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Busting the Valentine’s Day Myth

Posted by on February 13, 2014

I once dated someone who, in my opinion, didn’t observe Valentine’s Day to my satisfaction. Being my direct and tactless self, I expressed this displeasure to him. If you ever want to throw water on the embers of a dying relationship, initiate a transatlantic correspondence by snail mail pointing out a 20 year old male’s lack of romantic initiative.

To my immature self, my anger was justified. Valentine’s Day, as any Hallmark card can tell you, is a day for lavish romantic gestures. Doesn’t every chick flick make this clear? Sure, in elementary school we gave Valentine’s to everyone, but we all knew it was just practice for the Big Leagues: monogamous love. Valentine’s Day, I knew even as a third grader, was about having One Valentine. This Valentine would shower me with roses, chocolate, well-articulated love letters and a surprise outing between Feburary 13th and 15th. As a young girl and later as a young woman, this formula seemed very simple.

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Photo credit: Beth Fisher

In the days before Valentine’s Day, I hear laments from friends both single and in relationships. Joke and not-so-jokes are made about lack of dates, buying themselves chocolate and boycotting red. The angst around Valentine’s Day is quite sad.

I think it’s time we all just be honest with one another: Valentine’s Day is a bit of a farce. For the most part, those of us who are dating/engaged/married are not observing Valentine’s Day with quite the oopmh single people might imagine (or that we might imply to one another on social media).

Of course there are the exceptionally romantic men who represent .02% of the population who booked hotels and restaurants months ago, who carefully noted the colour/size/style of That Thing their wife/partner wants and have it neatly wrapped and ready for February 14th. There are also the couples who have discussed their expectations and decided who’s planning what, who’s buying what and making a nice date out of the day.

But guess what: a large majority of People In Monogamous Relationships find Valentine’s Day just as baffling as People Not in Romantic Relationships do.

I can’t tell you how many wives I’ve talked to who have sheepishly told me the same thing: their fiancé/partner/husband doesn’t really “do” Valentine’s Day. He may be the forgetting variety, the procrastinating variety, the boycotting variety or the I-love-you-everyday variety. But for whatever reason, the majority of couples I know are not clinking their glasses over $50 meals and staring into one another’s eyes on Valentine’s Day.

Here’s the crazy part though: we all think everyone else is! Single people think In Relationship People are set: they have Valentine’s for life. And In Relationship People think other In Relationship People are out having a way better time than they are. AND Veteran In Relationship People think Single People are living the dream–carefree and having romantic dates with mysterious strangers.

Hold the phone.

I’ve mentioned before that some holidays, namely New Year’s Eve, can make you feel like everyone else is out having a better time than you. Turns out, social media in general has this effect on us. Sociologists call it “friendly world syndrome“. The point is, before we grab a bag of chocolates and have a pity party or seethe against our partners for not planning a more romantic evening, let’s all take a deep breath.

Yes, my sister cut her potatoes into hearts.

Yes, my sister cut her potatoes into hearts.

For Varun and I, Valentine’s Day has fallen by the wayside. Not because we’re not still in love, not because we don’t value couple time or romantic gestures. Simply because February 14th has no significance for us a couple. We don’t feel the need to plan a date because it’s a certain day of the year. We may have other plans or papers to write or have just gone on a fabulous date the week before. Love, it turns out, is a million moments throughout the year.

Friends, let’s all give ourselves a little grace this year. In Relationship Friends: Instead of wishing our spouses/partners/special friends into being romantic in the sense that our culture dictates, let’s appreciate the myriad ways they do show affection and love. Instead of waiting all day for that text/flowers/surprise, let’s show love to everyone we meet and make plans and have fun and forget about what we think Our More Romantic Friends are doing. Non-Coupled Friends: Instead of buying the lies media dishes out, know that you are deeply loved and appreciated.

Last week, a friend sent an email to the ladies at our church asking who wants to hang out on February 14th. Ever the social psychologist, I was curious who would respond to a ladies night on Valentine’s Day. I was pleasantly surprised as replies flooded in from women from all walks of life—older, younger, married, single, kids, no kids. No one seemed to mind that it’s the sacrosanct Day of Love. Someone wanted to hang out and a bunch of people said, Sure!

So, what are you up to Friday? 

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Photo Credit: John Rafferty

P.S. It was awesome to see so much enthusiasm after my last post. If you’re new here, stick around! Besides ranting about my opinions on adoption and romantic holidays, I post cultural observations, share Varun’s hilarious comments and basically write whatever I feel like.

6 Responses to Busting the Valentine’s Day Myth

  1. Sam Chittick

    I’ve always found the Valentine’s day thing kind of personally entertaining, since it also happens to be the day I was born. So much hype just for my birthday! 😉

    The darling Hubby always manages a wonderful job of pulling off some sort of double celebration, even if it is just something little. This year he’s busy on the day of, but I got flowers and homemade delicious cookies to celebrate Valentines day today (yuuuuummmmmm) and I managed to trade my 24hrs of hospital call on Saturday which is when we are celebrating my birthday. I just love the excuse to spend quality time together. Not that we don’t do that regularly, but birthday/Valentine’s day is just another excuse!

    My thoughts about the day might be a little biased, but I happen to quite like Feb 14! 😛 (though if I could have convinced my mother’s uterus to expel me a day earlier or later, going out for dinner on my birthday would have been MUCH simpler!)

    • Amelia

      Hey Sam, Thanks for your input! And Happy Birthday! I love your insight and I’m glad you enjoy Valentine’s day and your birthday 😀

  2. Amelia's Dad

    Dear Mrs. Scrooge, We’ve got days set aside for changing the calendar, celebrating independence, giving “thanks”, shopping, returning gifts, and planting trees. Not to mention National Blueberry Day, Dead Presidents’ Day and National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. What’s wrong with setting a special day aside to think about and communicate with the person who means the most to you about how much you love them?

    • Amelia

      Nothing’s wrong with it, I just don’t want to feel pressured to do it. I feel like for us, our anniversary fills that purpose, but it’s a day that’s actually meaningful to us because it commemorates something in our life. I have no problem with people celebrating Valentine’s Day, I just don’t want to be compelled to or feel badly about it if I don’t 😉 PLUS! Everyone can give thanks and change their calendar, but a public day celebrating monogamous love leaves many people out!

  3. Aban

    Sami & I had dinner with his parents. Then he played video games with his brother and friends while I watched the Olympics and drooled on the couch. It was wonderful. F’real.

Thoughts? I love hearing from you!