Opinion | Valentine’s Day is not just for romantic love

Spend the romantic holiday saying “I love you” to people besides your partner.



Signe Nettum, Opinions Columnist

By middle school, I no longer enjoyed Valentine’s Day. It was not a fun craft day where each student made their little mailbox for other students to throw in their generic Valentine’s card with either a sticker or a piece of candy taped to it.

All of a sudden, I left the joyous wonder of elementary school and faced the idea of being single and not receiving either flowers or a card. The holiday no longer revolved around candy and communication. It was affirmations of affection and opinions on what you should do to show your partner you really loved them.

I never liked the idea that you had to spend Valentine’s Day with your romantic partner. Love comes in all shapes and sizes, and Valentine’s Day should include all those loves, not just romantic. Especially this year, two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when loved ones have not seen or interacted with each other in months, possibly years.

I have written about self-care on Valentine’s Day and making sure you have open communication with your partner. Now, I am taking it in a different direction.

This year, make your grandmother, or maybe your pet, your valentine. Two years into COVID-19, I have learned to no longer take time with relatives for granted. The birthday card my grandparents sent me absolutely made my day, and the silly one-word postcards from my mother currently hang on my apartment wall.

Get rid of the idea that you have to have a special dinner meal with your partner the night of Valentine’s Day. Instead, gather your roommates and have a movie marathon. If you are visiting family, celebrate with a large meal to bring everyone together. Yes, you can still invite your partner — finally introduce them to your parents.

When I return to my family a few days after Valentine’s Day, I plan to continue our tradition of homemade pizzas. It’s the one time a year where we get to go ham on toppings and cut them into hearts. I will not let college stop me from connecting with family this year.

If you do not want to have a gathering of friends, narrow it down to one or two. Make it a date night but with a friend or a family member. Go through all of the motions of a romantic date: dress up, bring gifts, and have a fancy lunch/dinner. I would love to take my grandmother out for a Valentine’s Day date if I had the time.

Here is more Anti-Valentine’s Day rhetoric: it is the small moments that matter. Call your parents or your friend and tell them you love them. Not just on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day puts too much pressure on people, showing love in special ways makes more of an impact than generic Valentine’s Day events.

If you are still looking for places and things to do around Iowa City, there are restaurants, hiking trails, and bookshops to take your loved one to for the afternoon or evening. St. Burch Tavern is always a nice place to eat. Terry Trueblood Recreation Center looks beautiful this time of year. Prairie Lights, a bookstore, is always a wonderful place to go, no matter the day.

If all else fails, and you cannot treat Valentine’s Day like a normal day, give yourself a break and treat yourself. Splurge on that Ben and Jerry’s, watch that rom-com on your laptop, and love yourself.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.