Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Best Way to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

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.

Valentine's Day Heart

Photo credit: Phillie Casablanca (Creative Commons)

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:

Shes 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)

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Spot on Jeff.

    Too often V-day’s seen as a make up assignment, compensation for the other 364. Or it’s a reaching out to try to re-kindle something, hopefully. Or it’s out of obligation. 

    It’s just what we do. It’s just what I did.

    At its best, it’s an amplification of what’s already there. A excuse for a celebration between you and your best friend. Or friends. That’s cool what you do.

    For me, these days it represents something even deeper than my past expectations. It’s a day that begs for celebration and is a reminder of what was. It’s a day that marks a turnaround. It’s a specific day that started the process of my kids getting their mom back. Difficult, yet amazing. Miraculous, even.

    It’s a day that vain attempts to find the wrong thing came to an end. 

    Forgiveness took its place.

  • Great post! I’ve been encouraging my friends on Facebook that are depressed to enjoy what they do have, and not to worry so much about having a date. I try to tell them that time will provide them with one, and they just have to put themselves out there. Besides – they probably have more money than I do now!

    What you’ve said is a good reminder, however – as commercialized as this holiday may be, its roots are in something deeper, something much more meaningful than what a box of chocolates can convey. 

  • i love your valentine’s day tradition! and i’m all about spending today with a dear friend…

  • I love love love the part about the late night commercials and crawling into bed with your wife. That really is the difference between love and lust. Killer post Jeff.

  • talia

    love this!  i’m going to suggest to joe that we spend it with friends from now on!!:)

  • I married my best friend. Friendship, to me, is companionship. Just like the armor bearers back in the day who would accompany their warriors through thick and thin, carrying their armor, cladding them, and pulling them off the field when they got hurt or holding their arms high when the battle was won. Marriage is just a lifelong commitment to be there as a friend, lover, and, ultimately, a companion through thick and thin. It is a bond of friendship. Without love, no relationship will ever get beyond the shallow talk about the weather. Without love, their is no trust. Without love, there is really nothing substantial worth having, especially not friendship. 

    Friendship takes more than one face too. I can honestly say I have loved deeply in a non-romantic relationship plenty of times before. And, ultimately, it was that love that made it lasting and memorable to the point where years later you can pick up at the same place you left off without skipping a beat. Just like anything worthwhile, love takes work fueling and fanning its flame, but love is selfless and its light is priceless. To give and receive love in life’s friendships is the point of existence. Great post. Perfect for the annual Valentine’s Day. 

  • I’m blessed to have married my high school sweethart and have been married for 13 years. Don’t know what I would do without her!

  • The thing that irks me about Valentine’s Day is that love (and friendship) should be celebrated 365 days a year not all bottled up and exploded on one. (I feel this way about Thanksgiving too).

    Katie

  • Great post, Jeff.   Enjoy your night with good friends!  

  • Good, good stuff, Jeff. I spent tonight with friends and couldn’t have had a better night! And I love that you used that cheesy 1990s song 🙂

  • I love this post, Jeff. We’ve been friends with our best “couple” friends for nearly 30 years now. There’s nothing like a long-term friendship — so meaningful, so sweet. Our kids, of course, joined this friendship as the years went on, and it’s been wonderful to see the bond grow to include them. Even now that our kids are away from home, these family friends of ours mean the world to them. Hope your friendship with Phil and Michelle will continue to grow sweeter and sweeter and last as long as ours has with our friends.  

  • I sent a text to all of my closest friends and told them I loved them. As girls, saying “love you” isn’t so weird, but I purposefully included the “I,” which is often left out. The “I” adds a deeper meaning to the phrase and hopefully showed them that I truly do love them. Like you said Jeff, isn’t not a day about romance, it’s a day about friendships.

  • I work in a retirement facility and sometimes on Valentine’s Day, children will bring candy, cookies, or handmade valentines. It makes the residents’ day. For most of them, the love of their life has been gone for years and to get a hug and a special card from someone means the world. 

    My husband gave me a good giggle on Valentine’s this year with my roses. The card said:

    To whom it may concern,
    Please enjoy these dead plants that men are required by law to send.
    Regards, Husband

  • Sounds lovely, Jeff. Unfortunately for us, if we take our friends we have to take four kids with us, since we’re default babysitters to each other. Maybe later. 🙂 Tonight we’re all sick anyway, so it’s The Aristocats for the kids followed by Love Actually for the adults.

  • Donna Freedman

    I was in an abusive marriage for a long time, then single for about six years. Miracle of miracles, an old friend turned into something much more. Now I understand what all those poets have been yapping about for all these years.
    If it’s kosher to post URLs, this one explains a little more about why we’re so happy:
    https://donnafreedman.com/2013/02/14/midlife-love-rocks-ask-me-how-i-know/
    We’re celebrating today the way we live most days: with love, bad puns llaughter, a home-cooked meal and the constant wonder that we ended up together. In short, we’ll recognize happiness the way we do the other 364 days of the year.
    Love is too important to relegate to a single square on the calendar. However, we DID each wish each other a happy Valentine’s Day.

  • Great post Jeff. Valentine’s day is just not for the lovers. It is all about you and your happiness. I have also wrote a post, where I have mentioned 2 creative ways to celebrate valentine day if you dont have any girlfriends. I hope you will love this as well.
    Let me mention some point here :
    1) Do a hard party,
    2) Do volunteering in charity organization
    3) Share your happiness with orphans….
    There are many more.. https://www.nextmashup.com/celebrate-valentines-day-if-you-are-single/

  • Leona Werezak

    What a refreshing way to look at Valentine’s Day–because everybody needs & wants to feel loved & wanted and they should be. This is what V-day should really be about. Spending it with your close friends is an awesome idea. Would be great if V-day became more like this kinda holiday going forward. Thanks for this inspiring idea on Valentine’s Day, Jeff! 🙂