From the Editor: Valentines and Love
I’m so sorry. If you lifted up this issue and spat or guffawed, I’m sorry. I know what we’ve done to Valentine’s Day. I know we’ve made it a painful reminder of not being paired up or even romantically involved. What other euphemism can I use? Not hooked up? Not sheet dancing? Not committed? (Well, the double entendre of “committed” could definitely apply to some of us more often then not…I kid, I kid.) However you look at it, Valentine’s Day can really smack for the singles. I’m sorry.
Gifts? Chocolate? Candlelit dinner? We can buy ourselves heart-shaped things, eat a box of chocolate, and dine in dim lighting any given day. By ourselves. We can snag our own flowers on they way home, trim their stupid stems, and arrange them in a vase to plunk on the counter. And we’ll stinking like it. Do we feel good when we do this? If not, why don’t we? Is it missing that validation of knowing that something was a gift from someone who cares?
This is when we need to talk ourselves off the ledge and get a grip. There are so many of us on the ledge that it’s precarious, anyway. Unsafe.
It can also smack for the romantically involved. What can also put us on a ledge is not getting what we think we should receive on a day like Valentine’s Day. Or, our gift not being received as we’d hoped. Ooh, this isn’t better or worse than not having a Valentine…it’s different. But, think of the stress that happens when one person in the relationship is thinking that the box looks like it might contain jewelry, but it’s really a Joni Mitchell box set. Then, the relationship is on the ledge, too.
So, let’s look at it from a different perspective–all of us, saddled or single. Whether on a ledge because we had to buy our own flowers or upset because the reservation was made at the wrong restaurant to our partner’s chagrin, we can step back and look at love in a less limiting light.
There is a multitude of websites talking about the Love Languages. You can take quizzes. You can buy t-shirts. You can probably dial up a Love Language Horoscope for all I know. They’re striking a chord because there could be some credence to the topic of love languages. I’ve heard about them for years and believe that the person who started the conversation with specific love languages in mind was Gary Chapman. Now, set aside that he may be talking from a perspective that may not want to be found in the pages of a GLBT publication (or revel in the fact that I’m throwing them in here as a sort of reclamation), and let’s look at the love languages. Apparently, humans give and receive love in different ways; not all of them include cards in the shape of a heart or are restricted to one day a year.
Instead, Chapman asserts that there are five Love Languages. Loosely, they include 1.) what we say and how we say it (words); 2.) how and with whom we spend time (time); 3.) the gifts that we give and how we come to choose them (gifts); 4.) what we do for others (service); and 5.) how we physically express or receive affection (touch). These love languages aren’t all about how we receive love, but how we give love. Expectations of others can get wacky when we receive love one way but they give it in another. If I would feel loved by you vacuuming while you’d rather give me diamonds, we’re out of sync. (And I’m a little daft.)
So, for the coupled, knowing each other’s love language is important—especially at high-anticipation days such as Valentine’s Day. But, for the singles, it’s also important to look around and see how others show us love all the time—without being required to by virtue of being in a relationship. Meeting for dinner and spending time together is a very valid expression of love, sans flowers or chocolate.
Think about how you might receive love. In my life, sure…I like presents and stuff, but they don’t make my world go ‘round. Spending time with friends is precious, but I probably take that more for granted than not. We aren’t a terribly touchy lot, but we hug upon arrival and departure, usually. Again, as a matter of course, hugs are expressions of love–but peripheral. None of those really get me too amped, but all have roles in my life. It’s logical that we don’t rely solely on one of the love languages and none of the others, but that we have a scale of preferences.
It’s taken a while, but I’ve figured myself out—at least for this era of my life. In romantic relations, communication is pinnacle; I’m a words woman. But, as far as friends and family are concerned, every time my people help me move to a new home, they’ve taken a day of time and given me hours of service. Whoa. Love. Not because I expect them to help, but because they do help. Willingly. I am deeply in love with my friends and family and feel great gratitude for their service.
Perhaps it’s what we need most at the time. Service is appreciated with help is required. Words are appreciated because uncertainty is uncomfortable. Sometimes we need a hug or require a roll in the hay. The love languages might be completely contextual. No matter how mysterious or situational they are, there’s still something to them.
Love helps us know who we are—as do the people with whom we have relationships. And, thinking about the languages of love gives us more even more insight. As I was working on the Valentine Gift Guide later in the issue, the one item that resonated was the small pendant that simply says “loved.” It doesn’t need to be written on a pendant and gifted, but wouldn’t that be nice to know? Somehow?
Whether Valentine’s Day or any day, I hope you are loved.