Chocolate, kisses, and the pressure to say ‘I love you’

We learn early on how to show affection to others, so why pick one individual to appreciate Feb. 14th? (Nathan Paton/AQ)
We learn early on how to show affection to others, so why pick one individual to appreciate Feb. 14th? (Nathan Paton/AQ)

For years, my brother and I would wake up on February 14 and walk downstairs into our kitchen to find two red, heart shaped boxes and a card for each of us. Our parents made sure we felt loved every day of the year but receiving those gifts on Valentines Day became normal for us. It made it clear to me Valentines Day was about showing love- for everyone.

Then I grew up, moved away and realized I was one of very few who felt that way.

The idea behind Valentines Day has in many ways been lost. There are constant reminders Valentines Day is approaching and it now brings with it a pressure to find someone and quickly confess your undying love for him or her.

“The day doesn’t have to be attached to ‘I love you’, there are lots of ways to celebrate a relationship of any kind,” said Rosemary Whitlock, counselor at the University of New Brunswick.

“You can love certain things about a person,” said Whitlock.

I spoke with couples about their experience with Valentines Day, to see if the simple act of showing love has gone missing completely and if the pressure to find love has become all too familiar.

Courtney Hanson is 19 and has been with her boyfriend for three years. She believes showing love shouldn’t happen because it’s “the day” to show it, but rather every day, if you choose to.

“It’s not about the cards and the flowers and the chocolates or teddy bears that sing a song, they may be lovely gestures but I think the idea of the day should be focused more on spending time with your loved ones, whether its your boyfriend, wife, sister, brother, mom, grandma, or even your best friend.”

“Last year we didn’t [celebrate] and this year we may not either. Not because we don’t love each other but because we don’t need a set day of the year to celebrate our love we can celebrate it everyday of the year if we want to,” said Hanson.

Elmer Morales is 23 and has been with his girlfriend for “321 days”, and he says he will be celebrating with her but understands that not everyone needs to be in a relationship to show affection.

“Valentines Day is a day to appreciate the ones you love, it’s not necessarily just for people who are in a romantic relationship.”

“Perhaps it [love] has lost meaning for some people, but not all,” said Whitlock.

We all remember elementary school; you’d decorate your envelope with glitter pens and stickers and tape it to the front of your desk. Then when Valentines Day came you and your friends distributed your Scooby doo and Ariel cards to all your classmates.

As ten year olds we displayed the most basic act of caring and compassion. We didn’t have money or stress, but we knew what it felt like to be loved.

It didn’t mean you were in a relationship with those people, but you showed them that you knew how to celebrate one another.

I understand, not everyone grows up in a loving family. I also know not everyone experienced the embarrassment of putting a card in a boy or girl’s envelope in front of the entire class.

But the simple idea behind Valentines Day shouldn’t be a pressure to show your love for your boyfriend or girlfriend with gifts and date to an expensive restaurant, it also shouldn’t be an excuse to go out and blindly find love either.

“What love means to one person, doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to another,” said Whitlock.

I don’t believe celebrating love and kindness towards people is entirely lost; rather it has become hidden beneath everything else we surround ourselves with on that day.

“It boils down to the commercial and the individual, we all love to be in love,” said Whitlock.

For 54 years, my grandparents have been celebrating Valentines Day. They have become masters of the simplicity of the day, showing love by being together and caring for one another and showing that same care for their family- Valentines Day or not.

When I asked my grandmother if she remembered her first Valentines Day with my grandfather, she laughed and said “of course.”

“We did not have much money, he asked me to be his girl, only he said his baby, I only gave him a card and it was a very special Valentines Day. I was full of butterflies in my belly.”

She was 17 then, and their acts of simple kindness only prove to me V day isn’t supposed to be stressful, expensive, or restricted to romantic relationships. It’s for everyone who wishes to take part.

“There’s nothing stopping you from celebrating a relationship, romantic or not,” said Whitlock.

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