Sami Jankins explains why Valentine’s Day shouldn’t mean extra stress.
This is my first Valentine’s Day with my girlfriend. I want the day to be special for her, but when I try to get an idea of what she might be expecting from me I get nothing. She’ll downplay the idea of the holiday. She’s mentioned just staying in. Am I walking into a trap? What if she is just saying she doesn’t want these things, and then I look like an epic failure when I fall short of what she was expecting?
Trying to Make Things Special
Dear Trying to Make Things Special,
I understand completely! I remember years of being a single girl and watching the Valentine’s Day movies. Each movie really played on insecurities and would leave me feeling not so hopeful. Maybe I still have a mild aversion to the holiday. When I was eight years old, I bought my elementary crush a box of chocolates and a flower. He immediately threw the chocolates away because he didn’t like chocolate. I wished he would have just given them back because no chocolate belongs in a garbage. If you still have faith that I might have insight into what your girlfriend may want without any kind of official advice-giving license, please keep reading.
Do not make this a holiday of stress. Remember that the basis of this holiday is to sell greeting cards and heart-shaped candies. I don’t think we really need a documented holiday in order to remember that we care about someone or that someone cares about us. My favorite TV moments dealing with Valentine’s Day are the 30 Rock episode where Liz and her boyfriend brave Ikea, the place where couple’s relationships go to die over arguments of impossible-to-put-together furniture, in order to find a dinner table for the holiday. I also have a soft spot when Ryan from The Office says he finds it impressive when a guy can do the dinner and roses “no days of the year.” OK, so he’s not the ideal role model for any significant other, but it is funny when you look at how far-fetched Valentine’s Day has become.
Bringing it back to your relationship. You must to some extent know deep down what your girlfriend would want. It’s easy to get things confused when magazines or on-line articles tell you she must want one thing when she is saying something completely different. Heck, aren’t they now telling men that engagement rings need to be 3 months’ paycheck? I find that to be shenanigans as I’m sure many other women would as well. We are not so cookie-cutter as the industry tries to present us.
Plan the day as to what you think she would find special. Is there something you do together that she seems to really enjoy? That you both really enjoy? Maybe you have a special place you try to get dessert at on a rare occasion? Has she mentioned that there’s a certain movie she’s been wanting to see or has she been talking about wanting to hike a certain trail for a while? Plans don’t necessarily have to be the traditional dinner, flowers, and candy. Something experiential could also be fun!
If you truly know her, you know what she wants. Maybe she is the dinner, flowers, and candy woman. That’s OK too! Again, it all comes back to knowing your girlfriend. I highly doubt she is trying to intentionally lead you astray. She may even think she’s taking pressure off of you by downplaying the day. I think the most romantic and special thing for a couple is really just spending time together and being fully in the moment. It’s easy to get distracted by phones and Facebook. If she is expressing something opposite of what she is truly hoping for, it is not on you to try to decode that or read her mind.
Remember this day is also about you too! I think it’s important for all of us to remember this isn’t a one-sided holiday if it’s one we’re going to be celebrating. I wish I could rename the holiday to “hey, you’re awesome!” day. Do you think that would sell? I think it would. When it comes down to it, it’s a time to show appreciation for your partner. There’s many ways this can be done. Spend the day how you feel this sentiment can be best expressed authentically from you and I think she will fully appreciate whatever those plans are.
Here’s for better dating days ahead,
Send your pressing questions for Sami to answer for Dating in the Digital Age to [email protected].