Love don’t cost a thing?
by Luke Ashley |February 13, 2015 -- Updated 15:16

WHAT IS LOVE:

WHAT IS LOVE: Far too often now, love is measured in expensive tangibles, and Valentine’s Day celebrations here are the perfect epitome of that. (Photo: istock)

Two weeks ago my girlfriend and I decided to walk off a heavy lunch. We passed a jewellery shop and must have looked like the perfect prey because an enthusiastic salesperson pounced on us like a ravenous lion. Before we could protest, Miss Diamonds slapped a silver bracelet on my girlfriend’s wrist, saying, “Wah, Ah Girl, if your boyfriend loves you, he will buy this for you! Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and this is on discount! Only $49.50!”

My girlfriend simply stared at her, astounded and visibly confused. The bespectacled saleswoman then turned to me, and stabbing my chest with a bony, well-manicured index finger. “Hello, young man! Do you love your girlfriend? If you do, show her lah! Buy this for her, she will definitely see how much you love her then!” For a moment, there was silence. Then, my girlfriend cleared her throat, politely declining. She then dragged my shell-shocked body out of the shop as I avoided looking at Miss Diamonds in the eye.

This incident got me thinking about how love as become a commodity. Love isn’t felt anymore, it’s shown: the bigger the carat, the more likes on an Instagram post, the more expensive the meal, the more you love someone. According to a Business Times report last week, Singaporeans are willing to spend between US$100 and $199 (S$135 and $270) each for Valentine’s Day, one of the highest amounts among a group of 17 countries that include Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Whatever happened to the times where a handwritten letter is enough to warm the heart? Where have the times gone where a woman’s smile could be bought with a cheesy love song and a home-cooked dinner?

Companies constantly advertise happy couples frolicking around a vibrant city, eating the most extravagant of dishes, buying the most expensive retail brands. At the end, a credit card shows up, where the man happily pays for all the purchases with a swipe of the card. Everywhere we go, billboards and print advertisements constantly brainwash us into thinking that our partner’s love is easily bought with an expensive dinner and a little trinket. Champagne has to be popped to “celebrate” your love (when in truth, the happiest man is the restaurant manager rubbing his hands in glee). And of course, who can forget the famous saying, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”?

Whatever happened to the times where a handwritten letter is enough to warm the heart? Where have the times gone where a woman’s smile could be bought with a cheesy love song and a home-cooked dinner?

Valentine’s Day is not about what you have to show off to your friends what your partner did for you. It’s not about the amount of likes your post on your partner’s expensive gift to you has. It’s not about money, jewellery, or anything of the sort. It’s not the rat race everyone makes it out to be, not the competition the world has duped us into believing.

It’s simply about love, and the delicate bond you and your partner share. It’s about genuine smiles, a warm fuzzy feeling in your chest, the butterflies in your stomach when you meet. It’s about precious time you spend together.

Two weeks later, we were at the mall again. My girlfriend tugged on the sleeve of my shirt. I asked her why she stopped walking in the middle of a crowded shopping mall. She hugged me tightly, thanking me for taking the time to have dinner with her, and that we could go someplace else if it was out of my budget. She made it clear that it didn’t matter what we did or bought, what really mattered was the time she had with me. That to me doesn’t cost a thing but has far greater value than any diamond bracelet, any day.

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