How to Share the Spirit of Valentine’s Day with Anyone
Valentine’s Day is a great idea and all, but you don’t need a holiday or even a reason to show someone you love them.
You also don’t have to be “in love” with them to express your appreciation for who they are, what they do, or how they affect your life. In fact, you don’t even have to know a person to be kind.
Depending on who you ask (translation: what website you visit), the ancient Greeks had up to 12 words for love, not synonyms, but specific words to express the different types of love. “Eros,” for example, referred to romantic or sexual love, the kind that makes Valentine’s Day a $22 billion industry. (Sorry to break it, lovebirds, but it was corporate America that made February 14 the official day to shower your partner with greeting cards, overpriced flowers, and Skittles and M&Ms on the Valentine’s Day theme, not Socrates.)
So, in the spirit of the ancient Greeks, we challenge you to think outside the box this Valentine’s Day by spreading love, kindness and appreciation far beyond your significant other. The good news is that you don’t have to leave the neighborhood to do this.
Philia (pronounced FEE-le-ah): friendship, brotherly love, platonic love.
No disrespect to Eros, but romantic love is not what sustains most adults. A 2021 study by the Pew Research Center found that only 4% of people surveyed globally said they found meaning or fulfillment in their lives through romantic relationships, compared to 20% who cited friends and family. community as sources.
According to Psychology Today, there are various reasons why this is true, but Valentine’s Day is probably not the best time to bring it all up. Suffice it to say, the love we feel from close friendships should not be underestimated or go unnoticed.
When choosing a gift for a friend, look for something that reminds you of them: fun socks with donuts or unicorns on them or a colorful kitchen towel with a sassy message like “Your opinion is not part of the recipe”; a book on a subject that interests them; a vintage postcard or scrapbook you found while hunting; a six-pack of a new craft beer, especially if it’s from a local brewery; or a succulent in a pretty container because your friend loves plants but can’t keep them alive.
For those who are obsessed with their pet, give that furry baby (feathered friend, cold-blooded companion, etc.) a gift, such as novelty dog biscuits, a catnip toy, calming CBD chews or whatever is an appropriate gift for a chicken or snake. (FUN FACT: Americans spent over $2 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets last year…in the midst of a pandemic!)
Gift cards are always an option, but for a real friend, you might want to invest a little more time than you would for a Secret Santa exchange. If money is an issue, spending some quality time with a friend over coffee or hosting a movie night is a thoughtful option and, depending on the friend, far preferable to a pair.
Storge (pronounced STOR-ghee): familial or familiar love, love of belonging or affection.
Storge primarily involves loved ones, especially parents and children, as well as siblings, and is fueled by instinctual affection. Unlike philia, storge doesn’t even require you to like the person to feel storge. (Who doesn’t have a family member they adore and would do anything for but who doesn’t really love them as a person? IYKNK.) As the saying goes, blood is more thick as water, and unconditional love is, well, unconditional.
To celebrate those people in your life, go for something sentimental. Find a photo of a memorable moment together and put it in a nice frame. And please make sure it’s a flattering image of both of you. Or send a handwritten note (remember how to send something, right?) just to let them know you’re thinking of them, maybe mention something you appreciate about them. Parents and grandparents eat this stuff.
Agape (pronounced: ah-GAH-pay): love for all, benevolence, the highest love.
For people you care about but don’t fit into the previous categories, don’t hesitate to tell them how much you appreciate them and what they do.
Show your favorite barista, bartender or hairstylist some love in the form of a bigger tip than you usually leave. You don’t have to let the money do the talking, of course. Just be polite – look them in the eye, ask them how they are and for Cupid’s sake, could you be patient and not blame them personally for things beyond their control, like, for example, missing out of staff or not having something because it’s on the back order? You’d be surprised how much a little kindness can go in the service industry, especially these days.
The small businesses you frequent also need special attention. Just by buying locally you are already showing love. Personally thanking the owner and staff is always nice, but also try sharing your appreciation virtually. Take a few minutes to review the business on Google or Yelp or share your positive experiences in a social media post. You don’t have to be a restaurant critic or an “influencer” to have your opinion heard and help generate new customers for a local business. If there are any employees who stand out, be sure to mention them by name,
Since we’re talking about love for everyone, go ahead and sprinkle some kindness on someone you don’t even know. Compliment a stranger on their glasses or scarf or even their handwriting. Don’t be scary about it. (On a personal note, I’ll never get tired of hearing someone say, “I love your hair!”) Wave to a stranger pulling out of a parking spot. Say hello to a passerby. There’s also always the random act of kindness, like paying for a stranger’s order at your favorite cafe. (PRO TIP: Find out the total from the barista before you propose.) Donate to a local nonprofit. Give blood.
If you’re really feeling the Valentine’s Day vibes, let a car merge on the Fuller Warren instead of speeding up and pretending you didn’t.