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Love and RomanceWho Needs Them? Even on Valentine's Day?

Date: 2007-01-17

As Valentine's Day comes around again, the words love and romance are very much in the air. Is this just an annual blip; a commercial hiccough in the unromantic, divorce ridden Western world? Or, is there always a need for love and romance in the lives of a modern man or woman?

Having been around since the middle of the last century, I have witnessed some rapid social changes which would suggest that both love and romance are far less important than they once might have been. The last 50 years have seen an inexorable rise in selfishness, fed by a commercially driven "must have" attitude; true love is selfless. So how can true love thrive in a world swamped by selfishness?

Admittedly, the odds against a lasting relationship have become increasingly overwhelming in some countries in recent years. And, as Shakespeare writes in his wonderful poem, "love is not love that alters when it alteration finds". If that is so, even when society appears to be stripping love of its importance, and fashions are diminishing love as a feature of modern life, true love will fend off those trends and fashions, and reign supreme.

A problem is, though, the herd mentality of a consumer society, where thinking and being different are not that common, dictates that most will follow whatever the fashion is. Divorce seemed to start as a Hollywood fashion a few decades ago, spread into mainstream American society like a plague, and onward across the Atlantic to the shores of the UK, where our equally herd like population quickly followed suit.

As divorce and living alone became as much the "norm" as being married and in a family, the colourful feathers of love and romance were being plucked. The proud peacock, and the peahen it was trying to impress, were left naked and hung out in their bare skin.

You can have love without marriage, of course, but the divorce statistics are a symptom of a society where love has lost its aura. At least, in public love has lost its aura. But in private, what are people yearning for? Divorce and other relationship break ups? Or a loving relationship in which true love can flourish without a care for what society and peers think?

As someone who writes full time for the internet, I get to regularly see statistics on what people are searching for online. They are a great indicator of what is on the minds of the population. The figures I see probably reflect half the searches done in the US, so these figures should be doubled to get an indication of the numbers making a particular search in the US.

The broadest search about love is, not surprisingly, "love", and my latest statistics show over 1.2 million people made that search last month. The next most popular related search with the word love in surprised me, and is "love poem". Now poetry is something I had thought was just about dead; far from it. However, it is perhaps something people like to keep to themselves. In fact, "love poem" is consistently one of the top searches on the internet. Last month it was, in my statistics, 328,000 followed by "love quote" with well over 200,000 searches.

Those stark statistics seem to reflect that, somewhere in the hearts of millions of Americans, and no doubt other nationalities too, lies a yearning for love and romance, even if it does go against the herd instinct. One day a new fashion will bring that back out into the open, and people will be more openly proud of being in love, and being happy again.

So when you are looking for those Valentine's Day gifts this year, buy from the heart and see if you can help to start a new trend. You never know what might happen. Once a critical mass appreciate love as being the most important thing in life, a new fashion will be born, and the rest of the herd will follow.

Well, it's a nice thought; but maybe not this year. You can still do your part, though. Approach Valentine's Day, and every other day, with an open heart, and see how the chemistry of love reacts in your life. Never mind what everyone else is doing.

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