By Eda Kamal, February 12 2024—
As February comes and goes, I’m sensing a lot of unease in my peers related to the time of year. While those who commit to romantic relationships experience the month in softness, I find that a lot of the single people I know experience turmoil connected to missing out on romance in time for Valentine’s Day. All the stores blush pink with frilly hearts, all the ads are incessant reminders of Feb. 14 — consumerism just loves a marketable holiday. But while the lovey-dovey themes are shoved in our faces by capitalism, we are reminded of what we do not currently attain — and I believe this makes us ungrateful for what we already have.
The hyperfocus on romantic love in our society through movies, shows, literature, and advertising is already incredibly intense but when it ramps up close to Valentine’s Day, it makes the divide between the importance of romantic and other kinds of love even wider. Whenever I see a social media post of a couple living their best lives together, the comment section is often filled with strangers humorously alluding to their demise because of how lonely the post made them feel. I don’t often see this behaviour on posts about friendship, for example. The yearning for romantic connection often completely overshadows appreciation for platonic and familial bonds, and it’s a phenomenon that affects other relationships.
Human connection is such an intricate and complex thing to get right, and creating bonds is much more difficult than any of us have been told. Friend-making on its own is very difficult and it takes years to find people you can truly confide in. With the promise of being loved in a completely new way, it is easy to abandon all other priorities and immerse yourself solely in the fuzzy warm feeling of romance.
In the past, I have grown distant from friends because they feel as though they cannot maintain a strong friendship and committed relationship at once. Often, they would have been my friend for months or years, while having been in the relationship for days or weeks. No matter how strong and close our bond was, they did not feel it was worth the time they could be spending on their newfound partner. I do not blame them — a partner is a best friend you choose to confide every part of yourself to, someone you choose to spend all your possible time with. However, friendships are important in the sense that you are continuously choosing that person. There is not necessarily a commitment to adhere to, but you want them around because of their energy. Friends know the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to you. They may be able to see the red flags that you don’t and connect the dots where you can’t.
From what I’ve seen, it is hard for people to realize that love isn’t reserved for the one you want to marry. Since I was a child, I’ve been told I was strange for saying I love everything. Yet this is truly how I feel — I love my friends, with my entire being. I love my cat and my family. I love food and long walks. I don’t just like them, I love them. It shouldn’t be weird to tell my friends I love them because, in a healthy friendship, they know what I mean and why I feel the need to say it. I feel platonic, familial and appreciative love so fully and deeply that I cannot help but express it and let it flow out of me like light.
Prioritizing romantic connections can result in isolation and neglect of relationships with friends, family, the world and the self. Around Valentine’s Day, it is more apparent than ever that a lack of a romantic relationship can degrade a person’s self-esteem due to how hyped the holiday is by society at large. If you struggle with this, reflect on how openly and honestly you have been allowed to express love in the past. Do you repress it because of the societal expectations around romance? Do not deny yourself or the world around you love. You have an infinite amount of it to give.
This article is a part of our Voices section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.