A very common misconception that some people have about Valentine’s Day is that it’s only for couples, and I believe that this has aided in what I consider to be an extreme romanticizing of love, which has done more harm than good.
In today’s American culture, Valentine’s Day is a day where many couples do something special that they would not normally do on any ordinary day. It could be something as extravagant as going to a fancy five-star restaurant to have a candlelit dinner, or something as simple as buying a card, roses and chocolate. To me, this is where the common idea that Valentine’s Day is only for couples is fueled from.
Taking someone out for an extravagant dinner is certainly something that couples are more likely to do on Valentine’s Day, but buying a card or some roses for someone is not. Valentine’s Day is a day where people are encouraged to celebrate the love and affection they have for others.
However, for some people, on Valentine’s Day the word love means that you love someone in a romantic sense. But that is not the way I see the holiday, and that may be partially because the idea that Valentine’s Day is only for couples was never presented to me while I was growing up. I didn’t have a girlfriend, so for me, Valentine’s Day was always just a day to show others how much I appreciated them. I would always make sure to wish my mother a happy Valentine’s Day, and I’m certain that I’m not the only son who still does this.
There are of course many people who are aware of the common conception that Valentine’s Day is only for couples and are perfectly fine with that. The reason why I think it’s bad for people to perceive Valentine’s Day this way is because the very notion that the day is only for couples reinforces the romanticizing of love between two individuals, specifically a male and a female. Because of outlets like Hollywood and the internet, society has reached a point where for some people the only kind of love that is really worth something is romantic love.
To me, it is dangerous to have this perception of love because it suggests that friendships can only go so far before they take a step towards a romantic relationship. It’s ludicrous to think that two individuals can’t just be great friends. It shouldn’t matter if the friendship is between two men, two women, or one of each.
I’ve had several female friends who have misunderstood my acts of friendship towards them as having flirtatious intentions, and it can be quite frustrating at times. Too often have I found myself saying to a girl. “Let’s grab lunch sometime, but not like a date or anything.” I shouldn’t have to clarify that my invitation to lunch is without the so-called flirtatious intentions, but not doing so just gives the meeting this underlying awkwardness that never feels good.
It also seems to create false expectations for both people involved that would normally only apply to a date. And this of course does not happen to me every time, but it has happened enough in my life time for me to have taken notice.
In my experiences, the whole concept that friendships can only go so far is most severe between guys and girls. I’ve heard it time and time again. “Guys and girls can’t be just friends.” The idea that heterosexual guys and girls are incapable of being “just friends” is ridiculous to me; however, I do understand why many people think this way, especially people in my age range.
I’ve also come to hate the idea of “shipping” two people because it hardly ever helps a situation. Many of my guy friends have shipped me with my girl friends and it’s never once done anything aside from give me and the girls something to laugh awkwardly about. Shipping can be perfectly fine in some cases, such as shipping two fictional characters, but when it starts being used on real people it can become much more impactful.
The romanticizing of love is something that will probably stand the test of time, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. Just because you have affection for someone doesn’t mean that you love them in a romantic sense. Parents have affection for their kids and vice versa. It doesn’t matter what anyone tells you or what other people think of you, there’s nothing wrong with having a general love and appreciation for another person.
And pity those who take your gestures out of context; what they think doesn’t matter so long as you understand your own love for others.