April Davis

What is love? Not much to do with Valentines day…

No longer the sex festival it once was, as Valentines Day soars towards us on the wings of Cupid, April Davis asks the obvious question – “What is love?”

 

What is love?

This question has been asked a thousand times over, but no concrete answer has ever been given. Evolutionary psychologists have theorised it was a survival mechanism that promoted interdependence and parental responsibility. Neurochemists have discovered it makes us high on endorphins and natural happy drugs. German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer believed that  “love is an illusion like no other; it will induce a man to sacrifice everything he possesses in the world, in order to obtain this woman, who in reality will satisfy him no more than any other.” He claimed it’s an essential illusion, tricking men into believing they’re in love, when they’re really just working to preserve our species. Psychologists have claimed love is a combination of intimacy, passion, and commitment. M. Scott Peck wrote in his self-help classic ‘The Road Less Travelled” that falling in love is not actually love, but a “temporary” and “sex-linked erotic experience.”

Others think it’s a load of crap.

So what the hell is it? Better yet, why do we have a whole day to celebrate it?

Valentines Day actually stems from a holiday celebrated by the Romans. In short, between February 13th and 15th a “match making” fete would be held. Everyone would participate in a “lottery” where young men literally drew a woman’s name from a jar, and would then spend the duration of the festival with that woman in a very adult manner. The name Valentine is believed to stem from two men, both named Valentine, who were executed by Emperor Claudius II on February 14th. The Catholic Church chose to honour these men and their martyrdom with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day.

Nowadays, Valentines Day is hardly one big sex festival and our concept of love is very different to good old St Valentine.

In one regard, Valentines Day is a commercial scheme: film makers make sappy romantic movies for the holiday, florists put the prices of roses from $20 a bunch to $20 a stem and men are expected to buy their female companions overpriced chocolates and teddy bears. Media outlets deem it the day to “declare your affection for that special someone.”

So, what is love? Is it an illusion? Or a feeling that promotes the continuity of the human race? Honestly, it’s probably a combination of this and a feeling that just makes us feel pretty darn good. We have an innate need for sex…and companionship, and love gives us these things. It gives us a sense of devotion, trust, companionship and happiness, and of course, it allows us to fulfill our desires to grow old with someone and have a family with them.

To the cynics out there, love and Valentines Day may as well be a steaming heap of shit because it’s a commercial enterprise and nothing more. They role their eyes at the “illusion” of love and find their sexual gratification elsewhere, minus the concept of romantic endeavours.

Is either party right? Truthfully, we’ll probably never know. It’s taken centuries and all we’ve come up with is a pile of conflicting views and theories. Then again, it doesn’t really matter whose right or whose wrong because at the end of the day we’re all going to have different beliefs no matter what we’re told, or what’s scientifically proven. Valentines Day may be a load of crap, but if it’s your thing, then go for it, if it’s not, be a hermit for the day. There’s no rule saying everyone has to participate.

April Davis

April Davis, a young Melbourne-based writer finishing a degree in professional writing and publishing, is an aspiring novelist flirting with the idea of historical fiction. She spends most of her time reading, writing and contributing book reviews to online publications.

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