“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
― Lao Tzu

Today is all about love and romance. Although, as side note, it is strange that we choose a day dedicated to a Christian martyr to celebrate love, but, anyway…

Even I, with my over-developed logic circuitry, and not very romantic nature, do realize the importance of romance, and chocolate, in keeping a healthy marriage. But to be totally honest, this year especially, it’s too cold to think about venturing outside, and so there’s chocolate, Netflix, and our daughter’s homemade gluten-free pizza (& cake) to celebrate with. And tomorrow is a holiday, so I even get an extra day to get through may weekend errands. It’s all good.

However, there is so much more to to ‘love’ than romance. Love is complex, and comes in many forms (but we’ll skip tennis). On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate the popular variant of romance and sexual attraction. Around the 20th of each month, I and many other bloggers celebrate the farther-reaching love that underpins compassion. We love our families – our parents, our children, our siblings. We love our pets. We love places, and things, that we feel passionate about, or somehow drawn to.

The ancient Greeks defined four types of love – they pretty much nailed it, although there are certainly variants that make the list larger:

  • Agape – what we all wish for as humans – the ability to love our fellow humans, warts and all, ‘like’ is unnecessary, and it is from this view that compassion springs forth.
  • Eros – this is pretty much what Valentine’s Day is all about. When feel fall in love, especially at the start, and our love for our partner dominates pretty much all other emotions.
  • Philia – ‘brotherly love’ is what characterizes our larger social circle. Not romantic, not quite ‘best friends, but ‘like’ is a prerequisite.
  • Storge – this is how we feel about our families and our closest friends.

Courtesy of card manufacturers, we do have days set aside to celebrate Friendship Day, and of course Mothers, Fathers, and Grandparents. Siblings get lost there, as do children – but perhaps birthdays fill in there? Or perhaps there is a Siblings Day that I missed? I’m a bit cynical, but to be totally honest Valentines Day has a few drawbacks – particularly for people who are not in a relationship – or who may be mourning the recent loss of a loved one. This day is so highly couple focused that it’s not hard to imagine why some people end up feeling inadequate, and depressed. And wow, is this a wonderful holiday for business – flowers, chocolate, dining out, lingerie, jewelry. According to the National Retail Federation, sales projections for this year are just shy of 20 billion US dollars. So, a little bit of romance may be important to a healthy relationship, but perhaps, as with other excuses for spending money, we’ve gone a bit overboard? Surely there’s more to romance than conspicuous consumption? To borrow a quote from Nietzsche, romance is not the most important thing in a relationship. “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

Image from the US Standard Design Team webpage (yes – it’s a real government thing) https://18f.gsa.gov/2016/02/12/happy-valentines-day-from-18F/