Recurring Personal: Valentine’s Day

Romance is forced onto children, especially girls, at far too young of an age

I had a valentine in fifth grade. He was nice and funny, and I really liked him. I also had about three other crushes in that year. But when I look back, I didn’t have real feelings for any of them. I was 10 years old, I didn’t know what or who I actually liked. 

     I also had a crush on my best guy friend when I was in kindergarten. We’d play Star Wars together, he’d be Luke and I’d be Leia. I really enjoyed being around him. But, since he was a boy, I convinced myself that I had a crush.

     Ever since I was a kid, I’ve forced myself into romantic feelings. I saw the movies when the beautiful woman falls for the mediocre man, and I told myself that’s what I need to find. Every woman has a love life, that’s what I need. A love life. So I could be like the women in the movies. 

     Though it wasn’t just Hollywood that gave me that idea. Every time there’s a little boy playing with or even just

 near a little girl, adults can’t seem to help themselves from cooing over them, “Oh, is this your girlfriend!” Not to mention how even if a kid is on their own, their relatives and parents are constantly compelled to tell them they’ll be “quite the heartbreaker.” 


    All of these are symptoms of a dangerously heteronormative society. Heteronormativity is just what it sounds like, the normalization of everything being heterosexual. Little girls become convinced that they need romance in order to have an interesting life, and are told that practically everything boys do around them is out of attraction. It’s harmful to girls’ minds and to their sense of self worth. 


     This isn’t only a problem in grade school, either. In middle school, it can feel like all anyone can talk about is romance. And puberty does play a large role in that, but to those who don’t feel the romantic attractions their peers are feeling, it can be alienating. Not having new crushes all the time felt as if something may be wrong with me, which led to me forcing romantic feelings for others. After a long enough time of pretending to have feelings for random boys, a person can start to convince themselves. I took platonic feelings and forced them into something larger than they were, which caused confusion down the road. 


 Girls are conditioned to believe that to have an interesting life, they need a love interest. If a girl forces feelings, she won’t be able to tell the difference between wanting to be friends with someone and wanting to date them. I know I’ve likely ruined possible friendships because I had told myself I need to have a crush, and I doubt I’m alone in that.

     I’ve since figured out the difference between platonic and romantic relationships, but there was certainly a time when the line was so blurred everything felt like a gray area. And that line was blurred by Hollywood shoving romance down my throat since I first watched Disney channel. It was blurred by the look adults gave me whenever I spoke to a boy I was friends with. It was blurred by the constant questions about boys, if I had a crush, if I had a boyfriend.

     Romance is not bad. Valentine’s Day is a lovely holiday, romantic movies are wonderful, but the heteronormativity of society has pushed romance onto everything, and it’s just exhausting.