In today’s post for me was an anonymous Valentine. My reaction was not a happy one. This is not a humblebrag, I promise you. I’m 33 years old this year. Social drama involving Valentines cards hasn’t been my idea of fun since East 17 were my idea of fun…
The envelope had a non-local postmark, and the only eligible person I’ve ever met in my life from near that area has been dead for six years, so, naturally, I’m a bit confused. Very few people alive have the address it was sent to, which narrows the sender down to a handful of longtime friends, a weird ex from a brief relationship four years ago who basically ghosted me but still sends them, or a serious creep who’s tracked it down without me knowing (FYI, it’s quite easy to look for an address – I know how; as would anyone who’s done journalism or marketing, or knows the slightest thing about IT). I’m writing this post reluctantly, because if it’s the first category, this is going to be embarrassing and awkward to someone lovely who was just trying to be nice. And if it’s category two or three, I’m giving them a public reaction, which is probably what they want (God knows what’s going on in their head – just stop and get help. Please).
But I thought I’d make this general plea to the world that if you send an anonymous Valentine (or make an anonymous gesture on any day, for that matter), please think about the impact it might have, and how differently something that seems cute and fun in a book or film might go down in real life (actually, this quite often goes wrong in books and films too – ever read Far From The Madding Crowd?). For women over sixteen who aren’t fictional, it’s as likely to be ominous as flattering. Thankfully, I’ve only been involved with people in the weird or daft rather than dangerously horrible bracket, but just imagine how scared you might make someone with an abusive ex feel (and please do not think this applies to no-one you know because you’re respectable and well-educated, innit…). If you want to send a card to flatter an innocent crush, or be kind to a mate, good for you, by all means do, but just do them a favour and put your name or some kind of clue on it, or they might not see it that way. If you feel you have to be anonymous, ask yourself why (and if you’re in a monogamous relationship with somebody else, just don’t. I won’t get into moralising here, but come on).
Forget the Valentines Day Sucks pieces about how terribly cheesy the marketing is (or, ahem, how terrible it is being dumped by phone in Durham by someone who’s panic-realised it’s next week…). Why it truly sucks is that few people in happy relationships give a toss about it, but it’s so easily used to manipulate people outside that. Sending someone a card after you’ve been told not to contact them again? On any other day, that’s stalking. But do it once a year on Valentines Day and it’s just fun, right? No. I feel disconcerted and reminded of sad things I’d rather forget, or at least not be reminded of this way. It may well be down to someone nice and well-meaning – I hope it is. But it may be someone I don’t want to hear from, and at the moment there’s nothing I can do about it because I can’t prove anything. In short, intentionally or not, someone’s upset me. That’s no fun, and it certainly isn’t something you should want to happen to anyone you love or respect.