As Valentine’s Day approaches this weekend, I find myself getting rather analytical. There seem to be two ‘answers’, two approaches to the day itself: it’s either a forced, commercialised excuse to flaunt your ‘love’, or it’s considered a genuine way to express your emotional attachment to another person. This fact strikes me as fairly miserable – are there no in-between stages where things are still exciting and uncertain, or totally comfortable and unpressurised?
In the past week I have systematically (and until now, subconsciously) thought about all the couples I know, all the pairs I think should be couples, and all the singletons left over, methodically pigeon-holing them according to their St. Valentine’s plans. And through this critique – which I realise sounds as though I have absolutely nothing else to do with my time except psychoanalyse other people – I found myself pondering stages of relationship which, despite being ridiculously detailed, seem to make perfect sense. I don’t think it’s unfounded to say that there are stages between trust, being in a relationship and being in love, even if they aren’t immediately self-evident. But why is it that we are so desperate to classify life’s every little detail in an attempt to define the ‘indefinable’?
One begins to wonder about how many people are currently nervously arranging their Valentine’s plans, trying to categorise their relationship accordingly. As much as we’d like to ignore both private and public pressures, and despite the majority of people claiming not to like any ‘drama’ in their relationships, I think we all have a secret little yearning to spice up our lives. We complicate things to create interest for ourselves or to conform to some standard of social ‘normality’. This creation of new quantifiable dimensions seems to be one of the flaws of humankind. And we just can’t help it.
The desire to quantify everything descends even into daily life. Yesterday my housemate factored in no less than ten variables as to whether she should make dinner in half an hour’s time, or not eat at all. The clear choice, because she was hungry, was to eat. But through an earnest process of justification, she actually made a convincing argument as to why she was able to eat a plate of chilli, yet a portion of spaghetti bolognese was a totally unsuitable scenario. This proves one indisputable fact: humanity complicates situations for itself.
For me, this raises broader questions about the social conditions in which we live today. It seems that in the end, it boils down to humanity’s insecurity with itself and our potential capacity for knowledge. Given the vastness of the cosmos, anxiety is not so surprising. When contemplating (something which I do worryingly often) the number of people living in a particular country, street, or continent, it’s nothing other than overwhelming.
Valentine’s Day is certainly an occasion which forces definition. For whatever reason, in turn it only highlights our obsession with cold calculations of the unknown. We could justify this by saying that without knowable parameters chaos ensues, or that we want to learn from the past mistakes of others.
In writing this article I am myself, to an extent, guilty of trying to analyse human nature. Will the unknown always exist? At our current rate of scientific progression and social classification, it appears that the only things left totally unqualified will be those which we cannot touch or empirically experience, such as outer space and emotions.
I, for one, will be making a paradoxically conscious effort not to let over-analysis define my Valentine’s weekend. Have I found the answer? It must be acceptable. After all… I’m only human; this is all in my nature.