February's here, and as the New Year, New You crap kindly begins to fuck off, Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Valentine's Day has always been a great marketing opportunity to show your crush or significant other that you love them, and with the fanfare of grand gestures and Hallmark cards, it can often become a bit ick for those both in and out of relationships. The thing is, in relationships, if you love someone, there shouldn't be just one day a year reserved to telling that person how you feel, but you knew that already.
I've been in a relationship for two years now, and despite being on the 'them' side of Valentine's Day - note, the smug couples - I actually probably couldn't be further than that. Soppy shit makes me roll my eyes, but if I love you, you know about it (so if you're expecting a gushy love letter from me, you could be waiting a while). Prior to getting with my boyfriend, I was single every Valentine's Day for ten years, since my first ever boyfriend — I was on the 'us' (non-smug couple) side of February 14th. Even before the popularity of Galentine's Day became a thing, that was pretty much encapsulated how my Valentine's Day panned out every year, and I loved it.
With self love and self care being newer concepts to me in more recent years, and after years of abusing myself through disordered eating and self hatred, I find that we should use Valentine's Day and everything that surrounds it to show how much we love ourselves. Yeah, that makes me sound like an arrogant asshole, but surely some of us need more of a push to be kinder to ourselves than we do to be kinder to others?
In my first year of uni, three friends and I decided that we were going to do Valentine's Day together. We booked a table for four in a fancy harbour-facing restaurant for 8pm - prime date time - and got all dressed up for a girlfriends' double date. We ate good food, we got drunk, we enjoyed each other's company. We got some strange looks from some of the couples there - probably because we were the only non-couples there - half likely questioning our sexuality, the other half likely perplexed at a group of single girls having fun on a night for those in love.
The second year was a more chilled out, at-home affair, with friends, plenty of booze, chick flicks and a chocolate pizza which blew my mind. We did face masks, manicures, and treated ourselves to whatever made us feel fabulous. Sure, they were different kinds of nights, but no matter what personal feelings I had towards myself at that moment in time, each Valentine's Day I was able to show love for myself and for my friends.
Fast forward five years and I think it's important that we look back on these kinds of celebrations of love just as much as we do the celebrations of romantic love. Self love is a kind of love that can be there for you when no partner is. The love between friends can be there for you whether or not you can find the love for yourself. Regardless of your marital status, if it takes one momentously marketed day each year to encourage you to love yourself, the skin that you're in, or even just for the person that you are, then so be it. Buy yourself some roses. Write yourself out a cute card. Cook yourself a fancy dinner, riding solo, with your partner, or an evening with friends. Allow yourself to be love and to be loved, because you're worth all of the love in the world.