Column: Adventures with Abby – Valentine’s day has drifted away from celebrating love

I’ll be the first to admit – I really don’t like Valentine’s Day. 

There are a number of thoroughly arbitrary reasons for my disdain for the holiday of love. 

First, I despise the color red. It’s loud. It’s angry. It upsets me in large quantities. Pink, as a variation of red, is almost as offensive. 

Second, Valentine’s Day’s commercialization drives me nuts. I can’t walk into Walmart without feeling claustrophobic from the mountains of stuffed animals, heart-shaped candies and balloons.

I know those are both ridiculous reasons to dislike Valentine’s Day, but I think my frustration with the holiday’s commercialization at least stems from a deeper and truly concerning issue: Does Valentine’s Day have anything to do with love anymore?

Every secular TV show, movie or comic strip portrays Valentine’s Day as either a day celebrating premarital sex or a day where husbands appease their wives’ wrath by half-heartedly presenting them with gifts. 

Even among Christian circles, Valentine’s Day doesn’t truly celebrate love. 

Pressure to have a boyfriend, girlfriend or — better yet — a fiancé to take on a date extensively documented on social media grips our campus every February. 

Please don’t misunderstand me – I don’t begrudge anyone going on a nice date or giving little gifts to their significant others to show their love. I’m just not convinced that most people truly do those things out of love on Valentine’s Day. Instead, they operate under a mountain of societal pressure to conform to the commercialized Valentine’s Day standard. 

Every person – and consequently every couple – has different personalities, foibles, phobias and love languages. Why should every person or couple celebrate Valentine’s Day the same way? 

Spoiler alert: They shouldn’t. 

Dr. Gary Chapman’s love languages are an excellent tool for showing love well and avoiding cultural pressure on Valentine’s Day. 

For example, if your significant other’s predominant love language is words of affirmation and you take them out to dinner, they will probably appreciate it but won’t feel particularly loved in the way they most desire. 

If, on the other hand, you take them to dinner and give them a hand-written note detailing every endearing thing about them, they will treasure it forever. 

In order to make this work, it is imperative that you know your significant other’s love languages. If you’ve been with someone for a long time, you probably know how they give and receive love already, no doubt learned through a series of disappointing Valentine’s Days and miscommunication. 

However, if this is your first Valentine’s Day together, you might just have to ask. Though this might not sound particularly romantic, it’s better to have someone ask me than have them go through the effort of putting together a celebration that I have to work to enjoy. 

This opens up an entire realm of Valentine’s Day shenanigans. Neither you nor your significant other enjoys giving or receiving gifts but you both adore quality time? Great, take a hike together or go to a trampoline park. Do you like acts of service? One person cooks a meal then the other does the dishes. 

If both people in a relationship work to show each other affection in the way the other person best receives it without any thought of societal norms, then maybe Valentine’s Day will truly celebrate love. 

Bowman is the opinion editor. Follow her on Twitter.


  • Must agree!
    For Valentine’s this year My husband made me a beautiful shoe rack for our closet…:O
    Much needed.
    Certainly an act of love.
    TRUE (AGAPE) Love is giving without EXPECTING or NEEDING anything in return. OOF!
    Let’s use this Feb. 14th to see how we measure up against that!

  • I agree that you should ask what your significant other prefers for Valentine’s Day celebrations/what their love language is. I don’t know when our culture decided we shouldn’t talk to our partners about what they like… that’s truly the only way to get to know someone. Ask away!

  • You did a wonderful job writing this article.

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