More and more Americans refer to themselves today as 'lonely,' from Millennials and Gen-Z'ers who spend more time staring at their phones than meeting people in real life, to seniors who have seen spouses and close friends die or retire and move away. So is it time that we rethought the idea of 'Valentine's Day?'
That idea is gaining traction among psychologists and therapists who spend a lot more time dealing with 'Valentine's Day Depression,' which has become more common than 'Holiday Depression' over Christmas accord to a recent study.
The reason, gaudy images on ads and in 'rom-com' movies which portray bubbly couples, usually embracing over whatever product the advertiser wants to sell them, leads to a dark mood among Americans who have lost a love or have been unable to find that 'special someone,' and they are a big time turn off to Millennials who have decided to delay or forego a relationship in favor of career advancement and other opportunities.
Clinical psychologist Michael Shea is among those suggesting that 'Valentine' Day' be 'rebranded' as an occasion not just to recognize 'romantic love,' but also for us to honor friends, parents, children, and others who have made a difference in our lives.
"What we have to start to recognize is where love exists in our life beyond romantic," he told News Radio 1200 WOAI. "Like friends, family, co-workers, somebody who mentors us."
Shea says Valentine's Day can even honor the loves of all types that made us what we are today.
"I actually do a group with people who are ageing with wisdom and grace, and I invite them to take a look at where love has existed in their live, and celebrate that love with a story or a memory."
Valentine's Day, which is named for two Christian martyrs designated as St. Valentine, and Christian tradition holds that St. Valentine of Rome presented cut out hearts to Roman soldiers and Christians to remind them of God's love, hence the connection with love and the heart. While references to love in connection with St. Valentine's Day appear as far back as Chaucer and Shakespeare, it was 20th Century card companies, florists,and other enterprises which created the image of today's holiday as a day to celebrate romantic, heterosexual love mainly among young people.
But Shea says that image can change, to become more inclusive in an age of creeping lonieliness. He says it can be adjusted to allow us to use the day to connect not just with sexual love, but with the love that sustains and guides us.
"Celebrate love with people like a child says say, 'I an really grateful for how you have been in my life. It is an amazing experience'."