The Valentine

I once spent Valentine’s Day in McDonald’s which, actually, has been one of my favourite love days to date. A Big Mac and a stroll through Exeter city centre and I’m all yours, apparently. And before you assume that I was only content with such a budget date because I was a student, I can tell you that I’d still much rather sit in McDonalds getting pea-shot-at by delinquents than paying double for a meal at Pizza Express, whilst rubbing shoulders with newly-weds and soppy couples called Roger and Tilly.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no cupid-quasher and am an absolute sucker for huge, romantic gestures, but something I’d like to see happen is for real love to be expressed on the most doting of days rather than just accepting the crappy Hallmark definition.

Carrie Bradshaw once said that she was, “Looking for love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, all-consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love”. And on first watching that final episode of undoubtedly one of the best television series of all time, I thought that this was romance at its finest. But as time goes by, I’ve started to wonder whether or not this is in fact something that lots of us crave, all the while totally taking for granted real love.

For love to be ‘all consuming’, it verges on an addiction. And an unhealthy one at that. For it to be “inconvenient”, it normally involves sacrifice of sorts. So one of you might already be attached or you could be living far away from each other. These components make everything far more intense and cause you to label your feelings as a matter of urgency, perhaps thrusting us into the label of love when in reality it’s something very different?

As I’ve mentioned before (on roughly 4576 occasions), I have been in love once in my life. And although it has recently come to pass, it did teach me what real love is. It’s not that bizarre teenage love that consumes you for the duration of sixth form. Instead it’s quite literally offering someone your last Rolo. Or leaving a great party early when they’ve had too much to drink or buying a train ticket to see them even when you’ve almost maxed out your overdraft.

I’ve come to realise that real romantic love should be as infinite and comparable to that which you have for your best friend (minus the canoodling of course). For instance, I would never in a million years contemplate swapping any of my best girl friends for any other women. And real romantic love should feel the same. If you look back at every Valentine’s Day since you were aware of its arguably pathetic existence, I can assure you that there will have been one new love interest per year. But I bet your bestie has remained well after you’ve closed the door behind all of them. That’s real love.

Basically, when you experience true love, the grass is always greener on your side of the fence.

My parents have been married for twenty five years and when I ask how she has managed to remain faithful, she proudly replies, “because he’s enough”. And as unromantic as that “enough” might sound to you, it’s probably the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard. It’s the contentment and utter acceptance of who each other are that I find so inspired. And that’s why I think they’ve lasted a whole quarter of a century.

Life is only full of ups and downs if you let yourself get taken along for the ride, and with the right person, even the most challenging of circumstances can be plain sailing.

So if you’re looking for someone to spend your life with, then you won’t want what Carrie calls ‘real love’. Instead, you’ll want friendship, with that certain je ne sais quoi thrown in.

Not just a shit card on Valentine’s Day.

Happy 14th February everyone.