You walk into your local grocery store, card shop, or party outlet and there it is: the red, the pink, the hearts, the kisses; the fuzzy animals and heart-shaped boxes. It's Valentine's day.
How to Stop Hating Valentine's Day
For many, this is just another silly and cute excuse to profess their love and devotion to their significant other. Millions of people will fill out sappy cards and think of the loveliest way to tell their darlings that their love is unending and boundless. While a majority of these professions will go unfulfilled in the long term, it doesn’t stop many of us from making them every February with a sense of hope and anticipation that this time, just maybe, things will be different.
But mixed in with the crowd of the lovers and hopeless romantics are the “others,” those who despise or rebuke this Hallmark holiday and who try to avoid it at all costs. They might verbally share their disgust or quietly slip away from the cheer and revelry but either way, they don’t like it and won’t buy into it.
If you are one of these self-professed anti-V-Day comrades I get it, I really do.
I am divorced, my heart has been broken a dozen times before and I no longer like being reminded of how hopeful I have felt at times, only to have those dreams dashed.
Despite this, I have made a conscious decision NOT to hate the holiday of love. Instead, I have reclaimed it.
In 2009, Nia Vardalos made (a pretty awful) movie called "I Hate Valentines." Almost every sitcom has an episode that discusses at least one character’s disdain for the day. Hating Valentine’s day has become a cultural norm, one that coexists uncomfortably with the simultaneous pressure to blow your lover’s mind with affection. It reminds me of how many people tell me Christmas is their favorite holiday and also the worst time of the year, a time when the stress and pressure are crushing and demoralizing.
How to Stop Hating Valentine's Day
We love the things we hate and hate the things we love; we are creatures of contradiction. Still, I believe that when it comes to this cheesy holiday, there is a third choice between love and hate that can bring a greater sense of purpose and meaning to all of our lives, both on February 14th and outside of it. So, here are my top three suggestions if you hate V-day.
There is no reason to force the term "love" to fit only into a romantic/sexual context. We love so many people and things that love us back and fill our lives with joy, why not acknowledge this on February 14th? The Greeks defined eight - yes, EIGHT - forms of love. There is Eros, the kind of love that Valentine's day traditionally focuses on. But remember, that is only one form love. We can have Philia, or friend love; Pragma, which is a wise and long-lasting love; Philautia, or self-love; and Agape, the love of the divine and universal. When we say that we want to celebrate a day of love, why not expand on what that means to include many of these forms?
Appreciate All the Love in Your Life
Now that we have explained some of the varieties of love that we can experience, let’s discuss who we could include in our Valentine’s day celebrations. Why not spend the day with friends who make your life worth living? Some women have taken this up with the concept of “Galentines” but this does not have be gendered. In fact, adding people of all genders to your gathering will make it all the richer. Think about family members that mean the world to you. Take your cousin out for a drink or bring grandpa a box of chocolates instead of wishing your romantic life was different than it is.
Outside of individual people, what about getting involved in a cause or mission that you adore? Every year, "The Vagina Monologues" is produced on or right around February 14th. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to ending violence again women and girls and productions of the show can be found all over the planet.
Before we reach out to anyone one else, let us first look within ourselves. We cannot give love to anyone else if we don’t have a reservoir of respect of our own. Self-love is often the hardest and most important form of love that we can experience. Why not take yourself out this Valentine’s day? Buy yourself chocolates and a massage, write yourself a love poem, and make time to refill your love tank?
Dr. Laura McGuire (they/them or she/her) is an internationally recognized consultant, survivor, researcher, seminarian, and author of the book Creating Cultures of Consent (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021).
Dr. McGuire is a certified full-spectrum doula, professional teacher, a certified sexual health educator, and a vinyasa yoga instructor. Their experience includes both public and private sectors, middle schools, high schools, and university settings.
They currently are earning their Masters of Divinity at Earlham Seminary where they are studying the intersections of Judaism, trauma-informed care, and restorative-justice in faith settings. Dr. McGuire lives in the United States, where they work as an adjunct professor at Widener University and consultant at The National Center for Equity and Agency.