Valentine’s Day and the Beauty of Non-Romantic Love

Cupid’s favorite holiday is once again upon us, and with it comes romantic expectations for some and disappointment for others. If you’re in a relationship, you may be feeling the weight of planning the perfect dinner, getting the perfect gift, or finding the perfect activity in the midst of a snowy pandemic winter. If you’re not, this is a day that can cause feelings of loneliness, isolation, and insecurity. Heteronormativity also runs rampant on Februrary 14th, and people who don’t experience straight, cisgender romantic relationships may struggle to determine what this day means to them. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Valentine’s Day unfortunately tends to coincide with an uptick in rates of self-harm. So this Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to celebrate all kinds of love in your life, especially if you happen to be flying solo.

If you are in a relationship, by all means take this day to show your partner how much they mean to you. If you aren’t, this day is a great opportunity to celebrate your platonic relationships. The most significant marker of happiness later on in life is not whether or not you have a spouse or children but whether or not you have meaningful, enduring friendships. Having love in your life, platonic or not, makes you less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, or anxiety. Non-romantic love can also increase your levels of oxytocin and dopamine. Platonic relationships have a tendency to include more openness and honesty as well, although of course these things can and should be present in your romantic relationships.

Early adulthood friendships, in particular, tend to hold a special and enduring place in the hearts of many long after graduation. After all, these are the people who loved you before you likely achieved any of the perceived hallmarks of success that add to your social “value” in a capitalist society. Your friends from college or earlier saw value in you before the graduate school, the job, the life partner, the stability, or any other accolades you accumulate after graduation. Personally, the relationships that have brought me the most satisfaction and joy during my time at Notre Dame have been my friendships. As Jane Austen once wrote, “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”

Valentine’s Day is also an opportunity to celebrate self-love. After all, your most enduring relationship is with yourself, and that’s something that should be tended to and celebrated. This semester, like the last one, can be stressful and confusing for many, and caring for oneself is more important than ever. This is a good day to take some time to check in with yourself and make sure that you are keeping tabs on your mental health and well-being.

So this Sunday, bake cupcakes with your roommate. Send a text to your friends from home. If you have family members that uplift and support you, give them a call and let them know you appreciate them. Thank a dining hall or maintenance worker. Take some time for yourself and do something that brings you joy. There are many kinds of love in the world, and they all deserve to be celebrated.

Author

  • Emma Jaques is a senior Aerospace Engineering major from Metuchen, New Jersey. She is the editor of the Science section of the Irish Worker. Emma has worked with SWE and Girls Who Code and is passionate about bringing more diversity to STEM fields. She believes strongly in advocation for the rights and representation of transgender and nonbinary individuals. She also believes in the abolition of prisons and for-profit healthcare. After graduation she will be pursuing a PhD in Aerospace Engineering and hopes to work with environmental aerospace groups to do satellite imaging of rainforest deforestation.

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