It’s Not All Candy Hearts, but Love Is Sweet

broken-heart-valentine-0213135February 14 provokes many feelings in people throughout the world. For some, it is the official day of romance. For others, it’s a commercial holiday, one more way for consumers to be exploited. Others experience this day as a painful reminder of their loneliness. The one thing we can all agree on is that February 14 is associated with love.

What is love, anyway? Is it feelings of butterflies in your stomach? The desire you feel to spend time with the person who has become the focus of your affection? Is it a biological reaction to pheromones and oxytocin? Although all of those things may play a role in love, it would be hard to reduce the experience of love to one simple component.

While love can be romantic, exciting, joyful, and exhilarating, those are only some facets of love. It is not always walks on the beach at sunset and dancing with ecstasy. Love, like all facets of life, cannot always be perfect or ideal. Sometimes love is being silent when you’d rather scream. Sometimes love is waking up early to make breakfast for your lover when you would rather sleep. Sometimes love is going to a play you don’t really want to see or a sporting event for a team you don’t like, simply because your partner enjoys that activity. Love is not merely a feeling; it must also be a choice.

Rollo May once said: “Intimacy requires courage because risk is inescapable. We cannot know at the outset how the relationship will affect us. Like a chemical mixture, if one of us is changed, both of us will be. Will we grow in self-actualization, or will it destroy us?” Whenever we are presented with the opportunity to love or be loved, we are setting out on an unknown and uncharted course. We are launching out into the great frontier without a map, with only our hearts to guide us. We are stripping away our defenses and protective barriers and allowing ourselves to be “naked and unashamed.” When we are loving, we are vulnerable. Being open to allowing love to pierce our existence also means that we are open to be pierced by pain, suffering, agony, and despair. What fills me with wonder is that we never know how our particular story might end and yet we continue to be willing to reach out and try.

If I could have one wish this Valentine’s Day, it would be for an awakening to happen; that people would realize that love, as Maroon 5 reminds us, is “not always rainbows and butterflies,” but that no matter if one falls flat on his or her face or soars with the birds, the experience of love is always worth it. I would also wish that those who have had their hearts broken and trampled would not allow that experience to shut them off or change them negatively, but that they can see that the broken heart simply allows for expansion. I wish that the courageous remnant willing to risk loving another would begin taking tentative steps toward one another in a gentle reaching, seeking the deeper connection we all crave.

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Lisa M. Vallejos, PhD, LPC, therapist in Denver, Colorado

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Noelle

    February 13th, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    My wish for valentines day would be for us to love ourselves in that way that we wish that someone else would, because we can never experience the true love from others until we are willing to give that same kind of love to ourselves.

  • alan

    February 13th, 2013 at 11:46 PM

    having been single for two years on V day has made no difference to me.not because I don’t value love enough but because I realize that when I do have love again it will all be worth it.being single is no big deal either, it will only better the feeling when I do find the one.

    we could all do so much more if we viewed things positively.for me that’s just a pursuit in everyone,to be positive is to look ahead and determine rather than to look back and cry(not that we cannot learn from the past).

  • Martha

    February 14th, 2013 at 3:52 AM

    It makes me sad when I think about all of the people who are unwilling to open their hearts and their minds to loving and being loved because they are afriad of being hurt. Yes, love does sometimes hurt but if you are willing to embrace it for all of the good then it can be all worth it in the end, what you receive and the love that you are willing to give. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Stacy

    February 14th, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    I personally have given up on loving another person for good. Exactly how many times can I be expected to turn the other cheek? I am going to spend the rest of my days concentrating on loving myself and helping others.

  • Wanda

    February 14th, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    For a long time, I have felt guilty that I have been so lucky in love. I have been with my husband since I was 16 years old. We did break up once for a weekend when I was 16 1/2 but that’s it. People are always making me feel guilty about having a good, easy relationship. I don’t know what I did to deserve it, but my guess is nothing. I think sometimes things just happen for some people and not for others.

  • Wallace G

    February 14th, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    Hey, Wanda. You might want to go back and reread that part where the author talks about not knowing how the story is. You ain’t dead yet, so maybe that easy relationship you are so high and mighty about will come crashing down around your pretty little head. You never know what your husband is doing when he is not with you.

  • b morris

    February 14th, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    Okay, Wallace G. Take it easy. True love does exist and it is made to withstand a lifetime. Who are you to say that Wanda’s love won’t last until they day she or her husband dies? Shame on you for being so negative. Just because you may have had a bad experience doesn’t mean everyone will. Maybe is you concentrate on being more positive, the love you deserve will come into your life without any effort at all on your part. Be sure to love everything about yourself and the right girl (or guy) will come along for you.

  • Angie

    February 14th, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    The rest of that Maroon 5 verse-it’s only compromise that moves us along. Also very important in the discussion about love.

  • jared

    February 14th, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    love has a million definitions but the feeling Incan never be precisely defined.if you are willing to put the other person ahead of yourself and their interests ahead of yours then that is love.there are many other things that may define love for different people but the common aspect is being loved and loving at the same time,it’s something so easy to feel yet so hard to put on paper.

  • maritza

    February 15th, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    Only some people knows the true meaning of love. Or true love if I may. I have been hurt enough but still yearn for my true love. I’m scared but know deep inside somewhere out there I will meet him, eventually

  • Christopher

    February 14th, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    One bad experience should not make your view of love or the day itself a bad thing. It is never a good thing to let one incident spoil it all for you. That speaks of how you need to open up in fact.

    I have been hurt before and I have cried on Valentina’s day before.But that will not deter me.That will not come in my way of pursuing love,of seeking that special one.Stay strong people!

  • carson

    February 15th, 2013 at 3:53 AM

    I don’t see the point of only taking one day to show your love to someone. Show it every day.

  • Mal

    February 15th, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    They say to gain something you have to lose something.This is true in case of love too.Not that you have to lose something per se but adjustments have to be made.It could be forgoing your favorite show on TV to let you partner watch his/her, or it could be holidaying in a place you don’t like best.

    But adjustments are always a part of life.They will have to be made anyway,so if you’re gaining love in the course of it then why not?!

  • Georgia

    February 17th, 2013 at 5:47 AM

    Is Valentine’s Day some big worldwide holiday? Seriously I just thought that it was a ploy by the American greeting card, floral, and candy industries to collude and make a little more money off poor schmucks who think that they have to wait until a special day to tell someone that they love them.

  • Howard Tonkin

    February 19th, 2013 at 1:18 AM

    ‘love rises in emotion and falls in passion’

  • rosalyn

    February 19th, 2013 at 11:50 PM

    no matter what emotions Valentines day brings out, I believe we can all make it work in a positive way for us. my husband passed away on Valentines day years ago. but it is not a day for me to cry or feel bad about. now every Valentines day I focus on revisiting the great days of love we had together and a visit to his grave makes it soothing for me. its a day of love alright. so what if I’ve suffered a loss, I can still love him and contribute the day to my life in a positive way.

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