I know, I know. It’s still a week away, but it’s never too early for a cautionary tale.
Valentine’s Day weekend is also my birthday weekend, so I thought I’d get ahead of the pack and plan a nice dinner out. Apparently, the pack is way ahead of me. If you haven’t made your reservations yet, I regret to inform you it’s already slim pickings. Maybe you’re not surprised by that since it’s woe to the partner who doesn’t plan ahead for the Almighty Day of Red Roses.
Your Relationship and Valentine’s Day: Avoid The Pitfalls
I’m not anti-VDay — a day set aside to celebrate romantic love is a sweet sentiment. But a holiday that makes high-stakes demands on lovers simply isn’t romantic at all. In fact, the pressures of Valentine’s Day may exact a high price from couples — expensive, boxed chocolates notwithstanding.
Here are the ways Valentine’s Day may cause stress in your relationship:
The Big Anxiety: Competing for the best table at that hot, new restaurant, or ordering roses a month in advance smacks of worry: Are you going to get “it” right? Are you stressed out because you can’t quite figure out what “it” is? Anywhere anxiety exists, romance doesn’t. Calm your nerves by focusing on big love, not big gestures. When you do that, you’ll always get “it” right.
The Big Expectation: Raise your hand if you’ve ever been disappointed by a lover’s offerings on Valentine’s Day. Ever wonder why — whatever the gift — it feels like it misses the mark? The edgy anticipation of receiving (and/or giving) the perfect present takes any romance right out of the whole exchange. Why set each other up to fail? That ain’t love or romance. Do your best to keep it real: Don’t expect something you already know your lover can’t give or reasonably afford. Where there are, 1) unchecked expectations, there will be, 2) disappointments. Avoid both like the plague.
The Big Push: Feeling commercially obligated to express your love is a romance killjoy. But how many make that eleventh hour run to CVS for the perfect card? What’s less romantic than allowing chocolatiers and greeting card manufacturers define romance for you? Resist the insinuation of ads that all but confirm you’re a crappy partner if you don’t buy what they’re selling. Know this: Your ideas for romance are bigger, better, and more creative than the Open Hearts Collection will ever be.
If Valentine’s Day hasn’t quite worked out the way you wanted in the past, try it this way instead: Talk with your partner about his/her expectations for the holiday ahead of time. Discuss ways to create your own traditions which — by leaps, bounds, and default — will always have more meaning than someone else’s romantic vision. If you’d like to exchange gifts, decide on a spending cap. What do these suggestions have in common? Communication. Honest, open discussion will do more for your relationship than any Hallmark card ever could. (The same card, by the way, that approximately half the adult population in your zip code are opening up as well.)
The best thing about Valentine’s Day is it all but requires that we give our romantic relationships some thought. A year from now — or ten or twenty — you probably won’t remember the name of that fancy restaurant, or the sentiment printed inside that cookie-cutter card, but you will remember how you felt. So, if you must spend, spend time. If you must give, give without expectation. If you do celebrate, celebrate your romance in the purest spirit of the holiday — by expressing your unique love to your unique lover. And, if you’re stuck, remember that nothing will ever say “I love you” like saying it.