“Where are the ones?”: A Valentine’s Day retrospective

Image by Samantha Phan of the UCSD Guardian using Canva
Image by Samantha Phan of the UCSD Guardian using Canva

Have you ever wondered why, these days, it doesn’t feel possible to find love or meet the right person? Sick of dating apps, tired of never-ending first dates, and over being an option instead of a priority? Or alternatively, you might realize that whenever you have a good relationship and a beautiful love life, you begin to attract more potential partners like never before. In short, if you had a tumultuous Valentine’s Day this year, you are not alone. So, with another February 14 under our belt, it’s time to ask why finding love in the modern age is harder than it ever has been.

To start, I would like to go back in time. Not just to last week but even further — the very first Valentine’s Day. The holiday originated with the ancient Roman fertility festival Lupercalia, celebrated around mid-February. To begin the festival, priests would go inside a cave and sacrifice animals for fertility and purity. It was often believed that if women touched the hides, they would be more fertile for the upcoming year. Young women would then write their names and put them in an urn from which bachelors chose a woman to be paired with for that year, this coupling often resulting in marriages. 

One later story suggests that when marriages were outlawed for young men in Rome due to military responsibilities, Valentine, a priest, was secretly helping to perform marriages for young couples. Another story suggests that Valentine was the first person to send a “Valentine greeting,” February 14 being celebrated to commemorate his martyrdom. It is believed that this is how Lupercalia was eventually Christianized. 

Though our needs haven’t changed much since ancient times, our modern lifestyles greatly differ, making mating and forming a family harder than ever. Many of us are busy with our academic and work lives, always in a rush. So, generally speaking, it may feel like falling in love and creating a family is not a priority anymore.

With technology, it is harder to meet people the natural way because everyone is too busy with their phones, neglecting their real life. Dating apps are a part of the issue. Though some sources point to successful dating app stories, I feel that they make dating more difficult. For example, everyone who is using the app is accessible worldwide, the excess amount of candidates causing decision paralysis. It is also easy to fall into the cycle of soulless texting, making it much easier to bring out the bad manners you’d never enact in real life, like ghosting. 

Throwaway culture is also an issue. During our parents’ time, repairing and fixing were incredibly important. Today, however, many modern societies replaced those values with throwing away and buying something new. Unfortunately, this also applies to relationships: people tend to change their partners instead of improving themselves or their partnerships. Because we have access to millions of people online, jumping from one person to the next has never been easier.

The rise of technology has not only made dating harder; it has also damaged our relationship with ourselves. For example, social media has caused some of us to forget what we enjoy and instead love what’s popular and give value to others’ opinions more than our own. This also relates to our relationships, alienation causing people to try meeting their partner’s needs before even knowing their own, or trying to love somebody else before loving themselves.

The truth is, we are the ones who are going to be there for ourselves, no matter what, for the rest of our lives. Fortunately, concepts like self-love and self-care are getting more popular every day. While therapy may not be affordable for everyone, there are alternative ways you can teach yourself these two important concepts. Some examples include self-improvement books, podcasts, YouTube channels, meditation, and journaling. Once we get to know ourselves better, it will be easier to set boundaries, learn to say “no” if needed, and be open to harmonious partnerships. 

As we fall in love with ourselves and enjoy our own company more every day, we’ll realize that we are also attracting more love from the outside into our lives. The confidence that comes with a successful relationship may lead to you attracting more potential partners into your lives with your aura. And it’s definitely possible to lift up your aura on your own since you are a whole unique being yourself.

So, if you spent your Valentine’s Day alone, don’t be too upset. While rituals and relationships are fun, the most important thing you can do is fall in love with yourself. As Diane von Furstenberg once said, “The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. After that any other relationship is a plus and not a must.”

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