Valentine's Day is Actually a Good Thing
February 14th is fast approaching. For some, this is a wonderful event in which you involve yourself in an activity where you get to find out precisely how much your significant other cares about you and/or knows how to read a calendar so they can actually plan things. For others, it is a not-so-gentle reminder that romantic comedies are terrible and that you can, in fact, eat an entire tub of ice cream.
Okay, I’m sorry. I’m a bit cynical here. I don’t actually hate Valentine’s Day (which I will avoid abbreviating as VD), partly because it always follows my birthday but mainly because I think that Valentine’s Day is an unrealized opportunity.
You see, people consistently tell me how much they don’t like the consumerism that Valentine’s Day represents. It seems that an entire industry has developed around relationships and that starts juicing the minute February rolls around. Going into their steroid rage you have florists, restaurants, spas, gift shops, jewelry stores and a whole slew of different merchants ready with discounts and advertising in order to pry you away from your money in order to please someone else. Being the free market enthusiast that I am, I see nothing wrong with this.
I just think that people who are lamenting this are not realizing who actually has the power here. It is easy to get swept up into thinking that everyone is just coordinating against you, but the power lies with the individual on how to make this day work in their favour and to ensure that everyone enjoys themselves. There is a way to navigate the commercial-ness of Valentine’s Day so that it doesn’t become the tacky event it is for others.
For instance ...
You don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant!
Find something local that’s known for good food and has a nice quiet corner or make a meal at home for the other person. Taking the time to think about what they like and preparing it makes it more special than simply buying them a lobster dinner or truffle risotto.
You don’t need to buy an expensive fancy gift!
Sometimes, finding something that you can do together is more important than giving someone a gift certificate to get away from you and get some alone time.
You don’t need to do so many things
Quality over quantity. It’s not about what you give all the time. It’s about what’s behind the gift and how it’s given. Tie it back to the relationship and you won’t have to be buying a diamond necklace.
Some people may point out that I haven’t really addressed the initial concern. Moreover, some people find that this is more effort than simply spending the cash and keeping your partner happy. Why on Earth would you go through all this?
There is a simple answer: the biggest complaint about every relationship is boredom. There is no spark or life in relationships as they go along. People get comfortable with each other and often simply neglect aspects of their relationship and this becomes the status quo. I’m not saying that this puts one party over another but, as it often happens, the work that both parties put in, as it becomes consistent, is ignored. This is simply a fact of life.
But this is an opportunity for someone to invigorate their relationship back to where the qualitative facets are highlighted again. The efforts that are done reap rewards that they wouldn’t normally do at any point in the year. While some point out that this just means that Valentine’s Day is just a set date where we get to validate things again and neglect them for the other days of the year, this is also the time when these actions are more noticeable. While it may seem like a convenient cop out for this to occur, everything begins from somewhere. As such, realizing that you don’t have to necessarily bombard everyone with tokens of affection is one of the best things you can learn. Rather, the more simple and far more rewarding tactic is to actually bombard them with affection!
It’s easy to get cynical about Valentine’s Day. I’ve done it and so do many others. Cynicism has it’s place in certain things but it’s also harmful. It can blinds us to benefits that come from simply experiencing things. You can always find a reason why things are contrived and baseless. The whole point of Valentine’s Day is that it’s an opportunity to remind you and another person that you actually care about them. That despite all the exams, work, and other pressures that are inflicted upon us, there are some things that not only help us get through that, but are the reason we often go through that struggle in the first place.
For those of us, myself included, who don’t necessarily have someone to share this with, it’s always important to remember that this isn’t a typical situation. Sooner or later you’re going to be in a place where you will need to worry about these things. If there is one thing that will assist in that, it is remembering that there is more to keeping a relationship going than simply being present and showering your partner with gifts when necessary. It’s about being attentive and making the other person feel important to you.
And no, you don’t need to leave this to simply one day out of the year. Try to make a habit out of it. I promise you’ll be happier.