In Lieu of the Hallmark Holiday

Humans desiring love is not unusual–we are social creatures. Even anti-socialness seems to stem from a preoccupation with social interraction. What’s quite stupid is the exessive obsession and focus that is placed on heterosexual, romantic love. I can’t articulate if this is a recent phenomenon, but there seems to be indication that it’s not. We seem to have preserved these shitty conceptions of love throughout time: (heterosexual) romantic love over everything. (With exposure to some recent feminist readings that have enriched my life, I am making a conscious, although most likely poor effort to identify heteronormativity, irrespective of the fact that the direct goal of this piece is not necessarily feminism/gender politics.)

In conversations, people refer to having a partner as definitive of or essential to an individual’s being. Granted, high school is chalk full of foolish ideas and conversations, but it was not uncommon for me to hear girls say to each other as a compliment, “you are such a great girl; pretty and funny. I can’t believe you don’t have a boyfriend!”, which even at that time, perplexed the shit out of me. Why? Why can you not believe that this person is great and not in a relationship? Why does this person need a significant other to validate their existence? Is it not sufficient that you believe they’re great? Is it something about another individual’s commitment to this person makes them a safer investment for a relationship for others? And here I thought that these ideas were confined to young, school aged people. Silly me.

Especially in adult interactions, it seems that people are taken more seriously if there’s evidence that other people have made a voluntary commitment to them, because by this age, it has transformed from a social-status-prop to an expectation. Potential friends, coworkers, and even acquaintainces seem to search for possible reasons, predominantly flaws, that may have prevented a person from becoming engaged in a serious romantic matter. I suppose we have come a long way from the times where the majority of men and women inevitably ‘settled down’ in a heterosexual marriage (sometimes regardless of their sexual orientation and of course once again, not even beginning to discuss the exclusion of people who didn’t identify with a gender) and a lot of older people have expressed to me their concerns over finding love in the modern age. One of my coworkers repeatedly attempts to sympathize with me about the difficulty that women must experience in finding dresses and boyfriends these days. He also frequently questions if a professor/lecturer/doctor or something at the U of A with the same last name as me is my husband, and finds it difficult to accept my answer as fact, only to return on a subsequent day to ensure that the status of ‘our’ relationship has not changed (to the five people who will read this, no, I am in fact not married to a U of A professor. Moreover, I’m not married at all, because I’m twenty three years old–merely a baby in terms of experiencing adult life). Either way, it is quite depressing that rather than being pioneers in investing our efforts in people, and enjoying people’s company from our own evaluation, we seek third party validation of their existence.

Though surely, it is the ultimate logical inconsistency to base your perception of people on this fact because of the many fallacies imlicit in the stupid ideology. The biggest one being that tons of absolutely stupid and even shitty people are in relationships, in fact, I would argue, these are the first ones to find companionship. The weak. The sheep.  The ones who are afraid of being by themselves. In fact, it is these very societal ideologies that place pressure on vulnerable, malleable younger people to find companionship out of a sense of urgency, rather than desire, making the likelihood of genuine relationships all the more rare for them. This creates a circular pattern of stupidity. The same ideology that tempts people to look for romantic involvement as indication of normal human functioning, also pushes the people seeking validation to find superficial relationships, creating abnormal human functioning which now serves to prove otherwise.

Worse yet, the people who do invest their energies into another person without the validation of a third party, take it upon themselves to ‘hook this person up’ as a favour. It is considered essential to true friendship to put your friend out of their misery of singledom, to be their wingpersons, to find them a relationship. There are arguments made by these individuals that they just want to see their friends be happy. Well, I spent years in very happy, perhaps more accurately: blissful singledom, but not once did I attempt to say to my coupled friends, “psst, don’t worry. I’ll get you out of it.” or “I know you think you’re happy, but it wasn’t until I became single and learned to spend time with myself, that I realized what happiness truly is.” Although, looking back at it, why the hell not. So I guess scratch that; it won’t be my most solid argument.

All of this of course, is my own superficial evaluation of the situation. The much more important reason that this is problematic is because these ideologies obscure the other sources of love in our life. Preoccupied with this most prevalant conception of love, people struggle to understand what love truly is. We come to neglect the love that has always accompanied us in life, with the most obvious example being, the love from our caregivers. We forget the acts of kindness that we receive from our friends is a form of love and that their companionship is just as valuable as that of a romantic partner. Unless we were prioritizing sex over all else, unless we were to call this a holiday to celebrate sexual, especially heterosexual physical relationships, there is no reason for it to be limited to romantic love. Romantic love is at best, the most mediocre form of love in our lives. It is selfish, contingent many times on our exchange of bodily fluids, ridiculous amounts of time, and an abundant amount of resources. So although, there are already several ideas opposing the existence of Valentine’s Day (e.g. singles awareness day and whatever else), if this were truly a ‘holiday’ for the celebration of love, we must doing it wrong.

 

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