Love, actually, isn’t all about romance

Let’s face it, Valentines Day is just a bit disappointing for so many of us. At this time of year, it’s hard to escape the references to ‘love’ all around us. Shops are full of tacky gifts, dating site adverts step up a notch and it can leave us feeling… unloved.

Whether or not you are in a relationship, the pressure to be approved of by someone else is unhelpful. We might feel inadequate because we aren’t in a relationship or dissatisfied with the affection our partner shows us.

I believe this disappointment sits right at the heart of Valentines Day – it’s focus is on being loved rather than being a source of love. All the ‘romance’ we see around us is a distraction from the true meaning and value of love. It presents love as a bit of a trap and can leave us feeling powerless. But when we choose to love others and reflect this in our actions, love starts being part of who we are, rather than an unreachable dream.

So what do I mean by ‘true love’? I’m talking about doing kind things for others, usually at a cost to ourselves. Spending time with a friend who needs support even though you’d rather watch Netflix in your pyjamas. Supporting your lonely, elderly neighbour. Being kind to your colleague even though you know they gossip about you. These are difficult choices, but you can make them. Love is fully within your power and grasp.

While cards and candlelit dinners can be nice, they aren’t what we should be looking for as expressions of true love. I’m not just writing this to make you feel better – I really believe that loving other people can change your outlook on life. This valentines day, why not do something to truly express your love for a friend, relative or stranger? I guarantee it will be more satisfying than receiving a dozen last-minute roses from the supermarket!

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