How much does love cost? Depends on who you ask this Valentine's season. To some, romance and money must be on the table. To others, love is measured by the quality of time spent with a lover, the deep emotional connection and companionship.
Ahead of Valentine's Day, I am seated with a friend discussing the commercialisation of romance and how those considering marriage have pushed financial independence to the top of the list of what to look for in a partner.
He is in his 30s and argues that younger women have "become masculine", making it hard for men to date them and form genuine, fulfilling relationships.
"What do you mean they have become masculine?" I ask. He says that women are no longer submissive, and have lost their femininity, the softer side, therefore, ought to be treated as equals in relationships, including financial contribution.
"What are you bringing to the table besides love? Don't tell me loyalty or that you will carry my child. There must be something else because we are equals. We also want women who have accumulated a significant amount of wealth or are financially independent," he says.
Young GenZ women say their male agemates have become keen on a partner's material wealth and achievements. That love, both for men and women, comes with an unspoken price tag.
Wairimu Mwende, 26, says money has its place in sustaining relationships.
“Honestly, financial stability plays a crucial role. Typically, love is influenced by one's earnings. It is challenging to have a successful relationship or marriage without a job. The amount of money someone has becomes a determining factor in love, shaping the financial strategy for the relationship,” she says.
Kenedy Ojuong', 27, says one way to gauge if money sustains a relationship is when it is lacking. He believes that love, while priceless, has a tangible cost.
“Finding authentic love in today's era is nearly impossible due to the perceived price tag placed on it by women. As men, it becomes challenging to provide for myself and support a girlfriend whose commitment I am uncertain about,” he says.
Joy Atieno, 28, says love is not devoid of costs; but it goes beyond the finances.
“Love is never truly free. This cost extends beyond the financial aspect. In pursuit of love, one loses her true self,” she says.
For 61-year-old Aineah Juma, the older that someone gets, the more one looks at love differently. In old age, love centres on companionship.
“At this stage of life, the cost of love is measured by how deep a connection and companionship someone has with their spouse or partner. Love at 60 is an investment in shared moments and genuine connection, making it priceless,” he says.
Brian Mwadime, 34, says "love cannot be measured in the mere currency of dollars and shillings."
"It's an investment of time, vulnerability, a gamble with the highest stakes. Love demands patience and resilience. It is easy to measure its cost in moments of joy and despair, in the sacrifices made and the secrets kept. The returns can be immeasurable; a shared smile, the comfort of a silent embrace, the exhilarating heartbeat at the sight of your beloved... These are the dividends that outshine the darkest days,” says Mr Mwadime.
According to Stephen Ngangi, a pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church, love cannot be assessed in monetary terms.
He emphasises that if love is measured in terms of money, it is likely to be short-lived.
"Love, being more of a commitment, defies quantification in monetary terms. When you love someone because of money, it will eventually fade,” he says.