Don’t let Valentine’s Day drag you down, says Rachael Shearer, who rememebrs some of her best and worst ones and advises to enjoy the day – or not – at your own pace.

It's that time of year – again. And we’re all saying the same silly sayings we said last year, and the year before that. And we’ll continue to say them ‘til kingdom come.

Prepare for Valentine’s Day to come and wreck your week.

This is the worst day of the year for everyone. Singles, couples and newlyweds alike are suddenly under immeasurable pressure to weigh up their love lives next to a Hallmark slogan and see how well they’re faring.

Are you guys so adorable that you’re, like, literally the envy of all of your friends? Are you the funniest single person ever and going to host an amazing singles party where everyone gets totally wasted and has the best single time ever??

Or, like me, are you simply dreading it all?

Admittedly, as a teen, I was very “into” the whole Valentine’s Day thing. I got a huge kick out of the naff presents and sticky sentiments, and loved being one of the loveable ones on the most loved up day of the year.

The cards, the restaurant plans, the weeks and weeks of girly gossip building up to that special day. Teddy bears holding love hearts, roses bought at a gas station, necklaces Made in China – the works.

I remember my fist Valentine’s outing when I was just 16, going on 17. (Conveniently, my birthday is five days later which meant a double present week and extra attention on me me me.)

As the song goes, “innocent as a rose,” he arrived to pick me up with a single red rose. We were going to a fancy French restaurant in my small hometown and were feeling pretty grownup about the whole thing. I curled my hair, wore 7,000 layers of makeup and borrowed a black dress from my older cousin, so I was basically looking like a child prostitute.

However, this romantic pickup situation wasn’t at my front door. No no, it was in town. With all of our friends. Hanging out in the square where we always hung out.

He turned up and I was surrounded by approximately 15 of our mutual friends who proceeded to laugh and jeer as he turned the same color as the thorny rose wrapped in plastic under his arm. Oh yes, we were a right pair of adults.

The adulthood progressed further as, when seated, the waiter asked if we would like some red wine with our orders of fois gras and truffles. The velocity with which the water shot out of my date’s nose was truly remarkable, and I followed suit in a bodily convulsion of hysteria.

RED WINE? US?? Yes, the legal drinking age in Ireland is 18, and yes, we had both been drunk on several occasions before then, but the prospect of ordering a bottle of wine at a restaurant surrounded by other adults on dates was too hilarious for our child brains.

We ordered two Cokes and managed to choke down or disgusting French food while stifling endless fits of laughter. We got out of there as soon as we could, rejoined our fellow adolescents at SuperMac’s and decided to put being grownup on hold for another few years.

A little later in life (the following year – different boyfriend) I enjoyed a much simpler Valentine’s Day with rose petals and candles and wine (bought at a supermarket) and no glaring stares of adults relishing in the clumsiness of our youth. We were still young and dumb and mind-bendingly cheesy, but it was about as perfect as the whole rigmarole could get.

However, when I turned 18 those precious five days later, the jig was up. I was a legal adult and cynicism grabbed hold. V-Day has never, and will never be the same.

Each year since has gone as follows:

2009: Melting a kilo of chocolate in a saucepan and eating it with equally single and female roommate.

2010: Spending the day with aforementioned ex-boyfriend while waiting for inevitable breakup with current boyfriend.

2011: Semi-boyfriend turned up at my house with wine and chocolate saying, “My mum made me do it.”

2012: Refused to let boyfriend celebrate V-Day OR my birthday so I did nothing, alone -- to make a point. Obviously.

2013: Went to a bar with friends and made awkward eye-contact with current boyfriend who was, at that point in time, just my best friend who I had casually, secretly and very drunkenly kissed twice. Peak romance.

2014: Worked at a restaurant serving cute New York couples their romantic dinners while dying inside.

2015: Ideally any kind of improvement on the last six years.

The problem with being the kind of person who hates everything is that you’re not allowed cave and suddenly decide you actually want to do something for Valentine’s Day. That would be lame, conformist and sad.

The problem with being the kind of person of loves everything, is that you inevitably build up Valentine’s Day to be a pinnacle point in your annual cycle, more significant than New Year’s Day, and more likely to end up being wildly disappointing.

How to avoid these pitfalls? I vote for spontaneity.

Don’t plan anything. Do not hope for surprises, do not have any expectations whatsoever, and do your best to forget that it is even a day.

When people ask what your plans are, throw them a coy smile and say “Oh, I’m not sure yet...” This implies that you are definitely doing something but that you’re not a hot mess stressing about it and that it will probably be amazing because of that coy, suggestive smile that you’re effortlessly throwing. (I recommend practicing this in the mirror).

Only a few days ago days ago I realized it had been two years since our first horribly drunken kiss (which is basically our version of an anniversary) and we just happened to be having a nice brunch at the time of realization. Hurrah for accidental celebration and the total lack of presents, pressure and stress.

So I suggest just doing what you do. Live your normal life, and if you’re spending time together on the day, then great. What do you need to prove by putting on a show?

Also, screw Valentine’s Day because that’s everyone’s day. To me, there’s nothing special about that.

Make your own day and celebrate that instead. Do something that’s unique to you as a couple.

Anyone can buy a bunch of flowers and chocolates but there’s only one person who would know how to make you really happy and make you feel really special for a day. So let them do that and on their own time. They’ve probably already done it a billion times throughout the year, so just think about all of those moments rather than big ole February 14.

Don’t let Valentine’s Day be a stupid test for your boyfriend to fail. And if you are single, see V-Day 2009.

Avoid the pitfalls of a holiday that can really be a trap!iStock