/Beyond the fluff

Beyond the fluff

By Emily Stonehouse

You know I have to do it. 

It’s the only time of year I can be sappy. The great news though, is that by the time this edition is printed, all the chocolate hearts in the shops will be red-ticketed to make room for Easter eggs. You might as well take advantage of that. 

I am not going to get into the nitty-gritty of the history of Valentines’ Day. While the origins have something to do with saints, sacrifices, and sadistic patriarchal practices, the modern-day Valentine’s is now viewed with heart-shaped rose coloured glasses. 

It’s a fluffy holiday, and one that is often skimmed over by anyone who doesn’t write greeting cards for a living. If anything, it’s an opportunity to play up the power dynamic and remind partners to show “love” in some form. Usually roses or teddy bears or cinnamon candies. Fluff. 

I’ll admit that I have breezed past the date more than once. Regardless of my relationship status, it was just never a day that felt like it needed to be celebrated. If I was in a relationship, I felt like I didn’t need a singular day to express love via Hallmark. If I was single, I opted out of Valentine’s emails faster than you can say “Cupid”, and buried my head in the sand until the sparkly shamrocks started to appear on shelves. 

But this week, I was taught a lesson: love is so much more than the fluff. 

I had the opportunity to sit down with couples in love, whatever that looked like to them. The couples I interviewed had entirely different stories, backgrounds, insights, experiences, and advice. A good reminder that there is not a “one size fits all” approach to love; it’s an organic concept – flexible, adaptable, and continuously changing in shape and size.  

While I sat down with these folks to hear their stories, I was enthralled. From the first moments they saw one another, to the point they said “I do,” they were sharing a space in their hearts for one another other. 

This is romantic love. The stuff you see in movies and read in the harlequin stories that are tucked in the magazine rack at Rexall. 

And while these couples told their stories of that romantic love; from the first spark they shared to the silences that grew comfortable, and everything in between, there was so much more to it. 

Love isn’t just the flare – it’s a cornucopia of other colours. It’s friendship. It’s companionship. It’s shared interests. It’s different interests. It’s learning. It’s growing. It’s listening. It’s adapting. 

According to psychologist Abraham Maslow, there are five basic needs for humans to survive: the third item on the list is love and belonging; friendship, family, intimacy, and a sense of connection. Love isn’t just fluff – it’s a basic human need. 

And here is your annual reminder that you do not need to be coupled to enjoy the day. Valentine’s can (and should be) celebrated with whatever makes you sparkle; your friends, your family, your pets, your kids, your plants, and/or most importantly, yourself. Through it all, it’s a day to honour love, and there is no singular recipe for whatever that is to you. 

I hope you enjoy reading the stories that were shared with us over Valentine’s Day in this edition of the Times. It was a good reminder to us as writers that the reason we do what we do is for the stories; these are the people who make our community vibrant. 

And to those who celebrated this day of love – whatever that looked like to you – I hope you got a little sappy, too.