14th of February is finally upon us. The day of love or the day of sappy Hallmark cards but a day that none of us are able to escape from. While I don’t believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day, I do believe in love and the power of love. My definition of love has changed and evolved A LOT over the past decade. From that dreamy, sappy 20-year-old to a practical 30-year-old – my past experiences and previous relationships have evolved how I see love. From needing love for validation to needing love to feel complete to just wanting someone to be able to talk to after a tiring day at work – my love requirements have changed too. While I mulled on these thoughts, I wondered if how we see love changes over time. I also wondered if our experiences with love are different across continents. So I decided to reach out to some of my blogger friends across the globe at different stages of life and at different stages of relationships to help me put the pieces of the puzzle called love together.
I asked each of the bloggers what love meant to them and if they believed in celebrating Valentine’s Day. Here is what they had to say –
The Crazy Teen Years
I reached out to Samrakshni an 18-year-old from India who is single and identifies as aromantic. Sam’s definition of love is – “Love is an elixir that keeps us all going. Love gives us a reason to live when we’ve run out of things to live for.”
But does she believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day? “Not at all. Valentine’s Day is more of a business strategy devised by clever businessmen to stay on top of their game and make profits from this season. It might be a day of celebration to some but also is a day of regrets, loneliness, and low self-esteem to many. To me, it is a day like any other. The only significance the day holds for me is that it is my best friend’s birthday on that date.”
The Fun Twenties
I reached out to 4 of my blogger friends – Lebogang, Pooja, Wonani, and Shahrin to help me navigate love through the fun 20s.
Lebogang is my dear friend from South Africa who has been in a relationship for the past two years. She defines love as – “I am a ‘sucker’ for love. I have an eye for love, and I see it everywhere. I do not allow myself to miss out on an opportunity to see love in the small details. Growing up, I prayed to God to give me the heart to love people. I desired to love and treat everyone the same. One thing I realized is that, you cannot give from an empty vessel. I began to love people so that they could love me back. But you know when you go the extra mile to do something for someone who might never return the favor to you? That is true love for me.“
But does she believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day? “I certainly do not make a fuss around Valentine’s day. I have never celebrated it, but one thing I know is that February is the month of Love. I simply make sure I spread some love to people and shower them with smiles and good vibes. As for celebrating the actual day – No!! For me, it is just another normal day to be appreciative of the borrowed breath and to be with loved ones.”
Pooja needs no introduction in the blogosphere. She is from Kenya and is currently single. She defines love as – “Over time, I have learnt that love is finding someone you can share the good and the bad moments with. It’s easy to love someone when times are good but if you truly love someone you will stick by them even when it gets tough. I also think love is finding someone who makes you happy, respects you and wants to be with you. “
But does she believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day? “Personally, I’m not huge on Valentine’s Day. I think it can be fun and cute if you have a partner to celebrate with but I don’t think it’s something I always necessarily celebrate.”
My lovely friend, Wonani, is from Zambia and has been in a relationship for the past 2 years. She defines love as – “Love to me means knowing I have someone I can trust and be vulnerable with. Love means allowing another person to see parts of me I don’t like to show; the not so beautiful parts and the not so strong parts. Love means being available for someone, being patient with them, accepting their flaws and helping them be the best version of themselves without trying to selfishly change them. Love means I can be myself. Love means safety. “
But does she believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day? “If you asked me this 2 years ago, I would have said Valentine’s doesn’t make me feel much but I enjoy seeing people’s “declarations of love” simply because I love love. That’s probably because I was single then. But now Valentine’s day makes me feel excited because again, I get to see people do all sorts of crazy gestures as demonstrations of love. It also makes me excited because I get to do something for my partner, which I can do every day but everyday isn’t Valentine’s. I just love love. I’ve never done anything special on Valentine’s day because I have been single in the past or not in the same city as my partner but I may do something special this year.”
Flying across to the UK we meet my cute friend, Shahrin, who is currently single. She defines love as – “I have never been in love so I am not sure what it actually means to me. But I do know this: when it happens it has to be easy. Not exactly magical as movies try to portray but just right enough for me to know this is it. The butterflies, nervous school girl excitement and overall feeling GOOD. While pondering upon your question I realised for me love means being happy!”
But does she believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day? “Valentine’s Day is just another day for me, although this year I am thinking of buying myself some flowers.“
The Lovely 30s
I am super lucky to be sharing this segment with the amazing Bosssybabe.
Jen is from Canada and has been with her husband for 9 years now. She is also a mother to a beautiful preschooler. She defines love as – “When people say the word “love,” I don’t automatically think about it in a romantic sense. I was that single gal in every friend group for about 10 years (always the single one who was either a 3rd wheel or brought her sister/bff to the wedding/event, etc). I had my first serious relationship between ages 17 and 20 (that obviously didn’t work out), then I was single for a good decade before I met my husband. In that decade, I dated lots of guys (never exclusively) but none of them really lasted longer than a season (if that)! When I was single, the thing that always struck me and made me feel down was thinking “why can’t a guy ever stick around long enough for me to finish a book or for the season to change.” It seems like such a small thing, but when you’re single (at least for me), I found that “time” was more obvious. I was always hyper aware of the seasons changing and still being single. I did make the most of my single life but I still longed for that person to share my life with. So, yes, when I think of the word “love,” I think of it in its purest form: giving and receiving love to those you care for; the most genuine act of kindness.“
But does she believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day? “For my husband and I, it really is just another day. We don’t celebrate many “Hallmark” holidays like Valentines Day or Mothers/Fathers Day. I just made a point to celebrate the “firsts” and then thereafter, it was always just another day. I think for us moving forward (now with a preschooler who is active, and becoming more aware and understanding of societal, Western ‘traditions’), we might make a point of doing something special with her every February 14 to celebrate “LOVE” in a general sense.”
My definition of love has changed many times over the past decade of failed relationships and dates. I am currently single. While I can’t exactly define love let me try to explain it with a Harry Potter reference. When I think of love I think of how Lily’s sacrifice (and in turn love) for Harry lives on (in his body) and protects him even after she is gone. I think of how Molly Weasely takes in Harry and loves him as one of her own children. I think of how Snape protects Harry despite his love remaining unrequited. (trying not to give away spoilers) I think of Ron and Hermione abandoning everything to go on a goose chase with Harry. I think of Fred and George and their unshakable brotherhood. I think of Voldemort and his love of immortality. I think of Sirius and his love for his friends. Love takes so many forms and is manifested all around us. Love is what gives us a reason to live and want to wake up every morning. And as much as it is amazing to love others, it is also equally important to love ourselves.
Do I believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day? I’ve spent some Valentine’s days with single friends, crying over being single. I’ve spent some Valentine’s days in a relationship with a partner, crying over how they didn’t meet my expectations (and also spending excessive amounts of money on gifts and a celebration). And now, I just celebrate love every day instead of waiting for a Hallmark holiday to come around ONCE in a year.
The Fabulous 40s
Two of my favourite bloggers, Lani & Libby have partaken to share their thoughts on love.
My first blogger friend, Lani, is from Hawaii but is currently based out of Thailand. She has been with her husband for 8-9 years. She defines love as – “Romantic love involves work, and that’s something people don’t talk about. It’s Hollywood-ized as something burning and beautiful, and while it usually is at the beginning, your relationship evolves, changes, goes through phases. From my own experience as well as those of my friends, I believe that the first year of living with someone can be really tough. Sometimes I wonder if folks give up too easily because they think it’s supposed to be effortless or a particular way. But it depends greatly on the couple too. Overall though, I think being in a relationship can be harder than being single.“
But does she believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day? “When I was younger, I felt obligated to do something. Maybe it was societal pressure, but as a teacher, it’s something to be celebrated for the students. My husband (he’s an artist) usually draws something for me and I love that personal touch. I don’t need him to spend money and it’s not my style. Obviously, right? As I don’t even know when we got married!”
My goddess friend, Libby, is from the US and has just gotten out of a long relationship. She defines love as – “Love means a few things to me, and is such a difficult thing to contain in word form. In one way, I see love as a force. A force that can change lives, heal, open, expand, and baffle. Love makes people do things they wouldn’t normally do otherwise. And I don’t mean infatuation, like making you lose yourself over a person who doesn’t give a shit about you. I mean true love, that can inspire or challenge you to change or heal parts of yourself for the better. And finally, for me, love means to find peace, joy, and comfort in the closeness of someone.“
But does she believe in celebrating Valentine’s Day? “I have historically loved Valentine’s Day because I am a sappy romantic, through and through. Also, for Valentine’s Day, when I was young, my father used to buy my sister and me, cute little gifts and candy and surprise us on Valentine’s Day morning, kind of like Christmas. I have typically enjoyed Valentine’s Day far more when I was single. Because when you actually have a Valentine, there are so many expectations, and they are very difficult to keep at bay. Since I’m fresh out of a breakup, I don’t think I will go too crazy this year. But, I will 100% buy myself a box of my favourite drugstore chocolates, and I plan to really enjoy eating every single morsel. I believe I deserve some love and comfort during this difficult time in my life, and chocolate always delivers on its promise!”
I honestly loved reading everyone’s answers. I love how across continents, across ages we all love LOVE. I apologize for the lack of gender diversity in this post. I need to work on making more blogging friends from other genders.
Whether you are single or in a relationship, whether you believe in celebrating this day or you don’t, I hope you have an amazing day. I LOVE YOU ALL!
PS: I forgot to ask everyone to send in their photos so I’ve just picked random photos that describe different kinds of love – self-love, romantic love, parenthood, and friendship!
Spread some love today and give my other recent posts a read –