Romantic love is not the only type of love to recognize

By Alaina Perdon

Elm Staff Writer

As Valentine’s Day approaches on the horizon, drugstore shelves fill with cellophane flowers and heart-shaped chocolates that beg the inevitable cynical shopper to scoff, “Love is dead.”

Psychologist Maryanne Fisher attempted to assess the actual state of love in a 2010 study on young women’s perceptions of romance.

“Basically, in today’s dating scene, romance has been entirely pushed to the side,” Fisher said in Psychology Today. “We reached the conclusion that romance is pretty much dead.”

Given the number of breakups, failed Tinder dates, and general heartaches I have witnessed in recent weeks, I could understand the sentiments of the local curmudgeon and Fisher’s subjects. Perhaps the world of courtship and dating has changed dramatically from the heartwarming gestures we see in black-and-white movies.

I, too, am perplexed by the nuances of millennial hookup culture. I refuse to touch a dating app, and would much prefer to get swept away by my grandparents’ fantasy-like tales of how they fell in love. Admittedly, it is easy to see how some feel the charm of old-fashioned romance is missing from today’s dating scene. But I believe love transcends the constraints of just romance and dating.

We assign a heavy weight to romantic love. The feeling of being “in love” with a romantic partner is a beautiful one, but our society seems to view a romantic relationship as the most valuable, the goal we should all be striving toward.

In reality, it is just one manifestation of perhaps the most important and multifaceted emotion humans can feel. When we choose to focus all of our energy on finding romantic love, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to find love and happiness in other facets of life.

Love is not dead; we simply limit our view of it.

The language of Sanskrit boasts an astounding 96 words for “love,” encapsulating every point ranging from appreciation of a catchy song to affection for a spouse on the spectrum that is love. My love for my grandmother and my love for John Hughes movies are in no way comparable; yet, both are legitimate and, frankly, make life worth living.

Familial bonds, platonic relationships, and simple admiration of those around us are all forms of love that add just as much meaning to our lives as a romantic relationship. By learning to recognize and appreciate these types of love, we allow ourselves to be happier people.

I am reminded that love is alive and well each time my mom sends me a letter just because she knows I enjoy getting mail, or my suitemate pulls me in for a hug before I go to bed, or my friend living across the country calls to hear how my day went.

I believe subtle reminders that a person is valued and cared for make this world just a bit more bearable.

Moreover, love exists beyond the bonds people share. The appreciation of seeing a cute animal or eating a freshly baked pastry is a smaller, often disregarded form of love. Recognizing these miniscule moments of joy and the love we feel towards the “little things in life” allows us to be happier.

Love exists in a myriad of ways.

So, while I respect your pursuits for romantic affection this Valentine’s Day, I also challenge you to seek the often-overlooked signs of love and to show a little more love of your own.

Love lives as long as we allow it to.

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