I adore Valentines Day. I tend to cop a lot of flak about this from my single friends, because they think that Valentines’ Day is only for couples. I’ve been with my boyfriend for nearly seven years, so I do have the advantage of having someone to celebrate Valentines Day with. I’m always guaranteed a card and a present, so I never have to worry about missing out on the big day.
Around Valentines this year, I was struck by the number of people online and in my real life who were bagging out Valentines Day. Some say that it’s a day built around corporate greed, and that the greeting card companies invented Valentines Day to get us to spend up big on chocolates and cards. Some say that Valentines Day is only for couples, for people with somebody special in their lives, and that singles are just made to feel like crap on this lovey-dovey day.
This made me really sad. Even when I was single, I still enjoyed Valentines Day. Sometimes it was because I got a nice surprise present and sometimes it was just because I enjoyed having an opportunity to tell people that I love them. Once upon a time, I did gauge the success of my Valentines Day by whether I got any presents or cards or not. This was quite debilitating and I set myself up for a lot of disappointment. My mother was actually the person who prompted me to turn this around. One year, I was devastated because I didn’t have a boyfriend and nobody bought me anything for Valentines Day. I came home from school and my mother had bought me a lovely new set of pyjamas and some vanilla candles for my bedroom. It was one of the sweetest Valentines gifts ever. She had written in a card how much she loved me and how proud she was of me, and I realised that romance isn’t the be-all and end-all in love.
I got to thinking that perhaps we place too much emphasis on the concept of romantic love. Although romantic love is fantastic, and it’s wonderful to have a partner who you love and trust, there are so many other kinds of love out there in the world. There’s the love we have for our families and our pets, the camaraderie we share with our friends, spiritual love for the world around us and our religion (if you have one) and even the love we have for ourselves. None of these types of love is better than any of the others, and none of them are more important. Most of us would have at least a couple of these types of love in our lives right now. I think that if you have even one person in your life that you love, and who loves you back, you’re lucky beyond measure, no matter what kind of love you share.
I wonder if we all made a bigger effort to celebrate every kind of love we know, whether there would be fewer sad people around Valentines Day. If we took the emphasis off romantic love as the only kind that counts, perhaps more people would realise that their lives aren’t empty and devoid of affection, but that they are surrounded by love of all kinds. I’m not saying that we should do away with romantic relationships, but I think it’s really important to highlight the fact that love really is all around us, in more shapes and forms than we can imagine.
This week, I want every single one of you to make a bigger effort to share your love and let your feelings be known. Tell your family members how much they mean to you. Send flowers and chocolates to your mates. Write your best friend a letter listing all the things you think are awesome about them. Take yourself out on a date to someplace decadent. Call your grandparents and giggle over the phone at their stories. Thank God for everything you’ve been given. Give your lover a bubble bath. Cuddle your pets. Say thankyou to your favourite store clerk. Make a big effort to tell people how much you love and appreciate them. If everyone did this a bit more often, I believe that there would be fewer people out in the world who felt lonely, unappreciated or down on themselves. If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, that’s wonderful, but if you don’t you aren’t love-poor. The more love you share, the more you’ll get back, and the better you’ll feel about yourself and your world.