I hope you had a good week, and a busy one, and this is a big week for some people, for many people: Valentine’s Day!!! My week is off to a great start: today, Monday, is the birthday of my youngest son, Maxx. He was the best Valentine’s Day gift, EVER!!! So Happy Birthday, Maxx!! We’ll be having dinner together tonight, with our family. And Friday will be a very big day for some people, and a lucky one. Valentine’s Day can go either way, it can be memorable and heartwarming, a non-event, or even heart-wrenching and disappointing. That all depends on who you love, and whether they come through and make an effort or not. This is a particularly interesting year for Valentine’s Day since it’s Leap Year, and according to tradition, a woman can propose to a man on Leap Day, February 29th (which only happens once every four years), so hang onto your hat, here comes Valentine’s Day.
I have always believed, particularly in my writing, that people haven’t changed in centuries, nor the issues that really matter to us: concern for our kids, the importance of our loves, our relationships, our worries about jobs, money, friends, family, health, the loss of loved ones, etc. The costumes may change over time, but the things we care about haven’t changed, although more complicated in modern times. It’s what makes my books timeless, because we care about all those same things, just as our ancestors did.
A couple of things have changed noticeably in very recent times, which make love, or relationships, challenging to find. It’s more about how we meet each other than how much we love each other. Most people today, especially ‘Millennials’ (in their twenties and thirties) want jobs with ‘flexible hours’, which means working all or mostly from home, which sounds cool at first, and has its definite downsides. It used to be when you went to school or university, you met and saw lots of people every day, the influx of people in your life was constant, lots of people in and out, and lots of opportunities to make new friends and fall in love. The same was true at work, depending on your job, there was a constant flow of new faces, new people, new opportunities. Today, many people get an education on line, and many, many people work from home. It’s considered desirable. No fuss, no muss, no bother, you don’t have to wear makeup, look nice or even comb your hair. You can work at home in your pajamas with your computer, but the downside to that is huge: you are isolated and alone, no new people in your life, or very few. And most communication happens by text now: so not even a human voice all day. The result is that many more people are depressed because of that isolation. And I know how challenging working like that is. Because I work at home in my pajamas too. It’s certainly convenient, and I get a lot of work done, but the isolation can be very challenging. And it’s not necessarily good for us when the only person we see all day is the Fed EX or UPS delivery person to sign for a package!!! And a big source of new people (and potential loves) is removed when you work at home. And there is no one there, not even a friend of the same sex or semi-stranger to say that you look great today, or even ask you how you are. We all need an influx of humans and human contact in our lives.
The second big change of style is again very typical of Millennials, but has spread to many/all generations. Since the traditional ways to meet people have changed (school and work), and computers and the Internet have taken over our lives, a LOT of people meet now on line. That is a HUGE change in our habits and mores now, for everything!!! You don’t have to go to a store, you can buy anything you want on line, from groceries to cars. You can find a new home, do all your shopping, meet a new person and fall in love, all on the Internet. I have personally always thought internet meeting and dating extremely dangerous—-there are some seriously terrifying, dangerous and even criminal people out there, and there is no screening process, you can meet an axe murderer—but you can meet scary people at a dinner party too, or on a bus. But what internet shopping and dating has changed is how we view the selection process. And I do know several people, at every age, who have met and married as a result of on line dating, and are very happy. But I’ve also watched people, again at every age, swipe their way through the process at full speed. This is a visual generation that moves fast, look, check out, like, don’t like, move on at lightning speed. It’s kind of a merciless unforgiving process….”Ugh….don’t like his/her ears….chin…nose….too fat…tooo short….too tall….looks dumb…yuk, bald….or weird hair….wrong neighborhood….” It sucks the humanity right out of human contact, I can’t even focus fast enough to make decisions that fast at the speed they do. You don’t hear a voice, you don’t see them move, you don’t feel that incredible flutter in your stomach when someone different and special walks into a room. If they don’t pass muster in a fraction of a second before you swipe on to the next one with better hair and a better chin, they’re dead in the water, and gone forever off your screen. I find that scary and incredibly limiting. It’s like shopping for fruit in the produce section….too soft, too hard, too green, too ripe….gone. Wow!!! You will never know who they really are at that kind of speed. While not wasting a second, we are losing life-altering opportunities. We learn to forgive people their funny ears, or thinning hair because they have qualities we learn to love, that just don’t show up between swipes in an 80th of a second. The three men I have loved, and was married to for a relatively long time in each case (9, 8, and 18 years) stopped me in my tracks when I met them, they each had something very special, an ephemeral quality, an unseen chemistry, and I knew each of them for a long time (years) before anything happened between us (but there was always that chemistry, that feeling that they were important and special to me, which eventually proved to be true, and I loved them deeply).
Relationships happen so fast now, they start while you’re internet shopping for them between swipes, begin by text, and often end by text just as quickly. In this case, I like the old style better, it’s way more romantic. And I’m sure people would swipe by me just as fast. Too fast for all of us. It eliminates that chemistry when you see them, meet them, and hear the sound of their voice, and everything depends on their nose, their chin, or the tee shirt they’re wearing in the picture (ugh, I hate that band!!), so you miss a great opportunity. Personally, I need human contact, chemistry, and lots of time to really get to know them before I love someone.
So that’s what you’re up against this Valentine’s Day, a lot more isolation these days, thus fewer opportunities, and you have to hope someone doesn’t swipe past your picture at full speed because you were having a bad hair day in the picture or wearing that sweater you knew you shouldn’t have bought but you did anyway. Or because the details about you don’t sound so great on paper (or on a screen), but you’re a fantastic love-worthy person!!!
I hope you get LOTS of chocolates and flowers—-I was proposed to twice on Valentine’s Day, and my youngest son proposed to his fiancée on Valentine’s Day. Those were the best ones ever for me, romantic and wonderful. And I’ve had my share of disappointing, lonely Valentine’s Days too, most of us have. I hope that this is your best one ever, that the person you love loves you equally, and is thoughtful and kind, and I hope all your dreams come true!!!
This Valentine’s Day and always, With lots of Valentine love to you, Danielle