Let’s Talk About Love

How to reclaim—and maybe even love—Valentine’s Day.

Posted Feb 11, 2020

Anna Akbari
Source: Anna Akbari

People love to hate Valentine's Day. I get it—the over-the-top, cheesy, forced displays of affection, the unnecessary pressure on couples (and singles), not to mention all the cringe-worthy trinkets that line drugstores throughout the country.

I'm not gonna lie: This heart-shaped box of chocolates that crooned a velvety serenade of "Can't Help Falling In Love" every time I opened it made me extremely happy when I received it. But Elvis goodies aside, there's a lot to hate about the commercial version of the holiday. 

Maybe it's time to rethink this candy-coated vitriol, however. Most of us don't categorically hate affection or love or relationships. We just hate the way those things are sold and mandated on this day. 

So let's make Valentine's Day less about an artificial Hallmark holiday and instead embrace love in our lives and let those we love know how much we care. 

Feeling warm and fuzzy yet?

Here's a fun fact to get you in the mood: I was conceived on Valentine's Day. (TMI, Mom!) And because my mom always wanted me to know I was a product of love, she started a tradition where she sends me flowers and a beautiful note on Valentine's Day. The ritual no longer surprises me, but it always delights. For me, Valentine's Day now has a different significance. 

Even if you weren't conceived on Valentine's Day (your call if you want to ask your parents what they were up to that day…), it can become a celebration of love for all of us.

Another frequent anti-V-Day dismissal: "Pffft, I don't need an artificial, consumer-driven holiday to celebrate my love for someone. I can do that any day of the year." True that! But do you?

If the answer is yes, why not add one more? If the answer is no... might I interest you in Valentine's Day? And if you just hate being told what to do and when to do it (I get it), then pick another day to express your love to those in your life in a more pointed way than usual and actually stick to it. 

Ritualistically and emphatically expressing love keeps us from taking people in our lives for granted. Waking up to no one to reach out to on Valentine's Day is even more painful than a stroll through the Walgreens greeting card aisle in February.

Anna Akbari
Source: Anna Akbari

So while you may roll your eyes at the candy hearts and teddy bears for adults (why?), I hope you won't shrug off love. Even if the expression of it sometimes (often) is corny and contrived, I, for one, could use more corniness in my life.

Love is corny. It's over-the-top, irrational, silly, and well-worth the complicated messiness that accompanies it.  

If you don't want to buy flowers or candy, then don't. If you don't want to go to an overpriced prix-fixe dinner, then don't. Do it your way. But challenge yourself to reject the old "I hate Valentine's Day" mantra by instead making a point of celebrating all the love in your life. 

Big note: Your romantic relationship status is irrelevant! Take that entirely out of the equation. We all have people we love and who love us. It's not always the ones we want, and they don't always express it in our preferred ways, but the love is there, nonetheless. And that's celebration-worthy.

As my final appeal, just think of all the free drugs that will flood your system as a result of these efforts. Dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin—it's a powerful cocktail on offer, folks!

Anna Akbari
Source: Anna Akbari

Let's make this Valentine's Day (and, if you're game, every Valentine's Day) a celebration of love. What's the worst that could happen?

Maybe someone in your life—perhaps your partner or a close friend—will try to sour you to it. But hold strong, and tell them this year you're going all-in on love for the day, then give them a big hug (and maybe a singing box of Elvis chocolates). You might be surprised by their response.

I challenge anyone to Grinch their way through that type of infectious joy. That's the thing about love: It's easy to get down on it when you feel its absence, but once it embraces you, it's impossible to resist. Corniness, be damned.