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“Valentine’s Day: how to survive”: Lucy Mangan on achieving romantic enlightenment


Are you feeling the fear as 14 February heaves into view? Then join me on the path to romantic enlightenment – once you’ve ticked off these eight V-days, you’ll be free of Cupid’s lure forever...

The Simple Valentine
Your dad uses it as an excuse to give you and your sister a big bar of pink fondant-filled chocolate for breakfast and tells you that he loves you both. Life is excellent, and downhill from hereon out.

The Hoax Valentine
Mine was at primary school. A group of embryonic mean girls left a card on my desk that purported to come from a nine-year-old boy – who shall, even at this distance, remain nameless lest my heart break again – and allowed my soul to fill almost to bursting with joy before descending like rabid bats with the jagged truth to tear it apart. Pieces of me withered and turned to dust that day.

The First Proper Valentine
Takes place some time between 13 and 16, depending on many factors but mostly how well your boobs have come in. I was 19. We need not dwell.

You have a boyfriend. Or at least a boy-shaped thing you have decided goes with your outfit. Either way, Valentine’s Day is a ‘thing’ and you are going to do it properly. You spend 42 hours choosing an outfit, then cry when you still don’t look like the one genuinely pretty girl in your class.

You meet him at the bus stop and stay there drinking cans of shandy if you’re brassic, or head to the cinema if you’re flush. Like sex in a year or two, you feel nothing but relief afterwards at another thing you can tick off your to-do list.

The Single Valentine’s Day
The most common type. You have no boyfriend. No prospect of a boyfriend. Your vagina has been unattended for so long that you worry your virginity has grown back. Over the years, you work through the five stages of Valentine’s grief – denial, anger, drink, reluctant attendance at speed-dating/agonisingly engineered events in rooms that essentially become centrifuges for despair and spit you out at the end with the kind of partner that has your vagina begging you to leave it unattended for another year, and finally acceptance – you genuinely no longer give a sh*t any more.

The Sh*t Valentine’s Day
They can all be given names like as-yet-unmade Friends episodes. The One Where You Find Out He Is Married. The One Where He Shares His STI Results. The One Where It Becomes Clear He Is Still In Love With His Ex/Mother/Special Doll. Or The One Where He Totally F*cking Forgot So It Became The Day You Broke Up Instead. Mine was The One Where It Turned Out He Wanted Me To Re-Take His A-Levels For Him.

The Perfect Valentine’s Day
You get one per lifetime. There are roses delivered to you at work, a beautiful restaurant and hotel, and hot monkey sex for afters. I imagine.

The Long-Shacked-Up Valentine’s Day
Wine, takeaway, chocolate, sofa, Netflix, shaved legs, bit of sex, fall asleep. As long as no-one’s asking me to revise the geography syllabus again, I’m happy.

Enlightened Valentine’s Day
Whether coupled up, Tindering nightly or totally single, you barely notice the date. Immune to the special promos by shit restaurants and overpriced red-boxed chocolates, you enjoy a drink, date, meal and shag whenever you fancy during the year. Raise a glass of champagne to yourself for rising above forcible romance. Happy Valentine’s Day to you!



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