Group of friends stood outside hugging

Why romantic love shouldn’t be the only love we care about

So, you’ve been scrolling on social media to see everyone’s pre-Valentine’s day gifts. You think to yourself ‘Omg that gift was so thoughtful’ or ‘Wow they look like such a sweet couple’ only to turn your phone off in frustration because it’s not you. I think we should have a conversation about decentering the idea of love to only be romantic.

Over the decades the media has consistently fed us the notion that the most important love you will ever receive is love from a romantic partner. From cheesy rom-coms that no doubt will have an airport scene, to a prince coming to rescue the damsel in-distress, we are rarely given the chance to explore that platonic love or familial love are just as fulfilling and exciting.

The thing is love is a commodity. In our capitalist society, it manifests itself on days such as Valentine’s day where you showing appreciation for your partner is equivalent to an exchange of flowers or chocolate and your lack of doing so is a sign of a storm about to brew. If Valentine’s day really was just about celebrating love, why is it always framed in the context of romantic relationships?

I think we should normalise the idea of being in love with everyone that we love. Psychologists say that in a romantic context love is expressions of affection, both physical and emotional, wishing to offer pleasure and satisfaction to another, tenderness, compassion, sensitivity to the needs of the other, a desire for shared activities and pursuits, an appropriate level of sharing of possessions, an ongoing, honest exchange of personal feelings and the process of offering concern, comfort and outward assistance for the loved one’s aspirations. Personally, all these attributes are in the friendships that I have.

In actuality, a lot of people’s most consistent, unconditional, and gratifying love has never come from a romantic partner. It comes from your friend giving you £40 because you were too skint to buy groceries or your dad buying five more bags of x brand of oranges because you told him they were your favourite. It’s your grandmother, making sure all your favourite foods are prepared upon your visit and your mom gifting you that makeup item you were eyeing but could not afford.

Often times people fall into toxic romantic relationships because we confused love with personal emotional fulfilment. Your romantic partner is not there to save you from your issues, just like all the other loves in your life they are there to help you through your life’s journey. Normalising the idea of being in love with the ones we love then frames love as something we remain intentional about it does not just ‘happen’ to us, therefore, we aren’t waiting for one specific love to change our life, we know that the love we already have is doing so.