It’s the weekend for love! At least, for some.
Some people love Valentine’s Day and go all-in on hearts, chocolates, flowers, candlelit dinners and celebrating their romantic partners.
But for others, it’s a painful reminder of how their dreams of true love ... aren’t exactly like they hoped. Maybe they’re struggling with relationships or have recently gone through a divorce. Maybe they’re a hopeless romantic who loves Valentine’s Day, but they’re in a relationship with a disappointingly non-sappy and un-Valentines-y partner. Or maybe they’re not-so-happily single.
For a lot of people, for a lot of reasons, Valentine’s can feel like a slap in the face.
So, some have tried to reclaim the holiday by instead celebrating “Galentines” or “Singles Awareness Day” (also known as SAD) on Feb. 15. Sometimes these are celebrated and enjoyed genuinely. But on the other hand, they can still feel like a hollow replacement that’s more pitiful than enjoyable, especially when you actually wish you could be celebrating Valentine’s itself.
You might also get the feeling that the people who are happily in love will look at you with pity — oh those poor miserable people forced to sit at the kiddie table, trying to have a good time but deprived because they don’t have any true love in their life. Even when we hate this lie, we sometimes buy into it anyways.
And that’s where the issue is. We have equated Valentine’s Day with a day to celebrate true love, and we have equated true love with romantic love. But here’s the thing:
True love is not only romantic!
Now, let’s be clear — I’m a hopeless romantic who loves sappy love, and I’m happy for people who want to celebrate that on Valentine’s. More power to them. But, romantic love is absolutely not the only love out there, not always necessarily the deepest and truest love, and certainly not the only love worth celebrating.
Where did this concept of “true love” come from, anyway? True love is just love that is true, right? So who made it romantic? Some might say it was fairy tales, although I’d argue it’s not from the originals — I mean, have you actually read the Grimm brothers? More likely it’s the Disney versions, which gave us concepts and phrases like “true love’s kiss.” Either way, over time our stories and our collective cultural psyche have attached the concept of “true love” to romance.
What makes me happy is even some of the biggest culprits, like Disney, are starting to realize how absurd this is and leave this concept behind. Movies like “Frozen” and “Maleficent” have switched up the fairy tale trope in order to focus on other types of love and relationships that are just as true and meaningful as any romance. And while some people are starting to understand this concept, it’s one we need to keep drilling back into our psyche:
Love can be true, deep, powerful, meaningful, and life changing without being romantic or sexual.
This is important to me, because I’m single, but I have a soul mate. My best friend and roommate Marissa is my platonic soul mate. We’ve known each other literally our entire lives; we are open with each other in ways we can’t be with other people; we trust each other completely; we have extremely different personalities, but we balance each other out in all the best ways; we are two sides of the same coin. We’ve joked many times that people who don’t know us would assume we’re a couple, because we’re that close. I feel like my relationship with her is just as deep and true as any I might have with a romantic partner someday.
Marissa and I celebrate Valentine’s together — usually with sushi, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and a chick flick. Even though both of us would love to have a romantic partner to celebrate with, our Valentine’s is more than just a commiseration pity party. We love to celebrate our love and how meaningful it has been in our lives.
And trust me, I get it if Valentine’s still hurts and is still a painful reminder of what could have been or what you want but don’t have. That pain is valid. I’m just suggesting it might help to focus on what you do have, the love that does exist in your life.
I say let’s make Valentine’s a day to celebrate love — all love. I mean, the day we’re celebrating is named after a saint who was a clergyman and never married, after all.
So celebrate your best friend, your support group, your siblings, your mentors. Celebrate the people who have meant the most to you, the relationships that have had the most impact, the love that has been truest — no matter what form it takes.
Hannah Romero is the digital media manager at the Rocket-Miner. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.