Many years ago I had made the decision not to write my thoughts about this day. I think I’ve pretty much stuck to that decision over the years, as I haven’t found a blog or Facebook post, from myself, about it. I’m stepping out of that well-worn path today. There are few things that I have wanted to write about and have not; this is one of the few.
I have felt for some time that there are two expected reactions to Valentine’s Day. On one hand, you have the seemingly acceptable response of celebrating it, people who are most often in a relationship. Then on the other hand, you have the seemingly unacceptable response, those who dislike or scorn it. Of course there are other responses, they just are not as common place, in my experiences. For instance, I have a friend who is ok with it, despite for some time, she wishes she could have someone to celebrate it with.
Me, myself? I really don’t care much about holidays in the first place. But this holiday in particular, I don’t think I’ve ever spoken about, because it seems as if anything you say against it, it will be taken as words of a lonely, bitter, curmudgeon, who is exposing exactly why they are single. While I want to reject to being described by those adjectives, I can imagine why they might possibly apply. Also, I know that some might walk away with nothing except that feeling after they read this, actually I’m expecting that.
No one should be able to argue that Valentine’s Day, probably more so than any other holiday is commercialized and no longer has its real value. I have previously looked up the origins of this holiday, but it never really stayed with me. Most people don’t really know the history behind Valentine’s Day, and to some degree I’m not sure that matters. That is not to say that appropriating something, erases the history behind it, or that the appropriation becomes more important. The problem is that the original use vs the intended use of something, if it has never happened in your lifetime, kind of makes it personally irrelevant. And maybe I should also say to clarify, something being personally irrelevant does not mean that it is irrelevant on a larger scale, whether socially or otherwise.
When I was a child in Middle School, Valentine’s day was done two ways. Initially it was used as a way to tell the person that you’re interested in how you felt about them. As time went by either the teachers or the parents decided to change that method. So it got to a point where either a kid brought Valentine’s Cards & gifts in for the whole class or they didn’t bring anything and that was usually because they were less than financially able to. It was kind of like the idea of everybody gets a medal. Which is also funny because as a kid middle school if it’s not your parents telling you about Valentine’s Day or encouraging some type of action for Valentine’s Day, where would a kid learn about it or know about it? Maybe nowadays with the internet and the various means of disseminating information to the masses, for commercialization, it’s different, but when I was growing up we did not have that or maybe I should say not to that extent. We had commercials, but in my mind when I saw the commercials Valentine’s Day was something for married people. Of course everybody has their own interpretations of things, so I’m sure that there were kids my age that didn’t tie the idea of Valentine’s Day together with marriage.
As much as I might be able to be defined by or categorized as lonely or bitter regarding Valentine’s Day, I also have to question what is there to envy? Because when I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of love. When I see Valentine’s Day playing out, now on my timelines on social media, in the past at jobs and things of that nature, I can’t say that I view those actions as love. Now of course one can say that you have the five love languages, some people need gifts in order to feel love, but the problem with that in my mind, is that why would you wait 364 days for this one particular holiday to show love through gifts towards that person. And if it was simply about a love language, then is that to say that the vast majority of women need gifts to understand that they are loved? Also if it was about love then why is it also an act of bragging, not just in the giving but in the receiving as well?
So, it’s not exactly that I envy people who participate or celebrate Valentine’s Day. I guess my issue with it, is more about what it represents in my mind, and what it reminds me of. One way that might be easy for people to understand, is the popular idea of how Valentine’s Day is kind of a singles awareness day. As if a person who is single doesn’t realize that they are single the rest of the year and that this one day and the preceding days or weeks up to it bring that awareness bubbling to the top. I don’t think that’s the case. I think that people like myself are always aware of their singleness. I think people like myself do attempt to eliminate that sadness or loneliness on a regular basis. But I think the likely scenario is that people like myself are outside of the social norm and expectations, or maybe have unrealistic requirements. And I’m sure that there are many other scenarios and nuances that can explain why some people are single and do not want to be.
I can definitely say for me, that my singleness has not yet caused me to get into a relationship strictly for the benefits of a relationship as opposed to my love for the individual; I can say that I have not begun to view a relationship as just the physical characteristics such as hug, touch, kiss, hand-holding, sex, excetera. For me a relationship is basically defined by the connection and caring between two individuals, not by the physical intimacy. I don’t mean to make this exclusionary, but I can only speak from a heterosexual standpoint as well as a standpoint geared towards monogamy, as well as what I’ve come to know as demisexuality. In a book that I recently finished reading called The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, he said something that I agreed with. He stated that love in a capitalistic society such as the United States of America, is a very uncommon phenomenon because of the pervasive idea of giving something in order to get something. I would agree. I have found in my experience, that what I consider love is not something that people seem to be used to, nor is it something that they can value because they often fail to understand it and appreciate it in this society. I like another thing Eric Fromm said, that love takes courage and faith amongst other things because it requires being vulnerable. To cope with this society, I think we are very averse to vulnerability and it’s sad that for as much as we talk about love and throw around the word of love that, at least in the definition which I hold, people are far from understanding love. So for me, even when the day comes when I am in a relationship, I have never been the type to wait for one day on a calendar to show my love. My love is not typically shown through gifts, but it can be, and it has been, but at the same time, my love has never waited for a day on a calendar or a holiday to be shown.
In bringing this to a close, you may be like me and wonder about my definition of love. I think that love is not something as undefinable as people make it out to be. For me there are different aspects of love yes, but they are interrelated to some degree. The type of love that Valentine’s Day is connected with inside of my mind is of course the romantic or intimate love such as a lover, not simply a friend or family member. And although I can definitely explain what I believe love is in a relatively concise fashion, I think it’s probably best if every person considers how they love themselves, and use that as a guide to figure out if they love someone else.
If you’re interested in further reading on the origins of Valentine’s Day. See below…