I don’t celebrate Valentine’s day.
Wait – before you get the wrong idea, let me say a few things: I am a woman, I am in a relationship (and yes, I do love him!) and no, I’m not a horrible harridan who hates fun and kittens.
On top of that, I love being in love as well. So…
Why don’t I love Valentine’s day?
It’s because Valentine’s Day puts a price on love. It tells you that you must buy certain things, watch certain movies and go to certain restaurants to prove your love on this day. But here’s the thing: you can’t prove your love with money.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s true that some things about love and romance do cost money. Stinginess and selfishness are definitely not attractive! And if you want to go the extra mile and recreate the big, show-stopping gestures of the blockbuster romantic comedies, you do need to splash out some dosh. But what’s the true cost of love? Can you put a price on it?
Finding Love Does Cost Money…
Being in a relationship – or trying to get into a relationship – can be expensive. It’s bad enough finding someone you want to be with, but then you’ve got to figure out whether or not they might want to be with you, and then whether or not you can be with each other without one (or both) of you running off screaming. It’s a pain.
Add to that the fact that all that single mingling doesn’t come for free – well, that’s a major pain. What should you wear? Should you buy the drinks? Split the bill? Order the lobster and champers or nibble on the bread rolls and nurse the tap water all night? If you’re tied up in knots because of not wanting to look like a cheapskate (because let’s face it, frugality wears flats, not 5 inch heels) but you can’t open your wallet without disturbing the cobwebs, you have yourself a dilemma, my friend.
If this is you, comfort yourself with the fact that everyone faces the love-plus-money conundrum, not just those who are looking for love. It just stinks that when you’re in this position, you’re targeted yet again by the money/love machine, and made to feel bad just for being single. It’s that fear of missing out on love that drives this – if you’re happily single, chances are you’ll be less happy once you’ve been to the supermarket in early February and walked past the aisle that’s entirely draped in red lace bras.
Business Loves Love
We’re also afraid of being seen to not value our relationships enough, and business profits from our fear. The diamond industry has done particularly well out of our fear, essentially creating a monetary value for relationships by convincing us that so many months’ salary should be spent on an engagement ring. This was an absolute stroke of genius by diamond giant De Beers and ad agency NW Ayer from the late 1930’s onwards.
Yes, the world takes full advantage of our inbuilt need for love and affection and finds increasingly devious ways to part a lovestruck fool from his/her money. It seems as though February was invented to bridge the gap between the primary gifting period and the chocolate sales extravaganza.
The movie industry shows us how to act in love. The greetings card industry says it for us. In fact, we’re told to say it with flowers, chocolate… well, just don’t rely on only saying it yourself, because that’s free.
None of that means that it’s wrong to buy things for someone you love. Not that the romance-blinded fool needs much encouragement to part with his/her money to prove his/her love; in the beginning, money is usually no object. This lasts either until the money runs out, or until the money becomes so much of an object that the love runs out… or less dramatically, both parties realise that they’ve pulled, the other person is always there and the gas bill becomes more of a ‘thing’ than red roses.
We’re told at this point that we ought to get down to the shops to splash out on something special, because goodness knows, everybody else is doing something for Valentine’s Day and you don’t want to look like a tightwad when your friends ask what you did/got. This is apart from your own anniversary, of course, because… because… because marketing experts need to know when to start stocking the shelves with romantic stuff, ok?
Buying presents for each other
Does this mean we don’t buy each other presents? Well, Lord Balders and I have a financial arrangement that means his money is mine and my money is… well, let’s say vice versa because I don’t have to utter it out loud, but you know what I mean. We put everything all in together. This does make it very hard for us to buy presents for each other, particularly because we keep such a close eye on our finances, but we tend to prefer planning things to do together on different ‘special’ occasions throughout the year.
The True Cost of Love
The truth is, the price of love is very high. It’s not something you can pay with money, otherwise the rich would never be lonely or get divorced… and of course, they do. Actually, throwing money at your relationship without paying the true price is a sure way to get into difficulty.
What love really costs you is the effort you put into your relationship, the attention you give your partner, and the hard work you put into keeping your affection alive amidst the trouble life brings. It’s in the unbelievably hard feats of biting your lip when just want to tell them where to go, and in putting them first when you’d rather put them outside. It doesn’t come easily just because you think it should, and it takes a lot more work than picking the right gift once a year.
If you could fix your love problems with money, then you’d be on to a winner there. Kings and queens haven’t managed it throughout all of history. In fact, money is one of the biggest causes of arguments in relationships.
Unfortunately, most of our lives have been mined for profit by big businesses. Wouldn’t it be great if love wasn’t turned into a commodity as well?