Are you excited for Valentine's Day? If you answered no, then you're probably a man -- according to statistics, anyway. The majority of men don't see the point of Valentine's Day, 59% to be precise. Moreover, when we conducted our own survey, we discovered that the majority of women -- even though they may tell their significant other otherwise -- would like a little bit more effort from their Y-chromosome wielding partner.
So what's happening to romance, especially romance among men? Where are the Casanovas and Lord Byrons of the 21st Century? The E.E Cummings who carry our hearts, or even the John Cooper-Clarkes asking to be our electric meters ("I will not run out, let me be your electric heater, you'll be cold without...")?
With so much else happening in the world, you might ask why should we care about a Hallmark holiday? Well, it's about more than the cards and chocolates. Love should be brought back into our lives, and we can start this February. Here's not just the how, but the why.
Where's the Love in the World?
With Trump's rise to power replacing arguably one of the strongest marriages ever seen in the White House, that of Obama and Michelle, love really does seem to be disappearing from the world. Never mind loving one other person, even the request to love thy neighbour seems to have been ignored. From walling away Mexico, to Britain leaving the EU, love is everything but all around us in 2017.
Cynicism about love is even being pumped into us by the media. Celebrities go through marriages faster than most people go through clean underwear, which considering that the cult of celebrity has always stemmed from our human desire for role models is worrying. Are we teaching our children, and ourselves, that marriage doesn't last? Is our cult of celebrity, where they declare grand and everlasting love until someone newer and shinier comes along, influencing our own love lives?
What Can We Do to Change This, and Why Should We?
There's a common fear beginning to develop that we're spending so much time online, we're losing our ability to engage with the world. Celebrity culture, social media, and dating apps give the false impression that relationships are disposable, as we become saturated with choice. In his book Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari talks to men who have become as unenthused by the prospect of a date with a new woman as they would be by talking out the recycling. We are so bound up by defining ourselves as individuals through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that we forget to take time to appreciate the individual qualities of another person, and why they're special.
The world is, hopefully, starting to change, though. All is not lost. Professional dating agencies are on the rise once more to try and bring back matching because of goals, aspirations, and interests rather than looks or computer algorithms. Companies encourage their employees to switch off at weekends, and digital detox holidays are becoming increasingly popular. We need to reconnect with other individuals -- not only for love and relationships, but simply to regain our empathy for other human beings, animals, and the planet.
Science Has Confirmed It: Love Makes Us A Better Person
This theory that being able to love increases our ability to be a better and more moral human being isn't simply a hypothesis. Southwest University in China conducted a study between three groups of people. People in love, people who'd just been broken up with, and people who'd never been in love. They then MRI scanned all of their brains while they looked at pictures of their partners or ex-partners. Those who were in love showed increased brain activity in the areas responsible for regulating motivation, reward, social cognition, and emotions. Not only that, but the longer they'd been in love, the more brain activity they showed.
Away from the study, if you look around you and observe the patterns of yourself and your friends, you can see this proved time and time again in real life. Dating agencies for professionals in London show that career-driven people looking for relationships do better in their careers once they have a loving relationship supporting them. If we love and admire someone, it's only natural that we want them to be proud of us. Having someone around us so much, who we allow to gain such an intimate understanding of who we are and how we function, gives us a permanent moral compass to base our actions off.
Is love doomed, and will it bring down our planet with us? It's time that we switched off and reconnected with the part of our soul that wants to serenade someone, time that we experienced sweaty palms and goosebumps, and time that we doodled sonnets on our note pads. Maybe love can't save the world, but celebrating Valentine's Day this year is a good place to start.