The Tribes

What Kind Of Hopeless Romantic Are You?

The good, the bad and the embarrassing – all life is there to see on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day should be nice, really. A day of love and, hopefully, sex, but let’s call it what it is – it’s a pain. The problem is you can’t win. Participation leaves you bankrupt, both financially and morally, yet to ignore it is tantamount to not giving a pregnant woman a seat on the bus – something that will haunt you until you die, and then haunt your ghost thereafter. There are ways around it. If you’re coupled up, a nice walk, some pretty flowers and a decent home-cooked meal, and if you’re not, all the above while crying silently into your sleeve. Unless you’re one of those people who can take it all in their stride, single or not, you’re probably one of the men listed below. Sorry about that. And happy Valentine’s Day.

The partner who forgot

The thing about Valentine’s Day is that the whole endeavour is rooted in deep preparation. How can it not be when, on this day of the year, even your local Prezzo morphs into The Ivy? There are no unbooked tables in the entire UK on this night, yet every year he forgets this. There are no cut flowers in zones 1 to 3 of London, yet every year… Every film at the Odeon is booked up and has been for ever, and the only men who’ll get away with forgetting to buy a card are deployed in Libya and still probably managed to send a sketch of their genitals back home via carrier pigeon. When will he learn, he thinks, breaking the arms off a gingerbread man from Greggs in an attempt to turn it into a heart? When will he use his noggin, he cries, hurtling down the A2 from Shell to BP trying to find some fresh roses? When will he put a reminder in his diary, he wails, putting a reminder in his 2020 diary? Rest assured, he will live to forget again.

The just-been-dumped singleton

He wakes up, opens the curtains and looks outside, his tired eyes once again landing on the black abyss of winter glinting in the low sun and remembers that he is single, just recently, and everything is incredibly hard. Valentine’s Day for the newly single is like Christmas for turkeys. Yes, yes, he knows he’s lost all perspective, but that’s what his ex was for. After a compulsory but largely unsuccessful Instagram stalk to find evidence of the ex’s deep sadness and regret, he is bolstered by a photo of them looking a bit fat and heads downstairs. There, on the kitchen table, he finds the Moonpig card he had designed before the split. In hindsight, “Never leave me or I will die, luv you xo” was probably a bit much.

The poet

“If we had but world enough and time, this Valentine’s dinner special would be no crime,” Hector sighs, his eyes lighting on the sparkling tip of his date’s wine glass, the stanzas pouring out of him like the flattening champagne from the bottle in his hand. He has written her six poems for this very day, tracing the arc of their three-week relationship, invoking as many of the muses as he could remember, describing in detail – oh, the detail – a riverbank he once sat on as a boy and how the memory of that riverbank returned to him the first time he ever wrote a poem for her, his date. “I knew then,” he tells her, eyes meeting eyes, “that the riverbank was my soul, and that I was sitting there waiting for you to bring it to life.” This time of year, the romance, it really brings it pouring out of Hector. He’s sent his poems to a publisher and there’s talk of a book, Valentine’s themed. His Instagram is blowing up, his finest lines displayed on a background of roses, hearts or – his favourite, how could it not be? – a riverbank.

Mr “It’s still early days so surely I don’t have to get her a card”

Harry likes Anjali, but he doesn’t want her getting any ideas. He’s got his oats to sow. Two or three fields’ worth of oats, and he’s not going to get that done by putting on some big Valentine’s performance for her. He needs her to understand – without him having to actually say – that he’s a man who’s not going to be tied down just yet, that he’s like the wind, in that you can’t keep a hold of him and he’s cold. At the same time, Harry isn’t seeing anyone else right now and if everyone else is going to be out getting busy, then he may as well be, too. They’ve only been on two dates. Surely, they’re not, gulp, a couple? So, there’ll be no Valentine’s performance. And by that, Harry means that he probably won’t get her a card and, if he does, it definitely won’t have a heart or a bunny rabbit or a badger or whatever on it. And, yes, he probably wants to make it to date number three.

The Grinch who refuses to acknowledge Valentine’s Day

Yuri has decided he won’t acknowledge Valentine’s Day and is committed to bringing down the romantic-industrial complex. If he’s in a supermarket and he sees a sticker saying “meal for two” he scrawls “FOR ONE” over it. He replaces photos of happy couples with seascapes in bleak midwinter. Capitalism has convinced people they need to spend money in order to express love. It’s a con and Yuri knows it. Instead he’s hand-drawn a collection of cards with an image of Dunkirk on the outside, the line “You will die alone” on the inside and a grave on the back. He gives them away outside Pizza Express on Valentine’s night. He’s created a Tinder bot that takes on the form of Mr Tony Blair and sends any user who interacts with it justifications for the Iraq war every five minutes. He regularly tells people that the real St Valentine cut his hair off on Valentine’s Day. Does that sound like the kind of thing a man wielding a giant bear and a heart made of chocolate would do? Exactly. Yuri’s boyfriend just grins and bears it. Until next year.

Love thyself

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