(Illustration: Sam Taylor)love
IF YOU'RE IN A RELATIONSHIP
Oh, Cheer Up and Do Something
If you truly believe that Valentine's Day is a patriarchal conspiracy run by the shadowy lizard men at Hallmark, then good luck to you – it's fun to say the Beatles suck and that you prefer Burger King to McDonald's, because rejecting the status quo is how younger generations change things and how progress happens. But don't you remember the episode of Roseanne where Darlene and her boyfriend are having Christmas alone for the first time and they're eating mac and cheese and sitting on cardboard boxes while everyone else is having fun as a family? They're all, "This is cool...right?" to each other, then they shoot each other sad, questioning glances and it cuts to Dan being adorable and well fed back at the family home.
Sure, corniness and tradition are gross – a good argument for that statement is how Gary Barlow is a piece of shit and bear baiting is terrible, but sometimes being all Generation X-y about everything can get exhausting, and sometimes it's nice to do nice things even if all the lamestream people are doing nice things, too.
Also, if you're a boy and your girl is often accusing you of being a childish, listless deadbeat (which is pretty common in your twenties), a small observance of this centuries-old festival might make you seem, at least momentarily, like an adult human with his shit together. And – without wishing to paint with too broad a brush – most girls quite like that.
No one's asking for a lot – If you're dead broke, it doesn't really matter. Just having a shave, dropping 10 quid on flowers/chemist-bought Durex sex toys and spending the evening being extra nice is plenty. The point here isn't that you're a flash cunt – it's that you give a shit, and you're prepared to put aside your radical principles/over-it vibes and look like a dickhead carrying an oversized teddy bear on the bus to her house just to make that clear. Cute, right?
...But Don't Do Anything if You're in a Fight
Oh yeah, if you're in a serious fight that's lasted more than a few days, ignore everything that I just said about doing anything at all, because nothing compounds thinking you might actually be really wrong for each other like having to pretend you're really right for each other, in nice clothes at a reasonably priced restaurant.
It's hard to write this stuff for both sexes and not make the whole thing a mess of dashes and pronouns, but these kind of arguments are real week-longers and can end a relationship if they're not dealt with right: His mother is always really unwelcoming to her, she's constantly rude to his friends, he speaks to his ex-girlfriend too much, she cheated in Malaga, he cheated in Beefa, she wants to move to Brazil – don't they all sound like decent reasons to spend this Friday hanging out with your fugly housemate and some Netflix?
What's that? You don't agree? Then think of Jarvis Cocker at the 1996 Brit Awards – Booze x Extra Pressure To Behave In The Face Of What You Perceive As Idiocy can end with national notoriety. Or just you being asked to leave Nando's for making your girlfriend cry. If you're midway through a "difficult period", just tell each other you'll speak on the weekend.
Sex Toys Are Appropriate Presents
If you're a girl in your twenties and you throw your (metaphorical) toys out of the pram because someone gave you a (literal) toy on Valentine's Day, you're probably missing the point of being in your twenties and being given a sex toy on Valentine's Day.
If you find yourself saying something along the lines of, "This is a present for you, not a present for me," and getting mad, then isn't there a chance that you're not into it because you're with the wrong person? Or that you're confusing a reasonable expectation of respect for you as a person with a pious, Victorian attitude to sex?
To be clear, sex shouldn't be a reward or a bargaining tool, but something you both enjoy equally and pretty much can't wait to do again seconds after it's over. If you're given a vibrator or some lingerie as a gift on Friday, that's probably not an affront to your person-hood. That's someone who you're supposed to enjoy fucking saying "Hey, let's fuck in this new, fun way, with an electronic thing!"
If – in this liberated, post-XOJane, post-Tumblr porn gif world – you're not having kinda dirty sex at least sometimes, then that's fine I guess. I know they're trying to get asexuality recognised as a thing and all that, but is there a chance that maybe you're just not comfortable with yourself? Maybe you should sort that stuff out? I don't know – it's none of my business anyway.
IF YOU'RE SINGLE
Let It Go, Buddy
And so beginneth the section of this article directed at single people. Those among you who are too dysfunctional, unpleasant or terrible to maintain human relationships... just kidding, it's just not your year, but this shit comes back round. One way you'll prolong it not coming back round, however, is by trying to reignite stuff with your ex in all manners of limp, pandering or pathetic ways.
Of course, this doesn't just apply to Valentine's Day, but it does especially apply to Valentine's Day. If grand gestures like extravagant gifts through the post, turning up unannounced outside their window in the rain or 2,000-word-long love letters haven't netted a positive response in the past, it won't make a tiny bit of difference to the target of your affections if it's Valentine's Day. If you go through with what you're planning, you're going to end up sadder and more alone than ever before, because they just don't care about you like that any more.
We've all done this shit in the past, and sometimes it's really hard to drag yourself out of it, but my advice to you isn't to go out and do a ton of drugs or fuck a ton of strangers – as I mention elsewhere in this article, you'll only feel worse – my advice is to stay home. Flit between prison documentaries on YouTube, faff around on Just Eat for an hour before ordering, watch a ton of Comedy Central, take a Nytol, go to bed. If you're cut up about someone, just distract yourself from it with alone time stuff until you've crushed those feelings in your mind/ridden things out a tiny bit. Especially over "trigger" periods like VD.
Then start on Tinder first thing in the morning.
Male Models Are Human Garbage
This one's for the ladies, because all boys have known this forever, but those good-looking, well-manicured men who hang out at your favourite bars a lot and don't seem to have any male friends? They're either male models ("alt" male models if they've got throat tattoos!), vain mid-level marketing executives or pick-up artists in all but name. And on Friday, they're gonna be out to get you. They know you're bummed you're single, they know you're drunk and they've even ascertained you're kind of horny, so they're going to be on you like white on rice. They're lonely as shit and this is what they live for.
They might seem like a great idea: They look great and they seem together (via wearing really smart clothes) – they might even be able to hold a conversation. But don't fall for it! It's fun to get laid, and meaningless sex isn't the worst thing ever, but these vacuous pieces of shit are self-esteem suckers who aren't even very good in bed (they're too into hygiene to do mucky stuff like put their fingers in your butt) and they're so into themselves they'll look straight through you when they're leaving in the morning because they've got a session with a personal trainer at 12 and they want to wash their hair before that.
They're lonely because there's nothing to them, and you'll feel lonelier than you did last night because you basically just fucked a real life blow-up doll and now even they've left you.
If you're not sure what to look for with these guys, be wary of anyone wearing a thigh-length Burberry coat in the bar, as that's the 2014 equivalent of wearing sunglasses indoors. And if you're still not sure the guy who's hitting on you in the local late-night sinkhole is one of these douches, check his Instagram while he's in the toilet. How many selfies has he got on there? If it's more than none, GTFO.
University Singles Events Are Terrible
This should be straightforward: You're young, you're smart, you're reading VICE, of course you're not going to a Valentine's traffic light party at the Student Union. But, as lines between mainstream and alternative cultures no longer really exist, so too do the lines between shitheads and decent human beings become harder to define. Who knows what you're up to when you're not reading this website.
My beef with singles events isn't that no matter how you much you cloak singles events in irony, sarcasm or knowing winks, they're still the domain of wizard-level turds and dead-behind-the-eyes beauty therapists. I'm no snob, and some of those beauty therapists are pretty fly. My beef is that singles events are the domain of people who have given up.
If you're at university in even a medium-sized city and you're resorting to a faculty-organised social event on faculty property to meet people of the opposite sex on Valentine's Day (a Friday, to boot) when there's dozens of kids putting on their own events, having house parties or drinking in fun, weird bars around town, then you are Carlton Banks, you hate fun, and being young is wasted on you.
Get out there, do some weird young-person stuff that even people who are only 30 won't understand. Make out with weirdos, have a threesome or find love that makes you scare yourself, because there's nothing greater than being young and in love, and if you're looking for institutionally sanctioned love at 22, you'll be at salsa classes by 25, and that'll be the end of being young forever.
Follow Robert on Instagram: @bobfoster83