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The Truth About Long-Term, Long-Distance Relationships

Long Term Long Distance

Long distance relationships suck. There’s a certain level of freedom that you can fool yourself into believing is kind of a cool benefit of not having your significant other around all the time. And then there’s the fact that when you do see each other, it’s just one giant extended date. Like even sitting on the couch, eating popcorn and watching TV still seems special several years into the relationship because you do it so very little.

And sometimes I think people glamorize long-distance. (NOTE: People who are not and have never been in a long-distance relationship). They say, “Oh, you’re so committed to stay together over such a distance for such a long period of time!” or “You get to extend the honeymoon phase of your relationship so much longer, don’t you? I’m jealous!” And you just kind of have to grin and bear whatever expectations they put on you and your relationship.

There is also the rather unhelpful older generation that says “Why don’t you just get married!” after two dates, like that fixes any of the problems of living and working in two different place. While I understand the sentiment, I’m growing up in a very different world than my parent’s generation did. Long-distance is no longer a relationship killer, but when jobs in your field are hard to come by, “just getting married” really doesn’t help. Unless you want to move from the uncomfortable reality of having a long-distance boyfriend to the pretty unbearable awfulness that is a long-distance husband. (Military spouses are doing this already and with legitimate reasons. It seems kind of silly for me to get mixed up there when the thing standing in the way is a viable career option rather than fighting for your country.)

So here are some truths about my life:

I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for four years (five if you count our year of “casual dating” when I was on holiday breaks from university). In that time period we have lived either one or two hours apart (so between 60 and 120 miles). In the entirety of our relationship, we’ve never actually lived in the same area unless you count when I first met him, and he slept half the week on a cot at his place of work to minimize travel. We’ve gone through periods of seeing each other at least twice a week to seeing each other only once or twice a month. We’ve met in the middle and switched off on who does the majority of the traveling because of fluctuating incomes. All-in-all for most “long-distance” relationships, we probably see each other more than average, but I also feel like we’re in the unique place of starting and building our relationship from a place of distance which I think made the seeing each other as often as possible so important. I think if we hadn’t been as committed to making the trips, it would have ended a long time ago. And honestly, many of our biggest fights and times of hardship came from travel and distance issues. It’s made us sacrifice a lot of our time—weekends can’t just be for “fun,” they’re dedicated time to build our relationship. That means friendships and familial relationships sometimes had to take a backseat because it would become a choice between spending time with family/friend or the boyfriend. Or when I’ve tried smashing it all into the same small time span, I usually end up with deteriorated health and morale.

So I guess you could say that I haven’t had the WORST long-distance relationship (not by far!), but as you can see, it hasn’t been a walk in the park either. Which has lead me to some truths about long-term, long-distance relationships that I thought I’d share with you.

  • No one understands your relationship as well as you do – People will try to tell you how to run your life and how to work your relationship. Don’t listen to them. They don’t know what they’re talking about. Sometimes there’s some good advice that can be gleaned from the mess, but usually, its just people who’ve never been in a long-term, long-distance relationship, trying to tell you how to run yours. Always trust your gut before you listen to these “helpful friends.”
  • If you can’t see each other on a Wednesday night when one of you has had the worst day, it’s long-distance – Sometimes people would argue with me about whether my relationship was actually long-distance. They’d say because it was “only 100 miles” and not several states or a country away, then it wasn’t “real long-distance.” And it’s true, the first few months, even the first year of 100 miles—a two-hour drive—doesn’t feel so long or tough. But that’s where long-term comes in. The longer those 100 miles go on, the farther those 100 miles seem. You wonder if it’s really worth it. If you’ll actually see the other side of this relationship. If a future will actually come out of it. If you’re fooling yourself in thinking you’ll ever live in the same area.
  • It only ever gets harder – Most things, with practice, get easier with time. Long-distance relationships do the opposite. However, I will say that if you’re able to weather the hardness of it, you will find strength in yourself and in your relationship that you didn’t know was possible.
  • Know when to give up and when to push through – There have been several times in the last 5 years of our relationship that we gave up. Fortunately, we’d find that the moment we gave in, we realized we were far more miserable that way than the uncomfortableness of long-distance could ever cause. And it always brought us back stronger. However, I know this can’t and won’t work for everyone. Which is why I think it’s important to periodically reevaluate your relationship. Sometimes it means that the only time you see each other will mostly be taken up by not-so-fun discussions about how you’re feeling and where you’re at emotionally in the relationship. There will probably be a lot of tears. But I think it’ll save you from either harder heartbreak later or from mismanaged expectations from your significant other.
  • You have to take time for yourself – Long-distance is so much about giving. You have to give and give and give to your significant other, your family, and your friends in order to stay sane and with well-functioning relationships. But where does that leave you and your own mental state? What I think we forget (as people in long-distance relationships and those supporting those who are) is that we do have to take time for ourselves. Sometimes my boyfriend and I need a weekend apart. Which, depending on schedules, can either mean two full weeks or even a month apart. Long-distance relationships are always about sacrifice. They’re about sacrificing your time and money and energy to make a harder-than-average-because-of-physical-distance relationship work, but they’re also about sacrificing time with that loved one in order to take care of your own mental and emotional needs. Whoever you’re in the long-distance relationship with has to understand this sacrifice. He’ll need to make it for himself, and respect it when you make it too.

So don’t listen to the haters or the naysayers. Your long-term, long-distance

relationship is all about you and your significant other. It’s about your choices and your happiness whether you live 100 miles away or 1000 miles away. Distance has created a barrier in your relationships, and you’ve decided to fight against that barrier with the hopes of one day bringing it down. I can’t give you anything but praise. It’s a hard job and fight.

 

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Why You Should Be Your Own Valentine

Valentine-1Welcome to February—the Season of Love! Or as I like to call it, “The Make Sure You’ve Validated Your Worth Through a Relationship” time of year. But seriously though, everyone makes February about either couples’ romance or “Singles’ Awareness.” All the dating websites and apps promotions are in full swing, and every ad I see is for “getting the best gift for your honey,” and they all make me want to gag. Last year, I wrote about why we hate Valentine’s Day even though it’s supposed to be a day of happy, mushy, gushy feelings. This year, I’m not feeling quite as cynical, but I do have a Valentine’s Challenge for you: use Valentine’s Day to be YOUR OWN Valentine.

What does this mean, you might ask? Do you need to send candy and flowers to yourself on the 14th? No, it’s not so literal as that (although, I suppose you could if you really wanted to). Being your own Valentine is about loving yourself this Valentine’s day. We can get so caught up in having a “fairytale” romance because we think it will make us happy, when really, what we need more than anything is a little self-love. My YouTube videos are geared towards teen girls (though I know all demographics enjoy them), and I give them this challenge for Valentine’s Day too because I remember from my time as a teen how ALL IMPORTANT Valentine’s Day and having a boyfriend was to me. Looking back at age 24 though, I see how much time and energy I wasted worrying myself sick about boys and relationships. Not that me telling teen girls to stop worrying is actually going to have any effect on stopping their obsession with boys, but I at least want to give them an alternative. Like being your own Valentine.

So why should you be your own Valentine this year?

1.) Skip the stupid Valentine’s Day heartache!

When you’re single on Valentine’s Day, it sucks. You’re constantly reminded of your singleness by every commercial, restaurant special, and friend who “can’t hangout because they have plans.” If you’re a teen and hoping for a secret admirer to show up with a flowers or a card in your locker, you’re setting yourself up for heartache. This isn’t the movies! Those kinds of things don’t really happen! So you’re better off taking the time to love yourself a little extra on Valentine’s Day rather than wasting it wondering if the cute barista at your frequented coffee shop will give you a foam heart design on your order.

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2.) It builds self-confidence and self-worth!

When I talk about “being your own Valentine,” I mean using Valentine’s Day to look at yourself and take stock. What are you being too hard on yourself about? Where do you need some extra encouragement? What do you feel inadequate in? Take those faults you find, and bolster them up with love. Remind yourself that you are not your pants size. Remember that you’re so much more than the job you currently have or how expensive your clothes are. Heck, find a cheesy valentine card (they’re rampant on the Internet) and send one to yourself. Just remind yourself of how awesome you are even when you don’t feel so great.

 

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3.) Why should you rely on someone else for your happiness?

But really, why does a guy buying you flowers or jewelry mean that you have any more worth than you did before you had a guy doing that? You can be happy with or without a guy fawning over you.

4.) Boys are stupid anyway.

No one can argue that point, I bet! We love them, but they also do some stupid things and can be stupidly oblivious to wonderfully devoted women right in front of them. So just be your own Valentine and skip the drama and friend-zoning.

5.) It applies to you if you’re single or taken.

Sometimes we forget once we have a significant other that we should still love ourselves. We start to gather all of our self-worth from the relationship rather than cultivating it personally and sharing it with our partner. We get consumed by trying to make a relationship work that we forget to take care of ourselves. So this Valentine’s Day, remember to love yourself more than anyone else. You can celebrate with your significant other or by yourself or not at all but don’t forget that the most important person to make happy is you.

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Love Ruins Your Life

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In watching the latest episode of Once Upon a Time (episode 407 “The Snow Queen”), I heard a quote that resonated with me. Will Scarlett, originally part of the Merry Men says in response to Robin Hood’s question about his heart-wrenching efforts for his True Love being worth it, “Mate, if you find someone you love enough to ruin your entire life for, it’s always worth it.”

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I don’t think we usually consider “falling in love” to be “ruining our lives.” It seems silly doesn’t it? Love is supposed to be beautiful and wonderful and happily ever after? (Okay, maybe not “happily ever after” all the time.) But actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a television show speak such truth before.

On the one hand, if you’ve ruined your life for a person, it BETTER be worth it. But on the other, do we ever really think about how we “ruin our lives” in pursuing our dreams of love? What about the guy who chooses to go to his hometown college so he’ll be near his rising senior girlfriend rather than attending the out-of-state university he’s been dreaming of since childhood? Or the post-grad who gives up her job, friends, and family to move across the country and live with her fiancé who decides after only a few months they’ve grown apart and breaks up with her? Or what about when you pledge your love and life to someone but you’ve barely been married and they die—stage 4 diagnosis, car crash, freak accident, doesn’t matter because they’re gone?

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But what I think this quote really talks about, and what resonates with me the most is the idea that you chose to ruin your life. You don’t necessarily think of it as ruining your life, but you know you are significantly changing the life you had or wanted or worked for. That’s what real love is, I think. That what makes and break marriages. What builds people up and tears them down. What makes us question our choices. What makes brides or grooms get cold feet at the altar.

Love is a scary emotion.

But is it worth it like Will Scarlett says? The romantic in me says, YES! The cynic in me asks, “Has all the world gone crazy?”

Maybe it has. Maybe it’s worth it. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it doesn’t matter as long as you accept your choices in life and move on?

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Josh Sundquist is Getting Married! (And Other Thoughts on YouTuber Romance and “Ships”)

Jashley-1There have been a lot of YouTube relationship revelations this year—most of them having a very unhappy ending with all the break-ups and abuse accusations (both sexual and emotional). In fact, before 2014, I didn’t pay much attention to who the YouTubers I watched regularly dated. Usually I would notice simply because there would be a new guy or girl showing up in some of their videos. Or that boyfriend/girlfriend might have a YouTube channel of their own that I would checkout just to be nice and find I really liked their content. Most of the time I could at least respect them for what they were doing even if I wasn’t their target audience. But I realized this year that when your YouTuber is in a relationship, it affects you just as much as it does their content.

We love to “ship” people. Even though YouTubers (especially vloggers) are representing their personal life on camera, we can’t help but view it like we would our favorite prime time television drama. We all have our “ships” from our favorite TV shows (mine being Haleb and Spoby on “Pretty Little Liars,” Delena and Steroline on “The Vampire Diaries,” and most of all, Captain Swan from “Once Upon a Time.”) But those are all fictional characters, right? Writers create them for our enjoyment, so can’t we rightfully have an opinion about who they should love and be with?Jashley-2.1 Jashley-2.2But what about when it’s real life? When it’s real people? When you have incredibly easy access to comment on these people’s lives (e.g. YouTube comments and every social media outlet ever).

I was a big fan of the Internet band ALL CAPS featuring Luke Conard and Kristina Horner. I was also a big fan of their relationship as featured on YouTube. I thought it was cute. I thought it was romantic to be in a band with your significant other. I thought they were both incredibly talented people and it entertained me to watch and comment on their relationship through the Interwebs. Eventually, they broke up and it was quiet so I just kind of lost interest suspecting it happened before they ever made it obviously public. It was only in 2014 when all Hell broke loose on Tumblr and people started posting their stories about their relationships in this weird, interconnected love spiderweb of YouTubers making me realize I didn’t want to know THAT much about their lives.

Jashley-3I lost a little faith in YouTube and humanity after that incident. And I also started approaching YouTube relationships EXTREMELY cautiously. Like Tessa Violet and Rusty Clayton. I love Tessa. She is an absolute inspiration to me and I was immediately suspicious of any real, public romance going on because I had never been witness to one before. Fortunately, Rusty seems like “The Nicest Guy.” (Capitalized because in the dictionary beside that term would be a picture of him.)Jashley-4 Jashley-5What I want to celebrate today though is another YouTube relationship that’s moved to the next stage of life: ENGAGEMENT! That is, the engagement of Josh Sundquist and his dearest darling girlfriend (now fiancée!) Ashley Let’s-Keep-Her-Safe-From-The-Stalkers. I think I subliminally saw it coming when I saw pictures of them touring Italy and doing other fun things this summer. About the time Josh made his dating of Ashley public, I wasn’t watching his videos as regularly because (real) life is hard, and my internet sucks, but instead would do Josh Sundquist binges when I needed a pick-me-up. This also meant I might skip over a video or two if it seemed especially “relationship heavy.” Although I distinctly remember watching one video where Josh and Ashley reviewed “Divergent” in an alleyway and being quite taken with her as a person in the way she presented herself and in the way Josh obviously cared about her. I think another part of me though didn’t want to get too attached because of all the DRAMA that tends to ensue as any relationship runs its course.

But what I want to say is that Josh Sundquist and Ashley have restored my faith and hope in online “ships” just a little by their engagement. Mostly I think it comes from Josh just being an upstanding guy with good public relations. If there’s drama (and there’s always drama in any relationship), it doesn’t interfere with his channel’s purpose. Fortunately, his channel has always been a little about relationships (e.g. why he could never seem to get a girlfriend) so when a real relationship finally entered into his real life, it could naturally (if delicately) be introduced into his channel without completely overhauling his main purpose and alienating his fans. Instead, I think he’s got a band of subscribers rallied behind him, excited for this new step in his life.

Jashley-#8Jashley-6 Jashley-7So unlike my TV ships of Delena or Captain Swan who can never really get married or live a happily ever after, this YouTube ship of Josh and Ashley (Jashley? Ashosh?) does have a future and that makes it all the more exciting! And fortunately, they won’t have some desperate show writers trying to break them apart because they desperately need to infuse life into the series again. (Poor Callie and Arizona from “Grey’s Anatomy.”) They get to be in charge of their future and romance and happily ever after. As YouTube viewers, we’ll probably get to see some of it (e.g. MysterGuitarMan/Joe Penna and Sarah Evershed Penna as they get engagement, married, and have a baby!) But even if we don’t (that is, Josh and Ashley choose not to share it with us which is perfectly in their right to do), what little glimpses we do get will be all the more sweet.

Movie Trailer Proposal:

Wedding Day:

Pregnancy Timelapse:

To Josh: Thank you for being an awesome and insightful YouTuber. I think you can definitely say you “got a girlfriend” now.

To Ashley: Congratulations! I have to wonder if you feel like you’re living a fairytale. Because that’s what it looks like from here. And it makes me so happy for you!

To the YouTube Community: Maybe we should take a lesson from Jashley?

Watch the whole proposal story here!

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Everybody’s Getting Married and I’m Not All Right

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If you use Facebook and you’re in your twenties you’re bound to be bombarded with the overwhelming flow of engagements, weddings, and general “bride glow” illustrated through a plethora of pictures and statuses in your newsfeed. It’s beautiful. It’s great. It really is. They all look so pretty and happy. Oh so very happy. (And yet somehow all it makes me want to do is cry and eat cake.)

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Mmmmmm, cake.
I’ve gathered from my parents and television that your twenties is typically the time that most of your friends get married. I’m 24 so only barely creeping on the halfway point, but this year in particular seems to have been when the shot was fired for all the brides-to-be to start the race. I’m sure this is only the beginning of the inundation of my Facebook newsfeed with Bride Pride, and it’s both exciting (because I love to see all my high school and college friends finding their Prince Charmings) and annoying (because I’m very far from a Prince Charming much less a Happily Ever After). In fact, at this point, I’m quite convinced that Happily Ever Afters don’t actually exist and that we’re fooling ourselves into believing that expensive weddings, white dresses, and elaborate honeymoons will be enough to satisfy a woman’s fantasy for the rest of her life. Disney, as much as you inspired us, you also ruined us.

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You made us impatient and foolish and full of fanciful thinking. You gave us false hope in finding True Love that would inevitably give us a Happily Ever After when it’s not that simple. And yet we’re still striving for it in those pictures. You can see it in the bride and groom’s eyes. They’re so in love and trying so damn hard to be the perfect couple. To be the couple they knew they could always be. No wonder we get Bridezillas, that’s way too much stress to put on any one person.

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You see we’re not perfect creatures. We’re too moved by feeling rather than logic when it comes to finding a mate so that we marry the guy with the grand gestures even if he’s got a shoddy relationship track record. And we wonder why our first time marriage divorce rate is so high? (45-50% in the United States.) But let’s not even talk about our second time marriage divorce rate…(60-70% in the the United States), it’s too embarrassing.
The thing is though that a lot of people I know and have grown up with and with whom I’ve fantasized about our individual “Prince Charmings” are getting married, and I’m just not all right. I think at first, when people started getting engaged, it just seemed like a distant “Well yeah, of course I knew they were going to get married eventually” kind of feeling. But now that the dates are rolling in, the knots are being tied, and the pictures are being posted, and it’s REAL. It’s “THIS IS OUR LIFE NOW.”
Why I think about myself collectively with my generation I don’t know. I’m not sure how many other people do that, but for me when it comes to big life changes that most people will experience I have to see it collectively. When we all graduated from college, despite our differing universities and degrees and future paths it felt like a big, mutual accomplishment. When we started getting our first “real jobs,” it was exciting and united. When we all start going through menopause I might finally feel back on track because marriage is a little different. We’re not all going to get married at the same time. Some of us probably won’t even get married. Some of us don’t even have significant others right now. Some of us love the single life. Some of us hate it vehemently. Some of us want to get married for the wrong reasons. Some of us want to get married for the right ones but are with the wrong person. Some of us just don’t know what the hell they’re doing. (This girl!)

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Sometimes I take a step back and wonder if I’m envious of these girls. If I’m jealous that they’re getting their “Happily Ever After,” and I’m sitting over here jaded in the shadows like a Disney villain—a fiendishly warped artistic rendering of the heroine princess. Well, at least I have no plans to curse anyone’s first born or put anyone in a fruit-induced coma. No, I think I’d rather figure out this life thing instead.
I don’t know if I ever want to get married. When I think about fulfilling that traditional feminine, “the husband is the head of the wife” role, I want to scream or punch something. I know that we’re in “modern times” now, and having a three-course meal on the table every night when your husband gets home and giving up your career in order to raise the children is not considered mandatory by most people anymore.
Although it’s certainly not completely out of the realm of possible expectations depending on the man you marry and his upbringing. Ultra-Christian men especially scare me. Being a Christian myself, every book and mentor is telling me to seek a man that seeks God first which is great, but sometimes there gets to be this twisted seeking God first turns into self-righteous blasphemy that “Christian Culture” (not Christianity itself) seems to accept if not necessarily outright endorse. Essentially, being an independent and strong-willed woman with a career-minded focus and personal goals starts to look threatening to certain types of men. I’ve fortunately never dated any though I have met them, and I wish I hadn’t. I’m sure it was useful to be given an illustration of who NOT to marry. But then there’s also the nagging fear that the older I get without a husband and still try to participate in church activities, the more resistance I might get from women in the Church (aka the wives). I‘ve heard the stories of single woman who are involved in churches being looked down upon as husband-hungry hussies. I don’t ever want someone in the Church to look at me like that. But because of who I am—a young, attractive, and independent woman—I fear that happening at some point.
All I really want is to feel fulfilled in life, and I don’t think that a marriage is going to do that for me. Facebook and all the Bride Pride likes to suggest otherwise—that your life is complete once you’ve exhausted all those creative DIY pins on your wedding Pinterest board—but that just isn’t true. Our lives are more than that perfect cake topper or wedding favor or photo-shoot. Our futures are worth more than the perfect dress or the perfect shoes or the perfect venue. Our “Happily Ever After” is more than a wedding. There’s the “After” too that we have to figure out how to navigate. A lot of my peers are doing that right now. I may never do it. I kind of just want to find my “Happily.” That would actually be quite good with me!

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I think if I had to put a moral to this, here’s what I’ve concluded:

  • All the marriages look like “Happily Ever Afters,” but they’re really just life.
  • There’s no point in being jealous that someone is living life, even if it’s differently than you.
  • Don’t marry the Crazy Christian who doesn’t accept women as individuals. In fact, don’t marry a man that doesn’t except woman as individuals in general. That’s way too 20th century.
  • There’s nothing wrong with the single life. Just live.
  • And finally, your life can be complete without a fulfilled Pinterest wedding board.

So everybody’s getting married, and I’m not all right. Not yet at least. It’s a work in progress. But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy for everyone who is getting married. (Yay! Congratulations!) Rather, I’m having to learn what it’s like to be part of a generational movement without actually participating. It doesn’t make sense, I know. But I’m coming to understand that just because I’m not doing everything my peers are doing doesn’t mean I’m falling behind in life.

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Five Reasons Everyone HATES Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day Sucks

You hate Valentine’s Day. It may even be your least favorite holiday.   Even when you protest and say, “No! Valentine’s Day is a day of love! I can’t hate it!” I know you do. You might even say you’re just indifferent to it because you don’t have a significant other or maybe you do but neither of you make a big deal about the holiday.  No matter your excuse, you do hate Valentine’s Day, and I’m here to tell you why.

#1: Valentine’s Day warrants high expectations.

No one wants just a simple “Valentine.” You want ALL the candy. And ALL the cards.  And when you’re older, you want a new diamond ring or a bouquet of roses or another cheesy “I ‘woof’ you” stuffed puppy chewing on a heart. If you’re not into material things, Valentine’s Day still encourages couples to express their undying love for each other in an original song or skywriting or a post-it note covered car.

I personally experienced this for the first time in 6th grade.  I had my first real boyfriend and I made him a card for Valentine’s.  It was sweet and dorky—expected from an 11 year old—but I felt like it was appropriate for the holiday.  I don’t quite know what he was expecting.  In fact, I think he may have even forgotten February 14th was a holiday at all.  I didn’t bother me that he didn’t get me anything for Valentine’s Day, but when he realized I had made him a card and he had completely forgotten, HIS expectations for the holiday went through the roof.  The next day I came to school to balloons, a heart shaped plastic container of candy, a stuffed animal, a fancy hallmark card expressing his eternal love, and a rose.  Well, it was a fabric rose, but he said, “it would never die like our love.”  It was overwhelming and embarrassing, and that was the first time I realized that something so simple as “love” or “like” or “affection” could be ruined by the expectations of this horrifying holiday.

#2: Valentine’s Day reminds us more of heartbreak than any lovey-dovey feelings.

If you’re single on Valentine’s Day, you have the opportunity to visit a “Bitter Mixer” and mourn your singleness. Sounds glorious, doesn’t it?  If you’re in a relationship though, it doesn’t spare you from the heart pains of Valentine’s Day. This is because you’ve surely spent at least one Valentine’s Day alone, and everything in the media tells you that this is wrong.

During my freshman year of college, my high school sweetheart broke up with me at 11:30 on February 13th because he hadn’t “gotten me a Valentine’s present.”  This was, of course, just an immature excuse to break up with me.  Looking back now, it was all for the best, but it happened at the worst possible moment.  I didn’t expect him to get me anything—we were three hours away from one another—but the WORST “gift” you could give your girlfriend is a break-up.  Every Valentine’s Day after that, whether I have a boyfriend or a crush, THAT is the one I remember.  Of course, I still celebrate in all of its silliness, but there’s always that creeping feeling of disappointment at the back of my mind.

#3: Valentine’s Day is expensive (for no reason).

It started with candy, cards, and flowers—overall not that expensive, but with time it has morphed into a wallet-munching monster. The jewelry commercials starting mid-January take the cake for over-the-top, cheesy “love.” Yes, an expensive diamond will DEFINITELY prove to me that you love me.

My brother made this mistake. While a senior in high school and having a difficult time with his girlfriend of two years, he bought her a beautiful heart-shaped diamond promise ring for Valentine’s Day.  (She was a bit of a high-maintenance girl coming from a lot more money than my brother and I do so I think her “expectations” were already a little too high.)  Even though he didn’t have a job with a consistent income or a real “promise” that they would stay together, he bought her this ring.  She broke-up with him in mid-March.  And she’s never given him the ring back.  He had hoped to return it and get the money back (who knows what he had to do in order to get the money in the first place).  In the end, it was all just a sad situation that could have been avoided if we didn’t believe Valentine’s Day can somehow “save” relationships.

#4: Valentine’s Day insinuates that “showing your affection” should be reserved for one day a year.

Why can’t we make every day Valentine’s Day? That way no man will ever forget Valentine’s Day again.  It’s preposterous to think that we should hold all of our little sweet gifts of affection for a made-up holiday.  If you want to write a song to your love, why can’t you? If you want to make your boyfriend a woven wristband to symbolize your feelings, why not?  Why is it silly to do these little gestures of love during the year, but sweet and acceptable on Valentine’s Day?  I would much rather find a bouquet of roses or a box of chocolate on a random Tuesday in July when I’ve been having a terrible week than EXPECT to find it’s equivalent in mid-February and even be offended if these tokens of affection were not present or worse, FORGOTTEN.

#5: Valentine’s Day can effectively shame both single people and those in relationships.

You know what one of the worst things that you could have going on during Valentine’s Day? A break-up makes you bitter, but what about if you’re in a rough patch in a relationship? You’re surrounded by sickeningly cute couples and red hearts and candy and every media source telling you that you should be “so in love,” but right now, you can’t stand the way he chews his food or the way she always says “um” before every single sentence.  It’s not an unnatural or worrisome part of a relationship, we all have those days or months where we just can’t stand the other person. Most of us, come out of it.  Some of us break up because of it.  But on Valentine’s Day, you are shamed for having any feeling for your significant other besides unadulterated affection.  For single people, it comes from a similar vein, you are somehow less worthy of love because no one wants you to “be their Valentine” on this particular day. It is thus mind-boggling that a day devoted to love could turn into a shaming experience because you don’t meet the “Valentine’s Day” standards.

So do you believe me now? Don’t you hate Valentine’s Day? It doesn’t mean you can’t participate in the silliness if you have a significant other or the bitterness if you’re single—it’s a fun part of being human and living in a First World Country—but maybe you don’t have to take it so seriously.  If the chocolate isn’t exactly right, or if the roses have wilted just a little, I bet your significant other won’t mind.  I bet when it comes down to it, being with your loved one or being free and single with your friends and completely forgetting about a made up, greeting card holiday might make for the BEST Valentine’s Day you’ve had yet.