Courtney (left) and James (right). Photo: the author.
It’s Valentine’s Day, which means one thing: there are plenty of couples out there who are in a relationship and who think they are in a relationship. Meanwhile, the singles are living their lives as usual, knowing they don’t have to spend a ton of money on a “special dinner” or “wine” – unless they want to. themselves.
You might think Valentine’s Day sucks (“it’s a fake holiday made up to support consumerism, guys!”), but there’s no denying that love is nice – if you’re one of them. Who doesn’t want to spend the day with someone who thinks you’re fitter than most and could make you spaghetti on a special occasion?
That said, what do people even do on Valentine’s Day these days? We live in modern times. Relations have crumbled under the weight of the pandemic. People are in non-monogamous situations now. Nobody has time.
With that in mind, I scoured the streets (and pubs and restaurants) of London over V-Day weekend to find out: is Valentine’s Day still something people care about? What is everyone doing? Here’s what the couples I interrupted had to say.
James Woodward, 34, and Olamidé Noah, 31: “We went to dinner at the top of the Shard”
VICE: How’s your Valentine’s Day going?
Olamide Noah: We already celebrated on Friday evening! It was my turn to sort out Valentine’s Day this year so we went to dinner at the top of the Shard. But James did this elaborate thing last year during lockdown.
Tell me about that.
Noah: He sent a prom invitation to my address for a Bridgerton– themed dinner.
James Woodward: I cooked a roast dinner for us because we couldn’t do anything else. I moved all the plants in the apartment to make a little indoor garden and I played all the Bridgerton music. I also got her dance cards to wear around her wrist and wrote “Duke James” on it.
Wait what? Dance cards?
Drink : Yes, in the show, whenever they have a ball, the ladies wear these dance cards around their wrists. So I wrote my name on her card so we could dance together.
Guess you like Valentine’s Day.
Noah: We think it’s cute.
Drink : I think it’s nice, you know? It’s an excuse to be a bit fanciful. Normally we wouldn’t go to The Shard for dinner. I’m actually afraid of heights, but I was fine once I had a drink in my hand.
You two are so cute I could be sick!
Ellana Delfino-Rice, 25, and Ben Onyibo Ameke Robinson, 24: “We’ve already given each other gifts because we’re impatient”
VICE: Hey! What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?
Ellana Delfino-Rice: We’ve already given each other gifts because we’re impatient.
Do any of you feel like you have to go all out for Valentine’s Day?
Ben Robinson: Ellana makes me feel a lot of pressure.
Delfino-Rice: Well, last year everyone was posting their stuff on Instagram and I had high expectations. But I don’t have Instagram anymore, so… there’s a lot of positives to that.
It’s very honest.
Robinson: She compares herself a lot. I don’t feel too stressed about it – instead, I neglect it a bit. But there’s more pressure when you have a girlfriend with higher standards.
Delfino-Rice: We laugh about it now, but last year I didn’t get a card until after Valentine’s Day. He made me a condolence card instead.
Robinson: It took us a long time to be able to laugh about it. It was a painful subject.
Delfino-Rice: This year we are going for a drink in a small French jazz cafe in Liverpool on Mondays. We are only in London for the weekend, and socialize with friends while we are here.
Sounds like a good idea. No bereavement card this year!
Oliver Barsby, 22, and Lucy Martin, 21: ‘It’s really only one day at the end’
VICE: Hi both! How is your V-Day going?
Lucia Martin: We are going to Brighton tomorrow. We’re catching up on last year.
Yeah, not many options last year. Is there anything you wish you could do instead?
Martin: I would like to go abroad, but it does not make sense at the moment.
Fair enough. So how do you do the gifts?
Oliver Barbie: We usually only do wacky little gifts.
Martin: People spend so much on Valentine’s Day! It’s excessive.
Barbie: Yeah, the gifts that are marketed are tat. It’s like, trading bin stuff.
Martin: People can feel so much pressure to go overboard, but it’s really just one day at the end.
Discreet. I like it.
Courtney Nicole, 28, and James Hall, 28: ‘We had a ‘falling out’ last year’
VICE: So you two have been together for three years. Do you still celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Courtney Nicole: Honestly, this is our first Valentine’s Day together. We’re having a bottomless brunch now because we both have to work on Monday.
James Hall: Yeah, it’s our first Valentine’s Day – we had a “falling out” last year. Then we were long distance in previous years.
Do you feel more pressure because you didn’t celebrate well together?
Entrance: I had a hard time understanding the point of Valentine’s Day because I usually buy her flowers and bubble baths and random stuff like that. I don’t need a day to remember to be romantic, I guess.
Nicole: Yes, we have a great time relaxing at home and binge watching movies. But I think since we were long distance before that, we deserve a date… Or at least I do! But he’s right, he’s very romantic with me on a regular basis. I very often have this sweet feeling.
No traditions then?
Nicole: No, but we have a common love for food.
Entrance: I would be happy with a heart-shaped box with extra crispy bison wings and ranch dip.
Jonathan Broodie, 28, and Dominique Maynard, 27: “We’re not that romantic”
VICE: What do you think of Valentine’s Day?
Dominique Maynard: I don’t care. We are completely different people. He will accept whatever I decide. When we started dating, we both tried a lot harder.
And this year?
Maynard: If he brings me some pretty flowers at the store, I wouldn’t be mad at it. M&S are preparing a small meal on site for V-day. It’s such a good deal that we’ve already done it!
We both live together and work from home, so I wouldn’t say romance is dead, but we don’t want to be romantic. I believe in being absolutely equal in the relationship. We’re super laid back people so I wouldn’t be able to reciprocate big gestures!
Sophie Levine, 28, and Oliver Phillips, 29: ‘I think we’re both pretty easy to please’
VICE: So this is your first Valentine’s Day together? What is the plan?
Oliver Phillips: We’re leaving town on Monday for Selsey. It’s like a fishing town.
Sophie Levin: I haven’t had a Valentine’s Day for a few years so I’m delighted!
Do you two take holidays very seriously?
Phillips: We click pretty well so this year I’m excited to take it seriously. I’ve planned a few surprises that I can’t tell you right now!
Levin: Not too seriously… I prefer planned days or experiences to a gift. I think we’re both pretty easy to please.
Are you feeling the pressure, Oliver?
Phillips: I feel a little more pressure since it’s our first!