s bad early Valentine’s Days – “closest I’ve ever come to a valentine was when I was 13 and the guy I liked gave me a rose. Then he gave my friend a rose too” – are not much different now. She tweeted, “Unfortunately they tend to fall into the ‘don’t make eye contact with me today, i’m buying a pint of ice cream alone’ genre.”
Out of all the people who responded, only @SeannaKerr had an unambiguously good feeling about her Valentine’s; she tweeted, “Meeting my husband at the opera. We will eat the box sandwiches on the steps, then watch Tristan und Isolde. I get to dress up!”
The reason that a day of love is so hard to get right, or even like? Valentine’s Day isn’t only what you make it, it’s about what your partner – or lack thereof – makes it for you.
Follow Kate Carraway on Twitter: @KateCarraway