The Best Valentine’s Day I’ve Had

I am single and it’s Valentine’s Day.

I will still be single on the 15th February, so why focus on this frequently overwhelming and loved-up day? Because it gives me a chance to reflect on a great night spent with one of my favourite women and a relationship, which after eight years, is still going strong.

Last year I had the best Valentine’s Day I have had in a long time with one of my best friends!

A few weeks before this lovely evening, I was having a low, self-pitying Sunday night. Sat alone in the flat watching an old rom-com, I started to think about my own non-existent love life. My mind was busy with the bad kind of thoughts: this is it, this is your lot, you’ll never find that person, you’ll sit and watch loved ones find new loved ones, all while you sit alone. The cycle of thoughts didn’t stop until I was a weeping mess, messaging the girls back home asking for advice and comfort. (This feels like an appropriate time to say that I love you all, and couldn’t imagine my life without you, to the women who have been a part of my life for nearly seven years).

The girls sent me messages of comfort, love and laughter. In the mist of this WhatsApp conversation was my friend, Mica saying we could and should go out on Valentine’s Day for a meal and a drink, lots of drink. My immediate response was “YES! But what about your other half?”, to which she replied that she would be back from a mini break with him and that she wanted to spend it with me. I was genuinely touched.

Fast forward two weeks and I was sat in an Italian restaurant in town waiting for my hot date. We had arranged to meet at the local cinema at 6 pm for a meal and a film but our poor organisational skills plus the fact that it was Valentine’s Day meant the cinema was fully booked. With Mica running late, I walked to the restaurant to secure our romantic table for two.  

Walking towards the candlelit table, I passed a sea of couples and actually had to stifle a laugh. I was laughing at the fact that this was my most romantic Valentine’s Day to date. Sat with a glass of water, I saw my date approaching, with the accompanying words “Is this the lady? Yes, this is my lady.”  

Neither of us could contain our laughter as we looked around at all the other diners at their candlelit tables. We were the only two women sharing a table together. Mica asked the question, “What if they think we’re a couple?”, to which I quickly responded, “And what a lovely couple we make”. It was a wonderful night filled with great food, lots of drink and the best company. We spent the meal catching up on everything we had missed since we last saw each other: her recent trip to Oslo, her other half, my last year of uni, films we had seen and loved, and as always desperately finding a time for all of us to meet up again.

Just as we were tucking into our dessert for two, Mica suggested a film next, returning to our original plan. She was still yet to see La La Land and I couldn’t think of a better film to see with a friend on Valentine’s Day. Mica fleetingly suggested seeing the new Fifty Shades film, but I protested. I would not be giving that film my money.

As we were waiting for the bill and getting excited to see La La Land, we joked that we were celebrating ‘Galentine’s day’ a day late. For those of you who don’t know, Galentine’s Day was thought up by Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope from the show Parks & Recreation as a day for women to celebrate the importance of female friendship in and amongst the build-up to Valentine’s Day.

Still waiting for the bill, we realised that we had missed the last screening of La La Land, and contemplated calling it a night. Mica pointed out that we had finished a whole bottle of Prosecco between us, and therefore might be drunk enough to endure the new Fifty Shades film.

Cut to us in our seats, a glass of wine in hand and already shocked at the number of couples around us. I genuinely thought this was the kind of film you would see on a drunken night with friends (hence me spending money on a ticket). Regardless, we laughed until we cried, and for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong places. We stuffed our faces with chocolates and ruined the romantic atmosphere for all of the couples in that screening.  

I texted Mica on the way home, thanking her for a wonderfully unromantic Valentine’s Day and for being a part of one of the funniest cinematic experiences I had in a long time.

This year, I will once again be using Valentine’s Day to catch up with a friend and will continue to treat this day like an extended Galentine’s day… which I hope would make Amy Poehler proud.

Happy Galentine's Day

The women who show me love, every day.


Words and images by Lara Scott.

Emotionally Abusive Relationships

Before I expose a very weird moment from 2015, I want to make sure you are aware of what an emotionally abusive relationship is.


I haven’t had the greatest experiences with relationships, I can pinpoint a few guys who I think are amazing people, but I can also pinpoint a time where I was emotionally abused but too young and ignorant to understand. So I’m writing this article is to raise awareness of emotional abuse in relationships.

Let’s name this guy Ben Circles.

Ben Circles and I met around July 2015, and like any other first impression, I thought he was pretty cool (him being an art student, and looking like Damon Albarn from Blur). We were very different people but had similar interests, so me forgetting to think before I act, we decided to go on regular dates.

Ben Circles was in fact, a loner. As peak as it sounds, I don’t think he had a ‘squad’ the only person he spoke about was his recent ex-Girlfriend of two years. During our short-lived “relationship”, I came to realise that Ben Circles had some serious issues with how he views women. I can safely assume he identifies as a feminist just to get girls to like him *vomits*. Late July, I get my first job, and things start to go wrong. Ben Circles began to whine about how my job was limiting our time together. My internal reaction was “Fuck off mate”. My external reaction was “Sorry, let’s meet up after work”. As you can see, I knew it was wrong for him to complain but tried to be nice. One evening in particular when I met him in Southbank, I had a good time but wanted to return home around 10:30pm. Ben Circles became incredibly frustrated with me because I turned down his offer to go back to his house. I make my own decisions of what I want to do and where I would like to go. As we walked towards Charing Cross station, I was incredibly taken aback by his behaviour. To make things worse he pulled a face that looked as if he was about to cry. Mate, grow up. You’re not entitled to me, and crying isn’t going to change my mind.

Ben Circles started to complain about our relationship because: I hadn’t been over to his house, I’d only wear my wigs around my friends, and during lunch I’d look at my food more than I looked at him. At this point I realised that I wasn’t standing up for myself, I began to only consider his feelings over mine. This is one of the first signs of an emotionally abusive relationship.

August 2015: my cousins wedding in Las Vegas. I reached a point where I was ready to dump Ben Circles’ foolishness into the trash. Ben Circles had asked not to be in contact with me while I was in Vegas, because he would become anxious if I didn’t reply to him *rolls eyes*

I’ll let you judge from these receipts:

Facebook group

This is how emotionally abusive partners manipulate you.

They convince you that you are unworthy.

They convince you that they are entitled to you emotionally and sexually.

They teach you to consider their feelings over yours.

They convert you from human to object.

After the “you probably aren’t worth it”, my feminist agenda stepped forth and said enough! I took out the trash and dusted my hands. You should never ever let anyone speak to you in that way. Men and women like Ben Circles are nothing but dirt. They’ll never love or respect you, only abuse you.

If you are reading this article and realising that your partner is a “Ben Circles”, please remove them from your life. Fuck the memories and fuck how long you’ve been together. If someone is emotionally abusing you, there’s every chance things could worsen, and even end up physical. If you have children together, you ought to protect them too before social services steps in or worse, your partner begins to abuse them.

After Ben Circles, I entered my first year of university with the mind-set “fuck relationships”. Now I can happily say I met the most wonderful guy that’s ever entered my life; you are worthy of being loved and respected. If your partner is emotionally abusing you, you need to act on it. Abusive relationships are not romantic, they are poisonous.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those who supported me during the Ben Circles period. Thank you for giving me confidence and laughing at his ridiculous behaviour.

Peace, Love and Cacti
Courtney McMahon



Further advice and help can be found here:

Words by Courtney McMahon, definition originally by
Images courtesy of Courtney McMahon


One of my most vivid memories of Year 5 and 6 in primary school, was getting asked out by a boy’s best friend and then giggling every time we held hands. Then being constantly asked by your friends if you love each other and replying ‘of course!’ It’s safe to say that my idea of love has matured a little bit since then.

When you’re young, it seems so simple. You either love them or you don’t. But one of the things I’ve learned is that sometimes it’s not so easy. Sometimes, people who you love do things that you hate. Maybe the first time in your life, it’s your parents. They don’t want you to have that cuddly toy and you just can’t understand why. When you’re older, you realise that it was just because they didn’t want you to be a spoilt brat. They loved you and wanted the best for you then, even though you just thought they wanted to be cruel. That showed me that love requires learning to respect someone else’s thoughts and ideas. Even if they don’t make sense to you. Lesson number 1.

And then came the first wave of ‘romances,’ if you can call them that. That first nervous little peck on the cheek and playing kiss chase with all the people your friends fancy. Your boyfriends and/or girlfriends came and went faster than you could eat your packed lunch. Do you remember how that felt? It was exhilarating at the time. Yet you look back now and you think, ‘that wasn’t love!’ And I don’t know about you but what that showed me is that love is more than just nervous kisses and games. There is more than living for the chase and hurting people just because we can. Love isn’t just lust and playing games with each other. Lesson number 2.

Soon there came secondary school. This is where I honed my cynical perspective on love to perfection. ‘Love is pointless’ was my mantra. Every time someone said the word I’d cringe. I had watched my parents fight and stay together and enough soaps by this point to know that there was more to love than just liking each other a lot. I thought that I was above my friends who would gush about their boyfriends as if they were their knights in shining armour. I saw my sisters have their first big relationships and scrutinised why they went wrong (maybe I am a Psychology student). And I thought I was smarter because I knew that love didn’t mean giving up as soon as things got hard. Lesson number 3.

Then, quite unexpectedly, I joined in the band wagon and had that typical school romance where you hang out at lunch and maybe even outside of school and you’re completely ‘in love’. This was around the time where I thought that I knew best and that no one older really understood. Classic. I remember me and my friends breaking up and making up and it all seemed so real and genuine. Now, those relationships seem so insignificant. And yet, those were real tears and real heartache that was felt. This is what made me believe that love isn’t always about your age. If it was real for you then, it was probably real. Just because it may have ended badly or you now don’t think of them as the love of your life doesn’t make the experience any less important. People grow up, and that just means changing the way we think about things. Getting older doesn’t invalidate our feelings when we were young. Don’t underestimate a teenager’s ability to love just because you think it’s different to how you do it. Lesson number 4.

For a lot of people, secondary school and college marked a lot of firsts. First kiss, first time and first ‘real’ love. Not always in that order. On top of that, everyone would be whispering about each other’s personal lives every chance they could. It was like a competition, who was having sex first, who had been together the longest. Even your best friends told people you didn’t really know. For some reason, this was everyone’s business just because they passed you in the hallway sometimes. Rumours would start, fingers were pointed. But love shouldn’t have to involve the whole school anymore. The gossiping got less brutal as you got older; but that still doesn’t mean your friends want to know every detail. Lesson number 5.

Like most things, love got more complicated after everyone left school. People had to get serious about long distance relationships because of university, and everyone matured out of their secondary school ideals. Love wasn’t just about making out on the sofa anymore. It wasn’t the most important thing, just one of. There was money to think about, a career, maybe travelling and learning to look after yourself. Sure, people go on dates, move in together and go on couple’s holidays. But there’s also family, socialising and food shopping. My point is, love requires just as much care and attention as your taxes. It’s work. Lesson number 6.

The most important thing I’ve learned about love by now, is that it’s different for everyone. It’s a cliché but love is complicated and I would never claim to be an expert. Maybe it’s not always a fairy-tale ending and maybe it seems like more hassle than it’s worth. But what if it’s not? It’s time to break away from the notion that love is just a fleeting thing that only happens to a select few. It’s something that you can make happen and has to be worked at so it can thrive. Then again, maybe I’m wrong and in 10 years’ time I’ll be the cynic I was at 14. But rest assured, everyone’s bumbling along trying to figure it out just like you and me. Lesson number 7.