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Faith Salie: Please stop with the love padlocks

(CBS News) Only a few days left to choose the way you can show your love for that special someone. Just don't pick the method that's riling our contributor Faith Salie:

It's almost Valentine's Day, and we're bombarded with symbols of love everywhere: red and pink, hearts, flowers, chocolates.

But there's another symbol, multiplying in clusters, creeping towards us: the "love padlock."

If you've been globetrotting lately, then maybe you've seen them in Prague, or Cologne, or Seoul, or Moscow, or Paris.

Love padlocks are a trend in which lovers write their initials on a lock, affix it to an otherwise picturesque setting, and throw away the key forever, usually into a river below.

And now it's spreading like a cancer to North America, coming to a monument near you.

It's graffiti! It's like carving your initials on the Coliseum. Or spray-painting "ASHLEE+JASON 4EVER" on the Ponte Vecchio.

Kids, if you feel the need to declare your love publicly, please do it on your Facebook wall, not the Great Wall.

Not only are these padlocks unsightly and surely bad for the environment -- what with all those keys in rivers -- but they're a horrible metaphor for love.

Real love is more than a one-time seemingly iron-clad pledge that we will never be apart. If you're over 20, you've probably figured out that meaningful love isn't constricting; it doesn't chain you to one place or to each other.

Mature love allows us to stretch, to grow at different rates, and we choose to re-join over and over, ideally with renewed appreciation and gratitude.

Moreover, throwing away the key irrevocably? When you offer your partner the key to your heart, he's not supposed to fling it away.

If you must leave your mark, I suggest a return to the centuries-old tradition of exchanging another kind of lock: hair!

It's an apt symbol: if you entwine your hair with your beloved's, you weave something stronger. A braid is essentially a rope -- which can be a connector and a lifeline, not a shackle.

So tie one onto the Pont des Arts.

Happy Valentine's Day! Now go pick a lock.

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