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All you need is love

even when it’s not Valentine’s Day

By Brittni Henderson

If you Google the word “love,” one definition is: “an intense feeling of deep affection.” If you click on images, you’ll find hearts, hands holding, or even hands coming together to form a heart shape. The meaning of love can be generally described or depicted in these ways, but what love is to one person may be completely different for another. Love can come in an infinite number of definitions, shapes, or feelings.

The same thing can be said about the sometimes-controversial holiday called Valentine’s Day. Some view it as a special day to spend with a spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, or significant partner, while others see it as a pointless day where people spend money on useless and unnecessary material objects. Who needs a day to express love to a special person, some may ask? Others see Valentine’s Day is a day to show a little extra affection, on top of the appreciation they hold for those people every day of the year.

It’s interesting to hear these varying opinions, but even much so when one observes the difference between male and female thoughts on the day. Four sets of romantic partners spoke to The Smithfield Times to describe what Valentine’s Day means to them. While each set of lovers has their own special traditions and memories, one overwhelming commonality was the importance of valuing the other half of the pair year-round. Going to dinner, buying gifts, and doing extravagant gestures for their partners is fun, but at the end of the day, what truly makes them happy is the pure gratitude that they have for one another.

Aleisha and Matt feel a strong connection to Valentine’s Day because February 14th was the day of their first date. Due to having very hectic jobs, the two surprisingly had this specific night off at the beginning of the courtship. After meeting through mutual friends, the two discovered a connection that they wanted to explore further. Although having a first date on such a romanticized day was a little scary, the two agreed that it didn’t change anything for them in the beginning stages of their relationship. They now commemorate their love on the 14th of every month, so it has turned into more than just an excuse to go out to dinner and buy gifts for each other.

“Valentine’s Day, at the very least, is a reminder to honor intimacy, connecting, and love,” Aleisha shares. “Like most holidays, it reminds us to take time out of a busy, distracting lifestyle to reconnect with what’s truly important: people. But the flip side is this is something that should be practiced daily. It’s important to always try to recreate the very first date you went on as a couple. All of the excitement, romance, and optimism that was there in the beginning should be there in the end. Valentine’s Day should be a nice day to cap off that mutual feeling every year. Every day that you can learn to apply something new about your partner to your relationship can make celebrating Valentine’s Day that much more special.”

For the busy Loran and Dave, Valentine’s Day has become a “B-List Holiday,” mostly because of where it falls on the calendar. Since many birthdays are in the prior months, and Christmas also takes a major toll, February 14th is less of a bank breaker and more of a relaxing day or night for the married couple. Depending on where it lands during the week, the two either spend a night out on the town or stay in and eat a home-cooked meal.

“It’s just a day to show how much you love your spouse,” Dave shares, “but, I mean, I love her a little more every day so on Valentine’s Day, whenever that day may be, I will love her the most, and the next day I will love her a little bit more.”

Loran admits that before she met Dave, the stigma and hype of the holiday used to get to her. She thought, at the time, that she was missing out on the opportunity to have a fancy dinner or get flowers, as the stereotypes show.

“Honestly,” she says, “now that I’m with the person that I love, the man of my dreams, literally every day is amazing and I’m so lucky to have that. I look back at what I used to think and just kind of chuckle to myself.”

The pair has been together for about seven years, so for them it’s basically just another day, but they definitely make a point to acknowledge the day when it comes around each year.

“I know that if Valentine’s Day didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be thinking, ‘Man, we wish there was this day that we could show each other how much we love one another!’” Loran jokes, “but it is nice!”

Working a lot is a common roadblock for many couples, and it holds true for Soso and Chris, one pair who actually met at their workplace. Their budding relationship snowballed into something serious almost by accident, they share. After being invited to his family’s Christmas party on a random Friday night at the beginning of their courtship, the two became inseparable. Since their “dating anniversary” is technically in December, the two decided to wait until February to celebrate simply because they feel as thought it’s more important to focus on the importance of family during the holiday season, as opposed to each other.

As she gets older, Soso admits that she has lower expectations for the holiday, especially since the two both work in the restaurant industry, so they almost never have the 14th off.

“Restaurants are generally more crowded, expensive, and cheesy that day,” she says. “Another confession is I don’t have the most pleasant or positive experiences with past boyfriends when I or we tried to celebrate it, so I sort of scrapped the attempt altogether and it’s worked in my favor. The holiday itself is somewhat contrived and expectations are exponentially increased, so anything commercial lacks a personal touch.”

Luckily, Chris has his own special way to show his affection towards Soso. Ever since their first Valentine’s Day together—the two were both at work that night—he has been writing her hand written notes that have a more meaningful message than any store bought gift could ever possess.

“Handwritten notes are his mom’s thing,” Soso says, “and it’s a habit that Chris picked up from her and I’m really in love with it. Even though he doesn’t have the best handwriting, I appreciate he took the time to sit down and write a sweet note. In this day in age of technology and accessibility, he could have easily sent me a text message instead. I definitely appreciate gifts that are practical, personal, and/or handmade—as long as it comes with a handwritten note!”

Sometimes the ways people show love or affection towards others is a direct reflection of their upbringings, and like Soso and Chris, Katie and Danielle have a special influence in their relationship, too.

This fairly fresh pair of lovebirds is still basking in the excitement of a new relationship and the two are looking forward to their first Valentine’s Day together. Although they agree that it is like any other day of the year, an opportunity to treat the other to a special experience isn’t something they will pass up.

“I never understood why one day out of the year, we need to project our undying love to the person we love,” Katie shares. “However, the way I was raised makes things conflicted for me. My stepdad loved my mom more than anything and showed her everyday of his life, even until the day he died. On Valentine’s Day he always made sure to send her roses and take her to a nice dinner. His reasoning behind this was that she was special to him everyday of his life, but on this day, he wanted her to feel like the most beautiful and most loved woman alive. I want to treat Danielle the way my stepdad treated my mom because she is the most beautiful woman alive and the best thing that has ever happened to me!”

Katie also wants to reinforce the reoccurring theme that this is, after all, just like any other day. Although she wants to make sure Danielle has a fantastic day, she will continue to show her that she loves her every other day.

“If you love your partner one day, it shouldn’t change how you treat them, especially on Valentine’s Day, she says. “You should always treat them this way every day that you have his/her warmth and love surrounding you!”

(Last names were politely excused from this article)