Valentine’s Day: On Falling In Love

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Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

Valentine’s Day finds its genesis in antiquity, originating around 500AD in the Roman era, but grew to prominence during the 15th century, when Chaucer, courtly love, and romantic declarations became popular. Today I would categorize the event as a half-holiday; nothing slows down, but store windows are hurriedly bombarded with red and pink heart emblems, urging individuals to get the people they love a token of appreciation. Whilst arguably another excuse for capitalism, the day nevertheless represents a moment in time when we are forced to think about what love means to us. The noun is defined simply as “an intense feeling of deep affection”. But does this accurately capture the profound experience of being in love? 

How do we feel about love in the modern day?

Falling in love is a process, a long one. Something that takes time, patience, and reflection to latch on. 

It is elusive and yet something we all crave. To love and be loved by another; I think every person on earth has indulged in this daydream. Interstellar (2014) sums up the incomprehensible magnitude of love perfectly: “Love isn’t something we invented. It’s observable. Powerful. It has to mean something. Maybe it means something more, something we can’t yet understand. Maybe it’s some evidence, some artifact of a higher dimension that we can’t consciously perceive.”

I think many young people today, including myself, tend to be, lacking a better description, slightly terrified of love. Today’s dating culture is saturated with messages that reinforce the need for emotionlessness. To be vulnerable is to be weak. Hookup culture and one-night stands are pervasive. But what does this inability, or reluctance, to connect emotionally say about the state of intimate relationships? 

Intimacy in and out of relationships

Psychological studies have repeatedly found that young people today are having less sex, primarily due to decreased levels of curiosity and a declining interest in courting. Social media has fundamentally altered the way people communicate. In the highly comparative, warped online landscape, people feel less satisfied with what they have. Real-life relationships are dulled by the fake dazzle of online interactions, where people can control their image and only share snippets of edited seemingly perfect moments.

But when you step out of this labyrinth and get to know people in the real world, you begin to see that everyone is flawed and, at times, awkward. Dating in my 20s caused me to question what love was. It is completely illogical yet it feels so completely right when you’re caught up in it. It transcends time and space and, when you think about it, it is the only lasting legacy we leave behind. I don’t think anyone can say they’ve regretted a kind thing they’ve done in the name of love.

Choosing to care instead of being scared of love

What has arisen as a counterculture to this impassivity is the trend of “caring”. 

Yes, it seems preposterous when put in words, but the idea of no longer being ‘nonchalant’ is growing in popularity. More people are catching on to the fact that being mature does not equate to not needing anyone. The idea that self-sufficiency and hyper-independence equate to maturity is a myth, an erroneous impersonation of adulthood learned from parents who didn’t know how to show each other they loved one another.

Ultimately, humans are united by a singular shared trait: our need to love and be loved. Without it, we literally die. Yet undeniably, it can be hard to show someone how you feel. It can be terrifying, even. But when you write them that letter, make them that gift, bake them that cake, I anticipate you will feel better for having shown your emotions, not worse for it. I highly doubt any person nearing the end of their life regrets an act of kindness done in the name of love. I know I never would. 

Words by Jade Serna

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