We come across one of my least favorite holidays, Valentine’s Day.
What’s that you say? Surely a woman who writes about love, sexuality, and relationships would love this day! But no! I find it fraught with anxiety both for singles and couples, tinged with memories of unrequited crushes (many), high school dance invitations gone awry (many), the need for validation of our sexuality, all mixed up with terrible ads for tacky-ass jewelry companies (which that promise men hot sexytimes if they fork over the tacky-ass jewelry. Ick.), prix fixe menus at overpriced restaurants designed to give you heartburn just as you attempt the sexytimes with your loved one.
We all want connection I think. Love. Intimacy. And Valentine’s Day is one of those days where no one really feels like they get it right, not unless you manage to pull off an engagement and a wedding on the same day with hearts and doves and so forth.
I mean who hates being that person in the office that doesn’t get flowers (or that gal in high school who didn’t ever get a Val-o-Gram, ugh!) even when you don’t really like the idea of wasting money on things that will die and lose petals. Or trying to figure out sitters on THAT NIGHT so that you can go out and spend money celebrating things you could celebrate any day, any time. Or seeing couples around you when you are single?
I always dread it both because I dislike the pressure of it all, but also because I can’t help wanting to give in to the narrative of it. I think our narrative in the ads around VDay is mostly about “winning.” Getting the girl/boy, getting the ring/flowers/display of gifts, getting the validation of not being alone.
But what about actual love? What about love is it that we crave in all of this? Love brings up all kinds of even trickier questions.
Love as Longing? This is a great song about longing unfulfilled throughout a life.
Love as The Drug of Desire? Here’s a remarkable talk about the hormonal cocktail of love (not sex) that affects us so tremendously, obsessively, powerfully. We all think perhaps our “love” is special beyond words, but perhaps its just dopamine.
Love as Commitment and Growth? Here is another, perhaps more determined view on shared experiences occurring out of random chance, by a favorite comic/singer of mine.
It’s pretty much my favorite, though it casts me as a Pragmatist rather than a Romantic. Odd, cause I have pretty intense romantic feelings about loyalty, trust and commitment. And because I know that so much of Romance is tied up in the addictive chemical cocktail of the aforementioned video which leads us back to the first video. So complicated.
Makes me wonder what it is we crave so much? Perhaps it’s all about the drive of reproduction, but I think if it was just about that our bodies would have developed differently over time. Less dopamine and more immediate orgasmic response on the part of the female. Perhaps a longer gestation period with a more functional human not requiring so much bonding and care. Humans have evolved in pairs and groups.
We need each other and by damn if we don’t try to figure out ways around it, but we are not islands, humans.
In any regard, I don’t much like Valentine’s Day out of principle. I say, celebrate love and the love you feel for people randomly and without expectation. Surprise people with little drive-by moments of joy. Accept gifts from people that you may not recognize as romantic, but may be gifts just the same. Buy everyone candy hearts and flowers, or read your favorite poem to a stranger on the bus.
Let your love be in minute actions. Let your desire roll and twirl in the circular unity of pragmatism and romance. Allow for both trust and solidity, but also the euphoria of pleasure and dissolved ego boundaries. We need both, it’s clear, and both feed our souls and connect our bodies.
Just don’t buy that crap hack diamond jewelry. There are kids in those diamond mines and that’s just not cool at all.
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