This Valentine’s Day, free your love from conventions
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Feb 11, 2019-Monday
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This Valentine’s Day, free your love from conventions

Display of love need not hinge upon usual practices of giving gifts and staging surprises. Sometimes, the simplest gesture can speak volumes.

gurgaon Updated: Feb 11, 2019 14:27 IST
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Even if one does not believe in a special day to celebrate love, it is hard to escape the spirit and mood of Valentine’s Day.(HT File )

“I am confused. I don’t know what to gift. I am stressed out,” I overheard a young gentleman, who was in his early 30s, say this to his friends. He received a sympathetic nod and an understanding smile from almost all of them. Another young man immediately echoed his feelings by saying “You know how everything is expected to go absolutely perfect.” They giggled and the discussion went on for a while.

These men were racking their brains, wondering what gifts to buy or surprises to plan for the Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t stop smiling. I must admit their concern sounded cute, notwithstanding the fact that we don’t know how much of these get translated into action. To be fair, at least there was an intention. Coffee time was over and we returned to our desks. But the conversation kept playing in my head.

I also remember reading a Facebook study that revealed how the relationship status changed for many before and after the D-Day, indicating many break-ups. Could this be because of unmet expectations? Just like during birthdays, when we are tempted to evaluate our worth and purpose on becoming earthlings, does Valentine’s Day makes people pause and wonder if they are in a worthy relationship? All said and done, there is a considerable amount of stress and anxiety.

But isn’t Valentine’s Day supposed to be a celebration of love? The stress factor only goes up when it involves expecting spouses to turn into mind readers and conjuring up romantic surprises. We expect them to know what we really want by taking cues from what we may have said earlier. Men, who may not be popular for empathy, find it cumbersome to cope with this expectation. A look into the women-only community conversations indicates how women knew exactly what they wished to gift their valentine. There is clarity and confidence.

When I brought this up with a male friend, he had a different view. He said the Valentine’s Day reinforces some outdated gender roles. In his opinion, this festival puts more pressure on men to make it special for women and prepares women to expect/receive gifts. He may or may not be right. Social media amplifies this, when people post about their celebration. Although we know it could be embellished, we are tempted to compare it with our own.

This Thursday everywhere you turn, you will be seeing hearts. Even if you do not believe in a special day to celebrate love, it is hard to escape the spirit and mood of this festival. Some may argue that this is nothing but hype stirred by commercial establishments to make more profits.

Whatever it is, the idea of celebrating love sounds beautiful. But we need not restrict ourselves to the conventional practices of giving out gifts or staging surprises. In my opinion, what matters the most is letting the other person know and feel that he or she is cared for and loved. It can be a simple gesture like making a card and writing a poem. It does not necessarily have to be grand or loud. Sometimes, the simple things keep it easy and fun. The relationship should not hinge on how the Valentine’s Day is celebrated. It is important the day becomes the annual celebration of the love you share and cherish.

This is also the best time of the year to fall in love with yourself. While it does feel great to be pampered by someone else, do not hand this over entirely. It does make us feel special when a loved one puts together a beautiful surprise. However it is a much more liberating feeling to have little or no expectations from others. It removes the stress and anxiety from the air. All that you are left with is, love, happiness and celebrations. Happy Valentine’s Day!

(An advocate of women’s rights, the author started a Facebook community called Gurgaon Moms to create a local support network for mothers in the city. Today, it has more than 25,000 members)

First Published: Feb 11, 2019 14:27 IST