Every Valentine's Day for the past four years, Ashley and I have spent the holiday with friends. This is the very best way to celebrate it, in our experience. And I can't see us doing it any other way.
We usually do something small just the two of us and then see our friends, Phil and Michelle, the following weekend. Some years, this is the only time we get to see them, so we always try to make the most of it.
We do it right — dress up and go to some place fancy, indulge in the most amazing food we can find, usually stay up late and sleep in the next morning. We always end the evening with a molten chocolate cake (we insist on this, even if it's not on the menu).
It's a wonderful time of conversation, catching up, and enjoying life together. For us, Valentine's Day is not about romance; it's about friendship. After years of being married, I'm realizing how important this is.
A day for friends, not lovers
I met my friend Phil in Spain during a study abroad program in college. The experience changed our lives.
We don't call each other by our real names anymore. I call him Felipe, and he calls me Pepe — the Spanish nicknames we went by when we lived in Seville. Our friendship has stood the test of time, despite distance and circumstance.
Every time we get together, we have a blast. We laugh and tell stories and listen to amazing music. Mostly though, we just enjoy each other's company.
The time is always rich and full. I can't explain it; we just feel more alive when we're all together. It's invigorating and encouraging — just what we need on V-Day.
The difference between lust and love
The other night, I went for a late-night run. When I returned at 11:30, my adrenaline was pumping and I couldn't go to sleep. When a rerun of That 70s Show went to commercial, I was inundated with three consecutive ads for singles lines — all 900 numbers.
Apparently, some people (particularly big-busted, scantily-clad women) “just want to have fun” and aren't looking for anything serious. Call it what you want — this was an invitation to engage in phone sex.
For a moment, my heart leaped. My pulse quickened, and I hesitated to change the channel. It was the same sensation I felt in high school or college when a pretty girl would glance at me in the hall. At the time, I thought it was love. Now, I know better.
I turned off the TV, crawled into bed, and cuddled my wife. I thought of that line from 500 Days of Summer:
She’s better than the girl of my dreams. She’s real.
And I smiled and fell asleep.
Sometimes, the things we desire — the things we think we love — are mere reflections of what we're really seeking.
What is love? (Baby, don't hurt me no more)
A lot of people get lonely on Valentine's Day. Which is sad, really. Because what is love? It's friendship — deep, long-lasting, intimate connection with someone who knows you better than anyone.
If you find yourself unhappy today — or better yet, tomorrow after the all the chocolates disappear and the flowers wilt — and that feeling of emptiness returns, consider this: Maybe you're chasing the wrong thing.
Maybe love is closer than you think.
If you're upset you don't have a Valentine, you're probably not looking hard enough. Go find a friend. Whether it's the person you live with or someone on the other side of the world — find them.
After all, what better way to learn to love than to be with friends?
What do you think about friendship and love? Share your thoughts or a Valentine's Day story in the comments.
*Photo credit: Phillie Casablanca (Creative Commons)