IN what would have been my fifth Valentine’s Day with my partner, I have found myself making the decision to spend it with someone else: my best friend.

Not because of an act of rebellion towards this often contested day, or because I don’t like the idea of romance or spending time with my boyfriend.

My change of heart on how – and with who – to celebrate the day this year, was actually sparked by something deeper that made me reflect on the importance of friendship.

One of my friends recently said to me: “Why does no one ever talk about how often people come and go?” She said it made her think about the ‘different lives’ she led since she was born; that she sometimes felt like a different person.

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I started thinking about the people and changing experiences that once were part of my life. Acquaintances, friendships, romantic encounters, and relationships that fizzled out and faded into the ether. How inherently different my childhood, the time before and during university, the six months I spent backpacking alone – a more carefree time I too often find myself looking back to, longingly – feel to the here and now.

Looking back, I couldn’t remember anyone telling me how to deal with the feelings of loss and grief this revolving door of people and experiences that seem to have characterised my teens and early-twenties would make me feel at times.

How do you deal with the mourning of someone who is not dead but just not with you? Celebrate the fun you had with them, while acknowledging the loss of the relationship? Reconnect with a version of yourself that, realistically, still exists but – in a more philosophical sense – does not.

Although I am aware the above may sound like it, my little thinking exercise and subsequent trip down memory lane did not make me fall into a pit of melancholic despair. Instead, I believe I may have found an answer to my questions.

For me, what helped me navigate these changes was that I had a group of loyal friends who remained constant throughout.

It is commonly known why having friends is so important. That people need human interaction around them to thrive is said so much it almost seems cliché – but it holds true.

In a previous column, I talked about how debilitating feelings of loneliness can be and how many people in Scotland have felt this way. While the Mental Health Foundation says such feelings are “not about the number of friends we have” but “the feeling we experience when there is a mismatch between the meaningful social connections we want and those we have”, there is an obvious sense of camaraderie being part of a group brings.

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I don’t see all my friends regularly, but the form of euphoria I feel as soon as I do, is almost intoxicating. Whenever this happens, I leave feeling empowered and refreshed and a lot less alone.

On Valentine’s Day, it is amorous love that gets all the attention. However, if having friends and these other forms of love are so vital to our wellbeing, why would we not celebrate these more?

Other cultures have already been doing so traditionally. Finland, for example, celebrates ‘Ystavanpaiva’ – ‘Friend’s Day’ – while in Mexico Valentine's Day is more commonly referred to as ‘el Día del Amor y la Amistad’ – ‘the day of love and friendship.’

It has to be said that even here, the concept of ‘Galentine’s’ – celebrated February 13 – is nothing new. Many know the term from an episode of the TV show Parks and Recreation. In it, Leslie Knope, one of the characters, talks about how she and her “lady friends” come together on the day and “kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies.”

The idea has taken hold. I have seen several marketing campaigns specifically catering towards it in recent years. Still, despite this new trend, it cannot be denied that our society still puts extreme focus on amorous love and celebrating its longevity, over celebrating friendships.

HeraldScotland: Galentine's Day was popularised by an episode of NBC sitcom Parks and RecreationGalentine's Day was popularised by an episode of NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation (Image: NBC)

We traditionally celebrate romantic milestones - anniversaries, engagements, weddings. When single and talking to family, I have been asked countless times about whether there are any suitors on the horizon, but never got the same interest towards the other relationships in my life.

Of course romance and finding love is special. I am so glad I have, and my partner and I regularly try and celebrate this in our own ways.

However, while this is true, so is the fact that it is my friends that have carried me through so many parts of life. Our story, although purely platonic, is just as much a love story as the one I have with my boyfriend, and deserves to be celebrated.

For the friend I will be meeting later today, our story began when we walked home the same way after a party. It was nurtured while we lived together, wore - and ruined - each other’s clothes, and drank countless cups of Earl Grey tucked under a duvet, binge-watching TV.

It was expanded through countless nights out that brought about a new treasure trove of stories each time, challenged through passive-aggressive texts and fallouts over the biggest and the smallest things, and solidified through the many hugs and hours of voice notes of encouragement as we navigate through life side by side.

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Not only am I lucky to have her, but even luckier that I was bestowed with a whole plethora of people - I could write a love story for each one.

So, to my friends this Valentine’s Day, this is my (short) love letter to you; an ode to friends so to speak. Thank you for the special kind of love you keep showing me and for staying around.

And for anyone reading this and lucky enough to have had the same experience as me, this is my call to celebrate your friends. Today should not be reserved to romantic love. Platonic love deserves just as much of a celebration.