In honor of this so-called “romantic” holiday, here's a post dedicated to love. On a side note, I think Valentine's Day is crap. Setting aside one day to pressure people into demonstrating their love seems entirely backwards to me. I think anyone who needs to be motivated by a holiday to express affection is either a robot, a workaholic, or perhaps has alexithymia. I also hate that all my favorite restaurants switch to prix fixe menus on V-day so I can't order what I really want, service sucks because the waiters are totally overwhelmed, and everything costs twice as much as it normally does.

Where was I? Oh yes, love. So I've been talking with some friends lately about their “relationship statuses” and their high-pressure weekend date plans and the world of love in general, since everyone seems to throw themselves into a romance-seeking frenzy as mid-February approaches. I'm the first among my friends to get married, but everyone (thankfully) still regales me with stories of their hilarious, touching, and – at times – tragic dating adventures.

A few friends in particular have had some rocky experiences in relationships lately. The other day, one was describing to me how her on-again off-again back-on-again and then finally off-again boyfriend wailed to her that he loves her but “can't be in a relationship” because he isn't “the relationship type.” This relationship-phobia is something I've heard a lot about, and it seems to affect men as well as women.

Something about these relatiaphobimaniacs forces them to run away (usually screaming and/or frantically flipping through their proverbial blackbook for a booty call to quickly harden their softened hearts) at the first sign of commitment. I presume that their condition develops during childhood or as a result of a traumatic experience. Whatever the case, they lure perfectly nice, normal, feeling people into a faux relationship and then balk at the idea that this ongoing dating charade would ever lead to any sort of future. Or, they hint at the “potential” of a future while complaining about some temporary complication that hinders their ability to act like a decent human being.

The person on the other side of this messy debacle often makes excuses, explaining that the relatiaphobimania developed when the person once had their heart broken, or they're really focused on their career/education/workout regimen at the moment but as soon as they recover from their narcissism, they will be the PERFECT match.

I suggested to one of my friends that perhaps love shouldn't be a back and forth painful quest. Maybe love shouldn't be this hard. To that she shook her head and explained to idealistic little me: “No, Chelsea. Love IS that hard.”

I thought about what she said. About my relationship and the relationships of those close to me. None of us live in a fairytale but honestly, I am certain that love is nowhere near the hardest thing that we encounter. Death is hard. Unemployment is hard. Mortgages, illness, and time management are hard. With our busy lives today, it's hard to make love a priority. It's hard to fight for love. It's scary to set our pride aside and risk being hurt. But love itself is easy.

Everyone has their ups and downs. I'm not saying you'll always LIKE the person you're with. There have been times when I truly thought Nate had lost his mind. Or that I was going to lose mine. But no matter what situation we've found ourselves in, no matter what stupid fight (or serious fight) we've gotten into, I've always, always loved him and he's always loved me. Because love is easy. It's all the other stuff that's hard.