Opinion: Valentine’s Day is about more than romance


Graphic by Maliah White

Sometimes romane doesn’t play out the way we want to. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to celebrate on Valentine’s Day.

Abby Sink, Staff writer

When I was growing up, my parents constantly reminded me that school always came first. 

I had been raised on fairy tales about true love and all the magic and fairy dust that came with it. Naturally, my parents took note. They married young and early. 

My dad would always make jabs at me as I began to have crushes that they wouldn’t help pay for a wedding unless I had a career going and a degree. That didn’t stop me, though, from falling in love with the idea of love.

From my kindergarten boyfriend, ever so sweetly still known to this day by my mother as “Logey Baby,” to my sophomore year of high school’s internalized homophobia heartbreak, I could only fathom Valentine’s Day as being celebrated in a romantic sort of way. 

Simply because I had high hopes, however, didn’t mean I had the time (or style) at the time to make those daydreams a reality. I took what my dad said to heart and turned my longing to be this girl in a rom-com into being the girl who could eventually have it all. I was a chubby kid, overly involved and so deep in the closet that I had the characters of “Narnia” tapping my shoulders and asking me to pass them scarves. I made it easy on myself to focus on school as I didn’t really have much luck in the love department anyway.

Truthfully, I never really had a proper Valentine’s Day until my sophomore year of college. It was my first year out as bi and ended up being my first year with a girlfriend as well. She was good, kind and funny.  To be fair, this was also February 2020, around a month before the social apocalypse and the start of the death of my dating life. 

In the time since COVID-19 hit, I have found out three very important things about my love life:

  • I have terrible taste in partners. 

I have this tendency to see the best in people. While this is usually a trait I love dearly, when peering at my history of potential love interests, I’ve come to find out over the years that this also includes viewing people with rose-colored glasses on. The best comes first, and very quickly, I find that I’ve attracted someone with a level of extremism to their personality.

One potential fling had no emotion, the other had too much. Another cut my hair and disappeared into the wind while someone else couldn’t seem to understand the concept of space in the slightest. 

There’s this level of extremism that appears when I begin pursuing someone, and it’s honestly not healthy in the slightest. Not that I’m actively choosing to pursue relationships that call upon my pull to take care of those I care for and drain my cup empty as a consequence. It just seems to happen, even when it isn’t intended to.

I allow it to.

I see it potentially as a trait I inherited from my mother. As much as I love her, God help me with that tendency she passed along.

The one exception was that first girlfriend my sophomore year of college, but I’ll admit, I didn’t handle the end of that as well as I could have. I still regret how it happened because I do miss having her in my life, even if it is just in a platonic sense. 

Regardless, what doesn’t help my case is: 

  • I attract comically bad scenarios.

When I am actively pursuing someone, I find myself ending up in these situations that genuinely feel like they’re made up. The first time after I came out and asked a girl I had a crush on to hang out, I got a moderately positive response. To jokingly celebrate with my friends at the time, I did a whip,. which ended with me in the hospital with a sprained knee.

It’s a great joke now, two years down the road, but also acts as a reminder that I never can have a normal fling with anyone. There has to be an element to every romantic interest of mine that is wrong in various levels of “ick”.

There was the boy who I almost dated in high school who I’m pretty sure is wanted in Kansas now.

The girl I had a fling with, who I quite literally trusted to cut my hair, and then she fell off the face of the earth within a week.

The man that I discovered a photo of him in the exact same – and I mean the exact same – outfit in the exact same place as my father. 

The “Shrek” pick-up lines and hiding from new roommates.

Being set up with someone who had no interest in me outside of deterring someone’s unloyal thoughts towards their own relationship. 

The anime character “kin.” (Look that up if you want, y’all.)

The funniest thing? None of these include the dating app nightmares.

I notice that no matter the circumstance, there are always quirks. Little memories that in the moment act like the worst batch of Sour Patch Kids. These loves are sweet, fade to sour and then they’re just gone.

I haven’t experienced romantic love in a way that feels sturdy, consistent. 

The love that makes me know what the word really, truly means hasn’t been romantic up to this point. I can read about it in books and watch it in media I like, but the truth of the matter simply is:

  • The best loves in my life aren’t romantic.

The running joke that I have the worst luck with love is certainly not unfounded, but every little love story I exist within, every failed talking stage, god-awful first dates, strange men with issues they’re too old to have and women who think I’m just being nice when I choke out a compliment on their outfit or hair are all part of what makes me appreciate the love I do experience the most. 

When the clock struck twelve on New Years this go-around, I found myself looking around at my loved ones. We were sitting in one of my closest friend’s apartments, who I’ve been privileged enough to have gotten to know within the past two years.

Surrounding us was the found family that life has brought me. The individual love stories of their own accord, not filled with roses and chocolates or peppered kisses on the skin, but with smiles that come second nature.

The kind of love that starts when you find out you got completely identical customized beanies at a homecoming event and you compliment theirs on their Instagram.

The kind of love that is laughing on the floor at 3 am giggling because of a missing duo at what could be the last sleepover you ever have in your college years. 

The kind of love that shows up after you insist, “I’m fine, I’ll be fine, please don’t worry,” with brownies and Studio Ghibli movies in hand. 

The kind of love that lasts for years and years on end, from a 7th grade play all the way into an incomprehensible adulthood in different states. 

The kind of love that reconnects after forgiveness is begged for and granted a second chance. 

Sitting there in that kitchen, watching the loves of my current life, the people that make me feel like the wealthiest woman alive, try and pop the cork on some cheap pride champagne to celebrate the incoming new year – I knew I wasn’t in love, but I was submerged in it.

I am the type of person who acknowledges when I love, I love with everything in me. For the first time this year, I’m taking the initiative to pour all of that love I have elsewhere. 

With a cup now overflowing with affection, I first poured some into my thirsting soul. Self-care has never been my first instinct, but I’m getting better. I’m not perfect and I’ll never be, but there’s progress. 

Second, I poured into my family. Calling more, texting more, updating more. I recognize how much I need them the closer graduation comes. The looming fear of ‘what if’ is never as bad as it could be because I know that every road will lead back to them. 

Finally, I am making an effort to pour my love into the people who have ever so kindly rationed enough of their own for me. 

I am most happy when I am surrounded by these incredible individuals that I just so happened to cross paths with. 

Even those that are no longer anything more than scorched wooden panels where bridges once stood, I can’t help but feel thankful for them.

If there’s anything the past year has taught me, it’s that I am my own person,  but the person I am is better when I am blessed with love from others. 

Even when that love comes to an end, every dent, every burn, every break has made me a collage of my past loves: familial, platonic, and otherwise.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.