The only other person I can think of who loves romantic comedies as much as I do is Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project, and she’s fictional, she’s also my best friend, but that’s a story for another day. Look, I love all the trappings of two people falling in love. I’m a sucker for a “meet cute.” Throw in 27 or so dresses, a holiday house swap, giving two weeks notice, a diary, or the proposal that leads to a trip to Sitka, Alaska, and I’m legit swooning. But, but, but…even I know the truth.
Valentine’s Day is of the devil.
It doesn’t matter if you are in a committed relationship or still looking for your person, it is a day that mostly makes people feel bad about themselves and their relationships. Because here’s the deal, romantic love, as great as it is in the movies, lasts just about as long in reality…1 hour and 37 minutes. It’s a blip in the big scheme of love.
Yes, we know, those metaphoric 97 minutes of romantic love are so good. So good that they make the world literally insane. The endorphins. The validation. The immortality. These are all real things chemically produced by flirting and falling in love that affect your brain and make you think that this thing you are experiencing is the answer to the meaning of life.
When you are romantically in love with someone it affects the feeling in your heart. It’s true! It makes it go flippity flip. It burns. How in the world can that be possible? I don’t know, but I do know that it makes people do crazy things when they are feeling it, and crazy things when it’s denied to them. It’s a drug, people. The Drug Awareness programs in schools should really talk about the dangers of taking too much love too quickly.
Enter Valentine’s Day, the drug pusher of love. It’s a no win situation for any of us who aren’t Hugh Grant or Sandra Bullock. For reasons that can not be explained by the married, single people feel like Valentine’s Day is worse for them. It’s as if single people imagine that having picked your forever mate is some kind of non-stop romantic field day that involves the tantric sustainment of the early romantic feelings. Yah, not so much.
And married people, wrongfully, have glorified Valentine’s Day for the single, thinking how fun it would be to still have the option of flirting and getting that pheromone rush. They have conveniently forgotten the number of, and grossness of, the frogs you have to kiss before there’s even a will to live in the dating world.
The truth is that romance, when it lands, for however brief it is, is pretty, pretty, pretty good. But, and let’s be very clear here, love is unsustainable in that original, first time, holy shit all I can think about is you, addictive, state of newness. So, it begs, on its hands and knees, the question, why do we glorify it so much?
My answer to that riddle is that drugs are addictive. Even if you haven’t had a cigarette in 30 years, you still think it might be nice. And not to completely knock romantic love, it is fun and wonderful to fall in love. It, for all its flaws, is the reason the human race continues. So there’s that.
But, the love that most of us experience for the majority of our lives is the regular, ordinary, boring love. This wildly underestimated, amazing love doesn’t require Spanx or overpriced roses or candlelight or prix fixe menus. This kind of love is everywhere, so abundant we hardly notice it.
It’s when my husband sets my coffee up to brew and all I have to do is hit start. It’s when my daughter Facetimes me when she walks to class. It’s when my fifteen year old son has friends over and they play Clue with us. It’s when my daughter does jigsaw puzzles with me while we watch dumb movies. It’s when my sister-in-law hosts my family and my best friend over Thanksgiving. It’s a ride to the airport. It’s when my friends remember I have a dr. appointment and text me to see how it went. It’s when my friends make time to meet up with me when I’m in their city. It’s a random “hi” via text or email just to see how I am.
It’s basically all of the kindness of your friends and family, and even the random love of strangers. It’s people around the world who read my words. It’s the person who lets you merge late even though you’re being kind of a jerk.
Regular, ordinary, boring love makes up for what it lacks in heart flips with long term, foundational dependability. There’s a great quote by George Eliot, a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans who used a male pseudonym because, sexism, that sums up the love we should celebrate. “What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for each other?”
I first read these words many years ago as part of a wedding shower favor…and I was shook. It might have been the first time I ever understood what love was.
So, this Valentine’s Day, don’t get caught up in the montages of romantic comedies, although, my god, I love them. Don’t let this day make you feel like your marriage or your single life is lacking in gooey schmoopie love. Ask yourself if you have people in your life who help to make it less difficult. Ask yourself if you’re that person to someone else. And if so, celebrate that! If not, forget romantic love and find yourself people who love you and try to make your life less difficult and be that for someone you love too.
Happy Regular, Ordinary, Boring Love Day that turns out to be the best thing in the world, well, outside of Colin Firth smiling at you, but you get the point.
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