Feeling Whipped By The Commercialization of Valentine’s Day?

You can listen to the podcast associated with this article which was originally recorded as part of The Download 12/2/14

February 14th was my anniversary with my high school sweetheart. Though we had been dating for a while, we waited until Valentine’s Day to become official — because that’s what you do when you’re a teenager falling in love for the first time. We were together for a pretty long time, and after several years the pressure of Valentine’s Day anniversaries got pretty intense. We had big expectations, and every year we tried to outdo the previous one with more expensive gifts until we eventually became bitter about how excited we used to get about the day.

The first Valentine’s Day after we broke up, I realized that Valentine’s Day didn’t actually mean anything to me. I realized I actually kind of hated it. I disliked the commercialization of love along with the pressure to spend money on generic cards. Mostly I disliked the need to express affection through grand gestures and gifts rather than through a daily practice of love.I decided that I didn’t want to continue this tradition in new relationships, so I basically ignored Valentine’s Day for the following 6 years—unless you count passive-aggressive comments about how lame it is.

Last year was the first time I acknowledged Valentine’s Day in years. Okay, my partner was actually the one who acknowledged it, but his gestures reminded me that like any other holiday, you get to decide what it means and what you do. You also get to decide who you spend it with, since romantic love is only one of the many kinds of love that we can embrace. So this year I’m reclaiming Valentine’s Day as a day of adventure—a day to try something new with a partner, on your own, or with a friend.

All this brings me to a Valentine’s Day list, where you will find some less generic things to do this year in Montreal. There’s something for everyone, although you’ll probably want to skip some options depending on whom you’re celebrating with! My advice is to pick something you’ve never done before and go into it with no expectations other than to have a new experience.

If you’re looking to learn something, you can take a bondage workshop at the Alternative Lifestyles Community Centre (ALCC). On February 14th they’re offering two bondage workshops: Basic Bondage at 2pm and Intermediate Bondage at 4pm. Bonus: On February 15th they have a Spank Like a Pro workshop at 1:30pm. Prices vary but these 3 workshops are 20$ each and spaces are limited so RSVP to reserve your place. The centre offers many different activities on other topics such as polyamory, submission, spanking, bisexuality, and swinging. Check them out at alccva.wordpress.com for more info.

If you’re itching to spend some time outdoors, then a City lights snowshoeing excursion might be your adventure! Les Amis de la Montagne offer guided winter night excursions of Mount-Royal most weekends. Their Valentine’s Day special tour includes mulled wine and a chocolate truffle for 28$ on the 13th (English) and 14th (French). Snowshoes are included. Check out this and other winter activities on Mount-Royal at http://bit.ly/1ukTCWh

If you’d rather avoid the cold and get physical indoors, HappyTree Yoga is hosting a Couples Yoga workshop for 40$ per couple from 4-5:30pm on the 14th. Learning shared breathing and stillness together can be a great way to deepen both physical and emotional intimacy. For more info: http://bit.ly/1DJlZgs

On the more adventurous side, Moksha Yoga NDG is offering an Acro Yoga Basics workshop for 17$ on the 15th from 1:30-3:30pm. This would be a lot of fun to do with your partner or a friend and you don’t need previous experience! For more info: http://bit.ly/1D6pH5L. If you’re looking to just sit back and watch there are some great shows happening this weekend.

The Self-Love Cabaret is “an evening of self-love with an explicitly feminist, queer, anti-racist and anti-colonial mandate” that you won’t want to miss. The event is pay-what-you-can and you can check out their Facebook event for details: The Self-Love Cabaret: l’amour se conjugue à la première personne.

Blue Light Burlesque is also hosting a Valentine’s Day event at Cafe Campus on the 14th. Tickets are 25$ in advance and you can find out more at bluelightburlesque.com

If you’re not interested in leaving the house (or your bed), you can spend the night in with MakeLoveNotPorn.tv. They host and curate an awesome collection of porn that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people who believe that the sex we have in our everyday life is the hottest sex there is.” Check them out, rent a video, or make and submit a video of your own – the possibilities are endless and oh so hot!

Finally, if you must give a gift keep it simple and personal. I suggest mailing a handwritten letter to someone you love. We’re not used to receiving letters anymore, unless it’s bills or government mail, so it’s pretty exciting to get a surprise letter! If you’re having trouble with what to write, you can share your favorite memory of them; what qualities you admire in them; or tell them the story of the day you met from your perspective.

If you don’t have their address, just check next time you’re over or look up the area on Google maps. You can also find postal codes online once you have the address – which is only creepy if you think it is! Well there you have it, hopefully you’ve found something to occupy your time this weekend.

As for me, someone special will be receiving a letter in the mail from their not so secret admirer, and I’ll be trying to do as many of these activities as I can fit into the weekend. Chances are I’ll just start and end on the last one though… Happy Valentine’s Day!

Submit your questions anonymously at melissafuller.ca and check out “Sex & Pancakes” on Facebook.

The Download - February, 12 »

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