The value of platonic relationships is often overlooked in the pursuit of romantic love
Valentine’s Day is one of my least favourite holidays. Love is great and all, but commercial consumerism has turned it into a day necessitating perfect gifts and elaborate dates. Do you remember handing out valentines to all your friends in elementary school? I loved that and kept doing it through high school. But then somewhere along the way we reach a point in our lives where “love” suddenly only has one meaning: romance.
A ridiculous number of romcoms revolve around a single protagonist desperate to find love. Even children’s movies focus on finding true love. My mother once commented on how sad it was that an incredibly kind acquaintance is still single, even in her mid-fifties. However, what if this is her choice? Why does being single evoke pity? Well-meaning family and friends often make encouraging comments about singleness, reassuring us that we have plenty of time to find our other half. After all, we aren’t worth anything until we find our One True Love.
Ignoring the fact that all of these messages are extremely heteronormative, why is the world so invested in making us feel like crap unless we find romantic love?
One of my acquaintances once dismissed these concerns. According to him, no one makes people feel that a relationship is necessary to be fulfilled in life, and people who aren’t in relationships don’t feel any pressure to find one. In my opinion, this acquaintance is incorrect.
What about the aromantic people? What about people who don’t want a relationship or can’t find one? The idea of soulmates can hurt. Imagine the entire world is telling you that finding true love is easy and happens to everyone yet it never happens to you. You would feel like you’re doing something wrong, like there’s something wrong with you, like you’re broken. Trust me.
The way I approach relationships is different from the way it is in movies. I’ve tried dating and it feels wrong. Relationships and romance are a struggle for me. Sometimes I feel like if I’m not doing it “right,” I must be failing at romance entirely. Sometimes I worry whether I’ll ever find someone. Discovering the term “demiromantic” has made me feel more at peace with this part of my life. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, LGBT2Q+ advocate Ash Hardell defines it as a romantic orientation in which romantic attraction is only felt after developing strong emotional connections.
And what about platonic love? We seem to have thrown it aside, choosing to value romance above all. No one talks about platonic soulmates, about friendships that enrich your life, about friends who are there for you through everything, about how it feels to lose a friend or have a friend break-up. All types of love are important types of love. We shouldn’t hold romance on a pedestal just because Disney says to and leave platonic love in the dust. Let this be the Valentine’s Day of intense platonic love and valuing yourself for more than just your romantic relationships.