While it is a fairly consumer-based holiday today, Valentine’s Day did not get popular in the United States until 1913, when Hallmark started mass-producing their famous cards. (From “NPR,” 2011.) Something that (ignoring the possible Roman/Catholic origins) started off so simple and pure turned into a monster over the years through marketing and the “competition culture” of the US.
There is a kind of an underlying notion associated with the holiday that you need to show how much you care about your beloved up to the limits of your ability, and to “outdo” yourself from the year before. (Read: finances.) If that is the way you go about your holidays, and showing you care, you will fail every time.
It is impossible to go bigger and bigger every year, and why should you? Who would set the bar that much higher every time? If your darling suggests this kind of Ponzi-scheme of showing your affection, or if you instinctively believe that it is your job to jump higher hurdles every year, you are going to fail.
So, what are appropriate Valentine’s Day gifts?
That all depends on your lover. What do they need? What would they enjoy as a guilty pleasure but you know they wouldn’t or shouldn’t buy for themselves regularly? (This is where the chocolate might come in.) Or, if they don’t need anything, what is something that would make them happy? (If you don’t usually get to spend a lot of time together, this could be taking a day off of work or planning a weekend outing for the two of you.) One thing to remember though when you’re deciding what route to go: the gift isn’t about you.
I’ll say it again for those in the back: THE GIFT/EXPERIENCE/ETC ISN’T ABOUT YOU.
What does that mean? It’s about showing your partner you care and you hear them. Yes, you need to stay within your means (financially, timewise, expertise, knowledge of your lover, etc.), but if the only reason you want to do something for your significant other is because you want to show off/practice your skills (ex: photography, woodworking, welding, etc.) or do something you know you’re good at (plan the same date night you have every week), you need to step out of your comfort zone.
Show the other person you care about their needs and what makes them happy by doing something you wouldn’t normally do. (No, that doesn’t mean propose…proposing on holidays is pretty cliché.)
One other thing: Calling your partner “materialistic” because they say they don’t like or haven’t had good experiences with homemade gifts in the past, probably isn’t going to win you any brownie points. Just because someone isn’t a fan of arts and crafts does not mean that they are a gold-digger asking for the heart of the ocean either (“Titanic,” anyone?).
Don’t be selfish and make whatever you are doing for your partner about self-gratification; your partner should be the one to make their effort towards you, about you.
This post was originally published on BeBetterAtDating.wordpress.com and is republished with the author’s permission.
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