What is love, anyway?

As I am sure you all know, yesterday was Valentine’s Day. A day marked out around the world to celebrate love and romance. It can involve simple gestures, from a kiss or back-rub, to spending a month’s salary on a weekend break to Paris. In fact it was the French who started the tradition of sending cards and they still see February 14th as the best day for a marriage proposal.

If you are in Italy, the strength of your love can be measured by the size of the box of chocolates you exchange with your loved one, but it is us Brits who favour the anonymity of the secret admirer when sending cards to the object of our affection.

Not everyone is a fan of course and if the mere mention of Valentine’s Day, or the commerciality it attracts, makes you feel anything but loved-up, then perhaps a move to Saudi Arabia, where Valentine’s Day is banned all together, could be on the cards? In fact, as the day after Christmas Day has its own special name, then perhaps the day after Valentine’s Day, for many of us, could be called ‘Air of Disappointment Day’?

If your Valentine’s Day this year was empty of any of the grand gestures we wrote about on Wednesday and was more about last-minute flowers from the all night garage, it might not be all bad. Even if your candle-lit dinner for two ended up as a fish-finger butty in front of Corrie, by the dim light of the low-energy bulb that takes a week to warm up, all may not be lost.

Okay, so we’re all about the romance here, being writers in that genre, but today we’re asking the really big question, which perhaps has a lot less to do with romance than you might imagine, – what is love, anyway?

I challenged my fellow Write Romantics to come up with their definitions of love for this most romantic of weeks. It inspired a badly-drawn cartoon on my part, as homage to both my lovely Write Romantic friends and the old Love Is cartoons from my youth. If you look at the WR’s responses at the end of this post, I think you’ll agree that love manifests itself in many forms and most of them have very little to do with setting aside the 14th day of February to write it high.


For me, love is about putting someone else’s needs at least as highly as, if not above, your own. Taking that definition, I could see a hundred acts of love going on yesterday, without even trying. Here are just three:

  • People putting themselves out for total strangers during the floods – from helping with the rescue operations, to pumping out the flood waters and even offering a roof and a warm bed.
  • A living organ donor, waiting in pre-op, to give a life changing new start to another stranger, matched only by tissue type, for entirely altruistic reasons
  • The twin who gave up her place on the US Winter Olympics team, to let her sister compete in the 15k individual race on Valentine’s Day, as only one of them could.

Life may not be made up of romantic gestures, but whatever Valentine’s Day brought you, in the words of my favourite Rom-Com writer, Richard Curtis, I think you’ll find that love actually is all around.

There are a million ways to celebrate love and three hundred and sixty four days a year on which to do it. So, even if you don’t have a reason to celebrate romance this year, be it on February 14th or some other day that’s special to just the two of you, then take a leaf out of the Estonians’ book and rename it ‘Friends Day’ next time around.

Happy Air of Disappointment day everyone. Count your blessings and don’t book that plane ticket to Saudi Arabia just yet. At least not until you’ve checked out The Write Romantics definitions of love below!
Jo xx

Love is… cleaning my car inside and out, waxing and polishing it when I’m in the hospital because he can’t find the words to tell me how worried he is.

Love is… when he scratches your back then doesn’t expect his scratched in return
Love is… when he lets you put your cold feet on his warm legs in bed
Love is… when he doesn’t moan that you spend most evenings apart because he knows how important it is to you to spend your evenings writing

Love is… letting him read the kindle with your favourite book on it.
Love is… buying him a book you know he won’t be able to put down all weekend, because it was written by one of The Write Romantics

Helen P
Love is… a husband who brings you coffee and the last creme egg from the box

Love is… never having to say you’re sorry!

Love is… him googling for the cutest cat pictures and leaving them on the screen for me to find.

Helen R
Love is… like superglue – no matter what happens, what storms come your way, you always stick together.

12 thoughts on “What is love, anyway?

  1. Awh, fabulous ideas of what love is, Ladies! I love Valentine’s day and did great this year, but my best friend hates it and thinks it’s all a con. So I can definitely see both sides of the coin! Another fab post. Meg xoxo

  2. “Love is… him googling the cutest cat pictures and leaving them on the screen for me to find.” I really don’t think it gets any better than that! Deirdre and I are kindred spirits.

    I think Love is… 24/7, even when there’s a little bit of spite or anger or just-leave-me-alone’s. You love who you love… family, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends. Love is love.


    • I totally agree, Jenny, and I think it is with the ones we love that we can really be ourselves – even if that means showing a flash of anger or leave-me-alone, as you so rightly say. Just off to check out your blog now and hunt for some cute cat pictures! Thanks for posting. Jo 🙂

  3. Banned in Saudi? What’s that all about?! Great post, Jo, and brilliant to hear what goes on around the world. I do like a bit of romance but have to admit that I would hate to go out for a meal on Valentine’s Day surrounded by other couples because I do find the “enforced romance” a little tricky to stomach. I remember being away on business once on Valentine’s Day and ending up eating a McDonalds in my hotel room because the hotel restaurant was packed with couples and I felt my table for one would be lowering the tone!
    Julie xx

  4. I remember being most put out when myself and a friend went to our regular Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, Melbourne…usually we would be seated at our regular table only for the waiter to reel off our usual order: crispy duck, sweet and sour pork, egg fried rice, bottle of red…anyway, we were most distressed when on “smug married day”/ Valentine’s Day we were turned away!! ( we were both single at the time).

    Helen R x

    • Oh Helen, that’s horrible! I hope you changed to a new regular haunt after that? I recently went out for an Indian meal with a friend and we were eventually asked to leave, because we carried on chatting for far too long after we’d finished our meal! x

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