09/02/2017 08:34 GMT | Updated 10/02/2018 05:12 GMT



As Valentines approaches that impending dread creeps upon us; will I get a card? Does anyone love me? Thousands of people up and down the country will be feeling one way or another utterly shit next week. Either because they don't get a card/present/laid (delete as appropriate), provoking an existential internal turmoil which is often spilled out into external expressions of grief and anger or because they feel pressurized to demonstrate affection in a way they just aren't vibing.

Ever bought a crappy card for someone because you felt you had to rather than wanted to? It's like when you are two dates in and you aren't really sure if you even like that person yet, never mind love them, Christ you don't even know them. How can you love someone you don't even know? It's a kind of pre-requisite right? The pressure of meeting someone just before Valentine's totally sucks! The pressure of Valentines when you've been with someone a while and it's on it's way out possible sucks even more. It kinda brings all the ills of the relationship into sharp focus. Ever sat through a mediocre over-priced meal, pretending to enjoy an atmosphere so fake it makes your skin crawl? Yup, guilty as charged. Why do we put ourselves through it?

February 14th is a wretched time of the year. Call me a cynic but it's got to be about the most row provoking moment aside Christmas in the calendar year. It's not about love, it's about money. It's a revenue generating construct exploited by the marketing men. Don't feel bad if you don't give or receive a gift, see it for what it really is. Bullshit. Utter bullshit.

Love doesn't happen on one day of the year. Getting a card doesn't validate a person. Second thought presents never make the recipient feel good, they can always tell, so save your cash and inject a bit of thought. Superficiality is not love. Love isn't grand gestures or big statements. Great sex helps, but alone it isn't love, it's just great sex. Acknowledge the difference. That's why so many torrid affairs end in tears. Great sex with someone you don't really like and being physically repulsed by the ones you do is one of life's great mysteries. Hormones have a lot to answer for.

Love is patient, love is gentle, love is kind, love whirrs away quietly in the background unconditionally. Love forgives, but it does not self-sacrifice. There are no brownie points for being a martyr in a relationship, that just pisses people off. Balance is key, as is communication. It needs to be constructive, considerate and kind. So many people don't communicate their needs or do so aggressively and then wonder why they are not met. It's unfair to expect the object of your desire to be a mind reader, you will set them up to fail.

Love certainly is not based on expectations. No one has the right to expect love because of something they have said or done. It isn't a trophy. Life your life as who you are, not who you think others want you to be. Be comfortable with that. Give because you want to and because it gives you pleasure to do so. The reward is in the giving, not in the reaction of the recipient.

Love isn't conditional or judgmental. Love is about accepting a person in their entirety for who they are, not for what you want them to be or for what they have done or achieved. If you want to change something about someone else, maybe it's time you looked within and ask what it is you are lacking in yourself.

Certainly love starts from within. If you don't feel love deep within your own soul then your perceived love for someone else will be nothing more than projection, a fantasy and you'll be left sorely disappointed.

You'll never attract love if you don't know what it is. Love is never about just one person. It's a way of life, an attitude and spiritual awareness. I don't believe love can exist in absence of these things.

Time is a big element of understanding love. Love happens, but not in your time. It isn't a commanding orchestra. It happens when it's ready. It cannot be speeded up or slowed down. Sometimes it's time bound. Sometimes love is fleeting. Like trying to catch a butterfly, sometimes it just flies away. But rather than seeing it as a loss, see it for the lessons and experience it brought. Sometimes love isn't meant to last. Ever heard the phrase "sometimes love is there for a reason, season or forever"? We never really know which of these a person will be to us, that's why it's important to just let it be.