It’s really not just another day, but a festival of trauma or companionship depending on who you are.
Valentine’s Day…that day of annoying, obnoxious romantic declarations and people who seem to be either grumpy or self-absorbed. It’s a lot more complex than the adverts make out though. Valentine’s Day is a complicated affair for everyone who has to experience it.
Valentine’s Day can be scoffed at for its commercialism but it’s important to remember that not a lot of people get time with their partners. We have some of the longest working hours in Europe. If people want to partake in a special day to spend time and give each other attention, then is there really anything truly wrong with that?
The idea though that everyone has to partake, centre that day and be exposed to other people’s relationships can be problematic and, sometimes, traumatic for others. Some people are romance repulsed, some aromantic people or people who have survived intimate partner violence may find that anxiety, depression, stress or painful memories are triggered by the overwhelming focus on romantic love.
Being romance repulsed isn’t as simple as hating that mate who never shuts up about their boyfriend (and please, for the love of life, talk about anything else). Romance repulsion is recoiling from any romantic experience or aesthetic. It’s not always present, and can be triggered by different things and at different times but Valentine’s Day can be tough for a lot of people.
“Romance repulsion is recoiling from any romantic experience or aesthetic”
If romance repulsed or aromantic people don’t want to hear about your relationships it’s probably not because they don’t care, but because of the horrific social pressures that relationships always carry with them. To one person, it may be sharing a story, but someone else could be hearing how they don’t conform to society’s expectations and how their identity is perceived as wrong.
During events focused towards alloromanticism, we also should be aware of the impact that this can have on others. Everyone should be free to celebrate, but there also has to be consideration that this can be a traumatic event for others. If we want to make Valentine’s Day tolerable then let’s also make it mindful of others.
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