Valentine’s with your BFF is much better
People are calling it Galentine’s
Single women do not care about Valentine’s Day anywhere near as much as people think they do.
Unfortunately you cannot say that, because it sounds like the sort of defensive refrain someone who really cares about Valentine’s Day would say. “I mean, it really is just another day,” you say, casually, at the pub – really, genuinely, casually – and sipping from a glass of white. And the couples nod encouragingly at you – a little too encouragingly, too fondly – intertwining their fingers on table, doing a really poor impression of people who believe anything you’re saying.
If you can’t beat them, you could intellectualise your opposition, and talk about the latent misogyny of the heternormative. Or you could get into Galentine’s Day. It’s still a cliche – but it’s a lot more fun.
The phrase was coined in Parks and Recreation (and technically takes place on 13 February) and marks a day to celebrate your friendship with your (girl) mates. It’s taking off; it sounds twee, and it is. However, as is often the case with these thing, the twee contains the potential for something fun. Whether you’re single or attached, sack off V Day and just go out with your mates (female or otherwise). Valentine’s Day with your best mate is much better.
It permits spontaneity
Valentine’s Day has no surprises, because few dates are surprising. Someone fell asleep after sex, because someone always falls asleep after sex and the symbolism of February 14 will not preclude the inevitable – no matter how much you wanted to whisper sweet nonsense till the small hours. Of course the “lovers’ meal deal” is expensive and includes only two glasses of Prosecco, because you grasped at the gimmick as a substitute for imagination.
On the other hand, nights out with mates are rarely the same. Sometimes they bomb; sometimes, they turn into a kitchen session that’s still going when another housemate gets up to go to yoga. You don’t really care either way, because there was no overarching vision for the evening: you live in moments rather than montages.
There’s no pressure
Big ticket days are too big to navigate deftly: you are always monitoring your thrill and thinking about how it would sound to someone else.
Obviously, this pressure makes you neurotic and hysterical. Over dinner, when he forgets that you used to play netball for your county (no one knows how it came up), you excuse yourself to the loos and stand, staring in the mirror and gripping the sink, mouthing “don’t cry” at your reflection. When you get back to the table he’s playing on his phone and you contemplate leaving him. This is who you are on Valentine’s Day.
On the other hand, sacking off bae to hang out with your best mate feels thrillingly rebellious and simultaneously low-risk. There’s no resentment as there are no expectations.
Valentine’s planning turns you into some kind of datezilla
Valentine’s Day with #hun involves an afternoon on G chat nervously coordinating your evening like it’s a first date, and you’re thirteen. “So i’ll see you outside the cinema!!!!” “Yeah will get the popcorn :)”, you twitter, doing a convincing impression of two people who have just met, for the first time, in a lift. You arrive at the Odeon on Holloway Road and he’s not there; you go inside, and he isn’t standing on the sticky carpet. You get the text: he’s fifteen minutes late. You feel self-conscious and as if you look like you’ve been stood up (literally no one is looking at you), so you have a cigarette for something to do, even though you’d determined you wouldn’t so you smelt fragrant. Obviously, this is his fault. When he turns up you’re distant and pissy.
You don’t have to go somewhere boring
Of course, the cinema’s an unimaginative date, anyway. Of course it is – Valentine’s is noisy and distracting, and you cannot think, so you default to what you think a date is: “dinner and a movie”, “cocktails”, something wacky like a “night tour of Victorian London” (sheer, kneejerk panic).
With any mate, though, you can just come home waving a bottle of spirits and see where the night leads. It will likely lead out – not to the cinema, or dinner, or cocktails, or on a “night tour of Victorian London” – but to the pub to meet more mates, or to a party (Londoners: throw house parties for V Day and we’ll all have more fun), or to a weird basement in Stoke Newington.
You don’t spiral into dangerous territory
High stakes impel bad decisions – another hallmark of A Significant Day is A Conversation. Today is important, you think, it is not an arbitrary date, and therefore I must have A Conversation. You pick topics like scabs, worrying at them. Bae quips about a mutual mate; you heave the conversation back to cohabitation, or marriage, or whether monogamy is compatible with lengthening life spans of people in first world nations.
I have both gently coaxed that first “I love you” from someone on Valentine’s Day (90 per cent sure they didn’t say it to shut me up), and been dumped in my bedroom on Valentine’s Day. This is not a coincidence; A Conversation must go somewhere.
On the other hand, with your best mate you don’t have to have A Conversation. You just talk, fluidly, about banal things; and inevitably, of course, these banal thoughts gesture towards the universal truths that A Conversation never touches upon. This is how friendship grows. On the other hand, if you’re edging someone into a corner (literally and figuratively), demanding their “life plan”, they will issue platitudes and you will both feel unhappy. This is how relationships die.
Bonus round: single and ready to really mingle
And if you’re single, you can have sex with anyone: a stranger, someone inappropriate, someone you’ve fancied for ages. Someone will be up for it, because it’s Valentine’s Day and no one escapes the suffocating symbolism of it, really. Until the point of entry, your BFF will be with you all the way – pushing you into the arms of the handsome/up for it stranger, because they have your basest interests at heart. This is friendship.
You start hooking up, hungrily; your BFF winks, sends a cheerful text expressing optimism you won’t be murdered by your one night stand, and vanishes into the night via a restorative mango Rubicon from a Kingsland Road corner shop. Their work here is done.
Later, the story acquires the high gloss of a far better anecdote because everyone else’s Valentine’s was so perfunctory. Normally, stories about one-night stands are boring, and couples rarely envy your single life: their eyes widen as you tell them about Tinder, they smirk knowingly when you explain that being single does not make you feel void and pointless. But they envy this story, because it is fast and glamorous, and didn’t involve a passive-aggressive conversation about whether or not to shell out for an Uber when you could still make the last Tube home. Your BFF will vamp up the details, loyally, confirming any sleights of hand (“he was SO hot,” they enthuse obediently). Thanks, babe.
Give love a chance – avoid your other half and show your bae-FF some affection.