Sweethearts and Sour Grapes: The Holiday We Love to Hate

Single students on Valentine’s Day consider the classic Hallmark holiday.

by Emily Wadlow | 2/8/23 2:20am

by Lila Hovey / The Dartmouth

Snow isn’t the only thing in the air. Flowers, chocolate and candy hearts reek of the love floating across campus. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Dartmouth’s couples seem to be happier than ever — and they aren’t afraid to show it. 

Red roses, pink hearts and teddy bears with “I love you” stitched across their chests are just some of the useless gifts that people exchange in order to prove their love for one another. Everyone needs to wake up and realize that Valentine’s Day is another way for companies to commercialize love.

I promise I’m not bitter. I love the idea of love. Just because I’m not in love does not mean I hate all happy couples. However, I do hate when people shove their love in single people’s faces. We get it — you have someone to spoon at night while I rely on the weight of my blankets to replicate human connection. The last thing I need is a holiday where I’m reminded of my inferiority simply because I didn’t get fifty chocolates in a heart-shaped tin. Maybe some think this is an unpopular feeling, but I know I’m not the only one with a disdain for the day.

Hadley Miller ’26, for example, has never liked Valentine’s Day. 

“There’s this expectation that is perpetuated on social media and in the movies that all relationships are perfect,” Miller said. “I think nobody ever really talks about negative relationships or problems on Valentine’s Day in particular, and it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, look how happy I am in my relationship,’ and not talking about anything under the surface.”

Romantic relationships are complex and multi-faceted, yet Valentine’s Day reduces them to a purely picturesque connection that must be validated through unnecessary gift-giving spurred by the holiday.

“The idea that there’s one day when you’re supposed to celebrate each other is kind of problematic,” Miller continued. “There should be that expectation every day to just be nice and treat each other well…[the holiday is] definitely an excuse to sell certain Valentine’s Day or romantic brands or items, so I’d say it’s pretty commercialized.” 

Kenna Franzblau ’26 shares Miller’s aversion to over-commercialization. Although Franzblau feels more neutral about the holiday than Miller, she is quick to point out the downsides of celebrating Valentine’s Day. 

“I think it’s definitely a Hallmark holiday and it just doesn’t have the richness of other holidays,” Franzblau said. “I don’t even know if I’d consider it a holiday. [Valentine’s Day] focuses on really materialistic and commercial aspects of love, which are definitely a part of it, but definitely not all-encompassing.”

Yet gift-giving is not necessarily a bad thing. 

“It’s nice to show your significant other that you care. However, it would be nice if they would do those things without the push from the pressure of the holiday,” Franzblau said.“I feel like it’s better if [the gift] just comes from the heart and your own will versus doing something because you feel pressure to do it from the holiday.” 

February never fails to remind me of the downsides of singledom, and I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. Valentine’s Day is an obnoxious blip in my otherwise drama-free existence that I would like to eradicate. The world would be a happier place if there wasn’t a holiday forcing people to either celebrate love or wallow in self-pity. For those couples that insist on publicizing their love, let them do so on personally significant days, like anniversaries. I can tolerate displays of affection every now and then, but to create a holiday where everyone flaunts their love at the same time is too cruel. Just let me live my single life peacefully.

The other eleven months out of the year, I’m perfectly happy being single. I don’t have a relationship suffocating me and I can do whatever I want whenever I want. While everyone else is rushing to find the perfect gift for their significant other, I’m treating myself to a new pair of sweats. As couples scramble to plan the perfect evening with the perfect dinner and perfect ambiance, I throw on a face mask, plop down on my beanbag, sip my tea and journal. But sometimes I wonder if drinking tea with someone I love would be better. Maybe they could get me the joggers and I could get them something they want. We could exchange gifts and then sit on my beanbag together. That could be nice.

But I’m not going to search for a partner for the sole purpose of alleviating my Valentine’s Day blues. That’s so much effort for one lousy holiday. So while everyone is celebrating their superiority and the success of their love lives, you can find me in my dorm practicing self-care and learning to love myself — despite lacking a teddy bear and an unhealthy amount of truffles.

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