Most people do not need a definition for love. We know love when we see it in action. Love has so many meanings. Love is not appreciated when it is used inappropriately. To many in casual relationships, love is wearing a condom, having sex, not making babies. We have ideas about what love is and what love is not. Love for some men is marrying another wife or having several concubines. A woman’s wardrobe and home show what she loves.
The question is, how have we come to reduce love to chocolate cakes, a night out, love fiesta, sex, alcohol and a nice time on Valentine’s Day? Is this the real meaning of love or another sideline distraction that fills the void in our lives? Valentine’s Day is perhaps just one expression of the many faces of love. If the truth were to be told, Valentine’s Day places an unhealthy burden on many couples. For the man who loves his wife, but struggles to find his own expression, Valentine compels him to get flowers or gifts. If he helps out with her car, the kids and groceries but fails on Valentine’s Day, the madam might not be happy with him.
It is thought that those in long term relationships miss Valentine altogether. The furore that Valentine causes every year is out of proportion and, in certain respects, makes the day another ‘mating opportunity’ for predators. The honest truth is that real men show their love every day, especially when it is not Valentine. It is better to have a man who affectionately cares every day of the year than one who shows off on Valentine’s Day. It is not suggested that Valentine is all together redundant. There are genuine relationships that thrive especially on Valentine, but when we take off the tinted glasses, many couples feel pressurised when Valentine looms.
Valentine’s Day is over-rated. In an economy where most people have less cash to spend, it would be something of an entertainment to watch who is celebrating Valentine. The caution to ladies who know they would be spending Valentine alone is to spend the day pampering and loving themselves. There is no point spending the day sad or wishing for what is not. All men at some point will disappoint anyway. It is wisdom on Valentine’s Day to shift the focus from what a man can give to what a woman can do for herself. This is not women’s liberation but just plain common sense. Besides, the average Nigerian man is probably just as broke as the rest of us anyway.
Why do we need to take care of ourselves especially on Valentine’s Day? Many of us have so many responsibilities in life that we forget to take care of ourselves. And while it’s hard to prioritise something like taking a holiday, self care is an important aspect of life management. A massage, soak in the tub or other forms of pampering will revitalise inside and out. Buying yoga lessons, joining a gym or investing in a personal trainer is another quality way to splash money on self-care. Taking time out to treat your body like the temple it is has benefits which do not always lead to major improvements in overall health, but it can trigger a relaxation response, which can prevent chronic stress from damaging your health. In a sense, self-care is good for you inside and out.
Taking time out to care for yourself can remind you and others that you and your needs are important, too. Having a well-cared-for body can make you feel good about yourself and your life, and conveys to others that you value yourself. This can contribute to long-term feelings of well-being. Women who neglect their own needs and forget to nurture themselves are at danger of deeper levels of unhappiness, low self-esteem and feelings of resentment. Also, sometimes people who spend their time only taking care of others can be at risk for getting burned out on all the giving, which makes it more difficult to care for others or themselves. Taking time to care for yourself, especially on Valentine’s Day, can make you a better caretaker for others.
Men can also pamper themselves if they so wish. It is logical to spend on one’s self than on greedy girls who demand so much (cash) from hardworking men. A man who has decided to avoid this Valentine can spend the evening in the gym or in the company of friends. A man who chooses to indulge himself can buy an experience into what ever catches his fancy. Most men love to take advantage of professional massages because this does not require them to visit salons that seems to cater only to women. A man may get a manicure and pedicure but as any man who has gone into a salon with his girlfriend can tell you, spa services aren’t exactly geared towards men. A man can treat himself to an upscale professional barber who would give him close, clean shave that will leave you looking and feeling your very best. Most men inevitably splash out on technological toys like iPhones, iPads, Amazon’s Kindle, Xbox et al anyhow. Spending Valentine alone is another reason for a wealthy metrosexual male to spend money. Richer men buy the latest cars from Europe. It all depends on a man’s mood and the state of his wallet really.
In a sense, Valentine’s Day has become boring, for it unwittingly promotes the wrong kind of message. A suggestion should be to change Valentine’s Day to Friends and Hugs Day simply because the argument can be made for the many people in our beyond life who need hugs. They are people you probably know: people with low self-esteem, people who have been in abusive relationships, the lonely, alone, betrayed, disappointed, rejected, lost, forsaken, broke, tired, weary, distressed, confused, wounded and bruised. Here are people you may want to share some of the love in your heart with. And if there is no one to hug, give yourself a warm embrace. Now that is the essence of Valentine. Love.