Coming to terms with the day of Love

It’s that time of year again. Flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, jewelry and heart-shaped everything. Valentine’s Day generates a collective groan for those who despise it, but many have grown to appreciate it by redefining the meaning of the holiday.

Corinna Carlotti, a sophomore at DePaul, used to hate Valentine’s Day because of the added pressure to be in a relationship. She said not having a date “felt like a failure” and social media led her to compare her life to others.

“People glamorize their relationship on Valentine’s Day, so everything looks picture perfect, and I think sometimes you think, well I don’t have myself together, I don’t have my love life together,” Carlotti said.

Carlotti said not having a partner during this holiday made her feel like she was doing something wrong, and it amplified feelings of inadequacy. According to Lifeworks, a human resources center, 7 out of 10 teenage girls believed that they were not good enough or did not measure up to others, whether in looks, relationships or academic performance.

“Honestly, at that point it was a lot of self-loathing and self-hatred,” Carlotti said. “It felt like I wasn’t good enough to have somebody on Valentine’s Day, like I wasn’t worthy of having that.”

Jamie Campbell, an interpersonal communication adjunct professor at DePaul who specializes in mediated relationship communication, said inviting any level of intimacy into one’s life requires people to have self-love, self-respect and self-knowledge.

“If your tank is empty on intimacy and self-love, I think it’s going to fuel the fire of not liking this holiday because it’s all about performing intimacy,” Campbell said.

Carlotti’s father played a major role in filling her self-love tank by showing her tokens of love like buying her flowers every Valentine’s Day which helped her learn to appreciate the holiday.

Carlotti adopted a new perspective on Valentine’s Day which focused on friendship love rather than only romantic love. She honors her friendships on Galentine’s Day which celebrates all platonic relationships. Galentine’s Day, which is celebrated on Feb. 13, emerged through the sitcom show “Parks and Recreation.”.

Alyssa Kilgallen, a University of Iowa sophomore, grew a similar fondness for the holiday by appreciating her other relationships. She values the tradition her grandparents have formed by mailing her cards every Valentine’s Day.

“I have more respect now for Valentine’s Day in that aspect because it’s all about love and caring about someone whether that’s your family, your friends, so I guess that helps,” Kilgallen said.

She said the English language should have more than one word for love because growing up she always thought Valentine’s Day was about romantic love.

“I think having multiple definitions like the Greeks do is beneficial because then no one gets confused or weirded out by someone saying they love them and they don’t feel overwhelmed either,” Kilgallen said.

The ancient Greeks had eight words for love. They are “eros,” romantic love; “philia,” friendship love; “agape,” universal love, such as for nature or God; “storge,” familiar love; “mania,” obsessive love; “ludus,” playful love; “pragma,” enduring love and “philautia,” self-love, according to Greek City Times.

Kilgallen recently watched “The Notebook” with friends and said love in the media is always depicted through a heterosexual lens, leading to insufficient LGBTQ+ representation.

Campbell said because our society relies on social media heavily, “We get this idea of what the happy couple needs to be because we see movies or TV shows that are portraying this image of what happiness or love or satisfaction should look like.”

Despite the media honoring traditional relationships, Campbell suggested changing the narrative of Valentine’s Day by honoring those who support you, even if they are not romantically involved.

“I encourage people who have been on the track of hating Valentine’s Day or trying to dismantle it to maybe instead of abolishing it, reform it and reshape it,” Carlotti said. “Apply it to their own life as they see fit because love should be nurtured in a capitalistic society where you are working all the time.”

Whether you choose to go out to dinner with your significant other or stay at home with friends, love comes in many forms and it’s worth celebrating.