With February being a few days away, romantics all over the world are overwhelmed by a strange, jittery feeling. For some, this feeling represents excitement for the upcoming month of love and romance. For others, it’s a feeling of slight nervousness because of the pressure to plan perfect dates and gifts for their partners. And then, there’s a third side to this feeling. The feeling of pressure and slight sadness over the fact that this is yet another February they’re spending without a partner. Whether it’s excitement, anxiety or stress, it all comes down to a single month, or to be more precise, to a single day – Valentine’s Day, posing the inevitable question – is February the only month of love and romance in modern relationships?
The consumerism of Valentine’s Day
The modern-day romance for Valentine’s Day has been stripped of spontaneity and appreciation and brought down to pure, mass materialism and obligation. Couples movie-perfect dates to impress their partners and ideal gifts that will show them how much they love them on that specific day. The romantics see it as the ultimate day of romance while the rational see through its masked materialism. Nonetheless, the trend of Valentine’s Day continues to enjoy its popularity, putting pressure on both singles and couples. Those who are without dates for Valentine’s Day keep obsessing about finding it, while those with dates keep obsessing about material gifts and perfect dates. And once the big day of romance passes by, everything goes back to normal, to its established routines. So, what is it about modern-day love or people’s concept of love that makes it so mainstream and occasion-specific? How come entire relationships of appreciation, romance, tenderness and passion have been brought down to a single day when sparks are expected to fire up and love to come to its full force?
Unrealistically optimistic expectations
Couples, especially those who’ve just discovered the charms and excitements of love and sexuality, are often blinded by unrealistic expectations. At that stage we believe that our love is special, that we will be in love forever and ever, spending our days holding hands with our partners without a single worry on our mind. Of course, some of the lucky ones do experience love of such kind, the mythical one that exists outside time and space, connecting two beings into one. The others, however, are in love with the idea that romance and passion will last forever, requiring no effort. No need to work on relationships, no need to maintain passion. Everything will fall into its place, ensuring their happy endings. Eventually, when we do realize that being crazy in love and sexual attraction are beginning to fade, we use that single day to remind ourselves of what we used to have, perhaps hoping that this specific occasion will rekindle the old sparks and awaken the passion in our relationships.
Mature love to the rescue
Once the dust has settled and passion has ebbed away, we are left with the cultural idea that mature love, the one of companionship and respect, will help us maintain our relationships. Of course, as time passes, love may take slightly different forms, but at its very core, it’s still passionate, tender, caring and grandiose. By completely forgetting these other aspects of love, we embrace mature love, shutting the door to romance and passion. Our belief that such intensely passionate times are behind us and that now we should surrender to mature love sometimes leads to disappointment and dissatisfaction, bringing couples further apart. “I love you” and gestures of appreciation become reserved for special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day or birthdays and anniversaries, when we feel under pressure to make everything perfect.
From mutuality to intimacy
The modern concept of mutuality lies at the very foundation of modern-day intimacy. To achieve intimacy with another person, we need to meet our partner’s needs and in return, they will meet ours. This, of course, requires opening up to another person, expressing and sharing our needs and expecting from them to do the same. Failing to meet, recognize and understand those needs puts us under a lot of pressure and within a strict framework of what we can or cannot do in a relationship. Finding a way to fit into the society’s expected framework of love and commitment means that we’ve managed to attain the contemporary idea of love. So, modern intimacy has been reduced to the needs and pleasures our partner is expected to meet. If they or we cannot, we are led to believe that we’ve failed to attain our happy ending. You either do the unspeakable and find another person who can meet those needs or wait for mature love to come to the rescue.
The fight for passion and romance
Even the most passionate and romantic of loves has its challenges. Fighting for passion, tenderness and attraction should never stop. We shouldn’t limit our moments of intimacy to a single day, but should instead try to maintain intimacy through communication and appreciation every single day. However, this often entails getting to know and loving yourself first. If you’re experiencing any problems or challenges in your relationship, don’t just hope that everything will work out on its own. Write down and gain a deeper insight into your fears, hopes and dreams, follow your growth and development through personal diaries and get in touch with your inner self. By learning more about and accepting yourself, you’ll be able to truly connect with another person. Finally, don’t be afraid to want a change, especially if your partner isn’t “the one”.
Valentine’s Day is just another day, another opportunity for love, romance and passion. It’s not the only day nor the most important day, so don’t wait for it to celebrate your love.
Isabel is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.
Featured image via Unsplash