Letting Romance Take a Back Seat Can Help Us All Feel the Love This Valentine's Day

by Donna Middleton

The words ‘Valentine’s Day’ are enough to summon a visceral full body shudder in many of us, but love is always worth celebrating in all its forms — except maybe snogging on the tube. 

All jokes aside, the focus on romantic love can make Valentine’s Day everything from intolerably cheesy to downright painful for some.

Many agonising core memories have surely been carved into our hearts on the 14th February, especially while feeling gawky, greasy and weird at high school with nobody to Choo-Choo-Choose us as their heart’s true desire. 

While romantic love (or Eros as the ancient Greeks knew it) has its own special sparkle, taking the time to notice all the wonderful subtle shades of love all around us can bring more well-rounded fulfilment. 

My dog, Tri$ha (show name Sugar Baby Love, to you) was born on Valentine’s Day and celebrating with her has helped me to meditate on the love which is all around us, if only we have our eyes tuned in to see it. 

Tri$ha's Valentines day duck à l'orange

Reflecting on the distinct ancient Greek words which have amalgamated together into the 4 letters of ‘love,’ can help highlight the multitude of ways we can feel the love this Valentine's Day, so take my hand (you know, in the friendly way) and let’s explore the tunnel of linguistic love. 





It’s such a shame agape is quite an ugly word, for a beautiful thing or perhaps it wouldn’t have all but died out of common usage. 

With meanings centring around the ever-present, background slow burn of love for a spouse (as opposed to the ripping their pants off sort, which would be a truly horrific permanent presence) or the love we have for dear friends, Agape is calm, placid and deep. 

Another explanation of Agape is “to will the good of another” in a selfless, charitable way. A random act of kindness to a stranger with the expectation of nothing in return is Agape in action. 




Philia now lives on the tail end of often unsavoury words to denote a love, liking or a tendency, but once upon a time it was the love of friendship and sisterhood. 

Philia is steady, virtuous and familiar and is often translated as “affection.” While philia is a broad sweep, it must be mutual, so a steady and familiar love for waffles or red velvet cake doesn’t belong in this category of love.

Aristotle said philia is essential for happiness as "no one would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other goods."

That galentines pizza date with your bestie on the sofa is a great example of philia and a celebration of the magic of friendship.




Sounding like a sort of drudgery, Storge is the common or natural empathy, like that felt by parents for their children. Interestingly, it is also used to describe acceptance or putting up with a situation, so perhaps it best applies to the love that parents have for their teenagers and vice versa. 

While Storge sounds like a bit of a bore, there is something powerful in the notion of radical acceptance around the realm of self love. I, for example, will literally never be a morning person. I used to beat myself up about it every single day as I failed to greet the sun with joy like a dewy morning lark. Now I’ve accepted it, I no longer even think about it and enjoy the velvety quiet of the nighttime instead. 

A spoonful of Storge can be helpful for any of us who are single and seeking on Valentine’s Day. Accepting your independence can help you lean in and enjoy all the other kinds of love on offer instead of flopping into mope town. 



Throwing on a frock which makes you feel a million dollars is the essence of Philautia

Speaking of self-love, Philautia brings the Johnathan Van Ness “yasssss kween” mirror selfie energy to the party. Self love can be both a holler, a whisper and everything in between, but most of us could do with a few extra gulps of it as a Valentine’s Day gift to ourselves. 

Whether it’s physical — like putting on our favourite dress for no reason at all — or mental — like cultivating a practice of self-compassion through consciously thinking kinder thoughts when we are struggling — a bit of Philautia is romancing our sweet selves. 

Think loving kindness meditation, allowing yourself the sweet indulgent time to do that favourite thing which always gets shunted to “later” or the indulgent face pack and pamper. 


Popular posts

Make British Winter More Bearable by Embracing Seasonal Living
Make British Winter More Bearable by Embracing Seasonal Living
The ever-rotating wheel of the seasons profoundly connects us to nature and weaves our lived experience into the infinite tapestry of time, but also, winter sucks. ...
Move Over Resolutions, 2024 is All About Setting Intentions and Here's Why
Move Over Resolutions, 2024 is All About Setting Intentions and Here's Why
There is something staunch about the word resolution which I have never really taken to (read; compulsively rebelled against), but there is another way to set...
Nobody Likes a Fashion Braggart, Especially the British
Nobody Likes a Fashion Braggart, Especially the British
The shimmering mirage of contrasts and contradictions which make up UK style are a slippery fish to grasp, but suspicion and ridicule of anything excessively boastful...
What is Transeasonal Fashion and Why Does it Matter?
What is Transeasonal Fashion and Why Does it Matter?
When the last throes of summery sunshine beam through the reddening leaves of Autumn, we have entered the in-between realm of transeasonal fashion. Despite what fashion...