Love — such a complex and mysterious subject. Scientists, artists, poets, singers, philosophers, and even saints have struggled to define it. It’s so instinctual, babies and animals express it from the time they’re little. Yet, as we grow older, we find it harder and harder to define what love means to us. We turn to movies, TV, and books to tell us what to expect, and how to behave. Unfortunately, the plots revolve around romantic love, and we know those aren’t realistic. After all, romance isn’t the only kind of amour there is. The Greeks named not one or two, but four different types of love — agápe, éros, philia, and storge — covering charitable or religious, romantic, platonic, and familial love. It would be safe to say that a holiday about love should celebrate all of these, yes?
As Valentine’s Day approaches, we’ve decided to help you — whether you’re single or not — by showing you all the different ways you can love those around you. And yourself, of course. Love isn’t and shouldn’t be limited to a single day; the process is lifelong, and making time for the important things will see you through the season of love and every season beyond it.
Love Your Hobbies
You know how this story goes. You discover something you love — a book, an art project, a cooking technique — and you throw yourself into it, only to lose steam a little later. Because of work. Or chores. Or a significant other. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show a little love towards your neglected paintbrushes, or the bicycle languishing in the corner. Take time off to do things you enjoy — even if that thing is just spending all day organizing your books. Nothing refreshes you and makes you feel more like yourself than using your latent talents. There’s a reason you started the hobby in the first place, isn’t there?
Pro Tip: Once you rekindle your love for whatever hobby it is, pencil in some time every week to get back to it. Having something enjoyable to look forward to will make every week that much better.
Love Your Tribe
Whose shoulder do you cry on when your heart is broken? Who do you turn to when you feel ugly and want to be reminded you’re beautiful? Which of your friends has known you the longest, and seen you through more drama than you can remember? Spend this day — or this whole month — catching up with old friends, taking your grandparents out for a meal, spending time with your pets, or even scheduling some alone time with your siblings. Tell them what they mean to you, and how grateful you are to have them in your life. No matter what your relationship status is, your people will stand by you and keep you strong. Show them you cherish that, and you’ll never be lonely.
Pro Tip: Okay, work can be hectic, but make time to meet your friends. Treat a catch-up like a date — pick a special coffee shop, set up a time, dress up, bring a small gift — so that you devote an evening just to your pal. Nothing will endear you more to them. Bonus: You end up being the best bestie!
Love Yo’ Damn Self
Ok, this is important — probably the most important. You’ve heard all the clichés, so we don’t need to tell you why you deserve to do things for yourself. The older and busier you get, the harder and less important it becomes to carve time out for you. While cleaning up your house or catching up on your never-ending to-do list might seem like alone time — simply because you do it by yourself — that’s not who you are. Use this Valentine’s Day to pamper yourself. Treat yourself to a spa day, or indulge in some retail therapy. If capitalism doesn’t work for you, spend the day in bed with your favorite TV characters, or just take a quick day trip to an amusement park. More than anything, don’t be afraid to do typically “couple” things by yourself — take yourself out for a movie or a three-course dinner, whatever makes you happy. So go ahead — eat cake for breakfast, buy yourself an obscenely large bunch of flowers, drive far away and crank up the tunes; do anything that makes your heart sing!
Pro Tip: So you’ve taken time off and pampered yourself — what happens when you get sucked into the grind again? Discover a calming ritual you can engage in for a few minutes every day. Whether it’s a couple of extra seconds in the shower, an extra dollop of cheese on your toast, or your favorite wake-up playlist, add something to your day that’s all yours. You could even try meditation, if you truly want quiet time. It doesn’t matter what you choose — make yourself a priority every day.
Valentine’s Day can be a depressing time. If you’re single, you tend to wonder whether you’ll ever find “the one”. If you’re in a relationship, you might compare things other couples do to your relationship and think you’re not as “in love” as they are. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s just a day like any other. It’s time to flip the script and make this day about love. Of all kinds.