As I have gotten older and a bit more jaded, I have come to view Valentine’s Day as a terrible sham.
Full disclosure: I have the luxury of looking down my nose at a day devoted to the concept of romance and finding true love because I have been in a long-term, committed relationship for over 30 years.
But, to me, the idea of a single holiday to celebrate the pursuit of everlasting love that will change your life seems to hold nothing but false promise and a set up for disappointment.
Believe me, I have been there, even if it was a long time ago. As a teenager, Valentine’s Day represented my desperate hope of finding my other half, the “one” who would complete me, understand me, and love me for who I was.
As a young, attached adult, there were over-the-top gifts and an unspoken competition with my female peers as to who received the most extravagant and overpriced floral arrangement from their boyfriends (by the way, the roses were dead in two days).
Even in the first few years of married life, we bought into the idea of going out for a fancy, expensive romantic dinner and traditional gifts of flowers and candy.
Until one year, we didn’t. No, we didn’t fall out of love.
Yes, we stopped celebrating Valentine’s Day. Why?
Love is not expressed in a one-day celebration filled with romance and gifts.
I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because it embodies everything I have come to believe is the opposite of what real love is.
I will tell you what I believe true love is.
True love is your significant other knowing your greatest fears and weaknesses and supporting you through the agonizing work of conquering them.
True love is your significant other finding out your eating disorder is out of control and forcing you to go to therapy.
True love is your significant other holding your hand and wiping your tears after another miscarriage.
True love is finding out you have cancer and knowing that no matter the outcome, they are there for you during surgery and the grueling treatment that follows.
True love is your significant other telling you every day that you are the love of their life and that they can’t imagine their life without you.
True love is when you lose your job, and your significant other relentlessly supports your journey into a new career.
True love is when your significant other cooks for you, randomly surprises you with your favorite treats, and lets you steal food off their plate.
True love is when you look forward to long car rides together, where there are no interruptions and the outside world cannot intrude.
True love is the heartfelt little kisses and soul-soothing hugs—each and every day—and the realization that there is no one else you would rather wake up next to (even if their snoring kept you up all night).
True love is working through the stretches of days when you barely have time to give each other your full attention because, well…work and family and other obligations.
True love is the comfort of knowing that at the end of each day, there is a person who adores you, wants you, supports you—no matter what life has thrown at you.
True love is growing old together.
In my opinion, no one day can embody all that. Love is the hard work of building a life—day by day, year by year—together.
Every day should be Valentine’s Day.