Lizzie Marvelly is a musician, writer and activist, she writes columns for Weekend Herald.

Lizzie Marvelly: Here's to love of the slow-blooming kind

The teddies and cupids Valentine’s Day brings are vile but dedicating a day to romance is still a lovely idea.
There's something to be said for little romantic gestures rather than asking someone for sex using an acronym. Photo / 123RF
There's something to be said for little romantic gestures rather than asking someone for sex using an acronym. Photo / 123RF

Problematic though it is, Valentine's Day makes me feel nostalgic.

I may possess an enduring resentment of Hallmark et al's habit of vomiting love hearts, cupid arrows and teddy bears wherever there's a chance they'll catch a consumer's eye, but I will grudgingly admit that I like the idea of a holiday dedicated to the celebration of love.

In some ways, I think it has taken on a new significance in the digital age.

I've been lucky enough to receive a few Valentine's Day presents over the years, both before and after Tinder.

One that notably stands out was an hour-long mash-up mix (or medley, for the non-millennials out there) of the greatest hits of early 2000s hip-hop, presented on a CD (remember those?) with a box of chocolates.

The romance in question may have long since withered, but I'll always think fondly of the man who spent hours collating my beloved, if largely critically butchered, guilty favourites.

While the dulcet tones of Ja Rule may not sound particularly romantic to some, namely those who weren't raised in Rotorua around the turn of the millennium, the time, thought and effort that went into assembling them meant the world to me.

In an age when "dtf?" (down to ... you get the idea) delivered via smartphone stands substitute for the hallowed, heady first "hello" with depressing frequency, I've recently found that such displays of thoughtfulness are increasingly on the wane.

Don't worry, I'm not about to launch into a(nother) treatise on the perils of Tinder.

I swore off the app a few months ago, after one particularly illuminating, and thus short-lived, relationship. But I do wonder whether, in some ways, our grandparents had it right.

Whatever happened to romance? Love letters? Dancing? When did passion become something we felt most comfortable expressing by means of emoji.

The idea of courting may sound cloyingly quaint these days but, when you're looking for more than casual sex, the notion of really getting to know someone before jumping into bed with them still has its merits.

I'm not talking about grand gestures, either. It costs very little to go for a stroll or a picnic. In my experience, it's often the most inexpensive gestures that speak the most loudly.

While I'm a staunch advocate for sexual freedom, and I know people whose rapid romances have turned into lifelong loves, I sometimes wonder whether in our quest to liberate ourselves we might've razed the fortress with the jewels still inside.

Don't get me wrong: chaperones, child brides, cradle-side betrothals, legal rape and abuse, rigid gender roles, judgemental morality and rampant tuberculosis had to go, but, in my humble opinion, the idea that friendship can make a great precursor to a relationship deserves another chance.

I'm not pointing the finger solely at millennials.

I've seen plenty of what I'll term ''real adults'' blast through a whirlwind dalliance only to end up dejected and jaded six weeks later.

So this year, amid the nostalgia, I'm celebrating the kind of love that slowly emerges between friends, and making a pact to remember this newfound, age-old wisdom.

It's easy to lust after someone, but much more difficult to like them. And I've never seen one of the two turn into abiding love without the other.

It's a lesson I wish I'd learnt much earlier.

For those of us who grew up watching the women from Sex And The City and internalised the ''third date rule'' as gospel, taking the time to slowly get to know someone is something of a heterodox suggestion.

It may seem baffling that it's taken me so long to stumble upon this particular realisation, but guess what? It turns out that I'm generally not all that jazzed about having sex with someone I'm not sure I like.

Revolutionary.

So this year, amid the nostalgia, I'm celebrating the kind of love that slowly emerges between friends, and making a pact to remember this newfound, age-old wisdom.

Sadly, it won't work for everyone. It almost certainly won't work for those apparently incapable of displaying the level of respect required to form a friendship.

Indeed, what discussion about love in the digital age would be complete without mention of the internet's most infamous love-seekers? This Valentine's Day, we should really spare a thought for the trolls.

It's not often I feel a sense of compassion for so-called Men's Rights Activists, Meninsts or other perpetually threatened groups of vitriol-spewing man-babies, but I can only imagine how difficult Valentine's Day must be for them.

If, by some divine miracle, they manage to find a date, the internal conflict between bitter hatred and desperate longing inspired by the presence of a real flesh-and-blood woman must present a unique challenge.

If, for example, a woman laughs, how does the self-anointed ''alpha'' know that she's not laughing at him? What if she makes a general remark about men but neglects to preface it with "hashtag not all men"?

How could one possibly navigate a conversation with a woman without calling her a bitch, snowflake or femi-nazi? As if the discovery that women have voices and thoughts wasn't unsettling enough.

The mind truly boggles.

Put like that, I can almost understand why these men are inspired to waste hours of their days spitting and spluttering into the ether. Almost.

In the spirit of St Valentine, I hope that February the 14 does bring some love into the lives of the trollish brethren. St Valentine was, after all, known for performing miracles.

For the rest of us, whether we express the language of love through sonnets or swipe rights, here's hoping St Valentine may have something magical in store for us, too.

God knows we could certainly use a little more love in the world right now.

- NZ Herald

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Lizzie Marvelly is a musician, writer and activist, she writes columns for Weekend Herald.

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