A p.s. on Valentine’s Day

My awesome friend Jenn commented on the post I just wrote about Valentine’s Day and the tragicomedy that has accompanied it through my relationship with AJ. She wrote,

Good points, and relevant to all sorts of expectations, not just holidays. You didn’t mention, have you ever done anything for AJ on Valentine’s Day? As a non-Valentine’s-celebrator, I didn’t really notice until this year that it seems to be a one-way affair of heterosexual men lavishing their heterosexual women with presents and romantic gestures. That seems weird to me. If it’s a celebration of love and your relationship, and you have an equal relationship with your partner, wouldn’t both partners have to work to make it a lovely celebration? Or, my preference, ignore it and then buy the marked-down candy!

Now you see why I’ve been friends with this woman since I first wandered into her Bob Dylan-postered dorm room. She raises a sensational point. I did not mention the years, like the last few, when I gave AJ valentines, declaring the particular ways in which I loved and was grateful for him. So yes! I have done things for him on Valentine’s Day.

Like this one that I  call “Valentine Amoeba meets The Greenhouse of Love”

And, I’m a tad ashamed to admit that the swelling arc of my feelings around Valentine’s Day has tended to have 90% to do with what I want or might get or what AJ is not doing for me. I like to explain this with the notion that I am a creature of the world, and my specific world has this particular story on hyper-repeat—this “one-way affair of heterosexual men lavishing their heterosexual women with presents and romantic gestures.” One reason I like that explanation is because it makes me feel less like a selfish, ungrateful twit. Another is that I think it’s true.

So let’s talk about the other stories here. What do you like to do for your partner on Valentine’s Day? And if you’re a heterosexual man, what’s your experience of the whole situation? Do you feel left out? Disappointed? How does this whole all play out in same-sex relationships? For folks who aren’t partnered? Bring it on, dear readers. How do you experience your expectations around Valentine’s Day? Any other selfish, ungrateful twits out there?

8 thoughts on “A p.s. on Valentine’s Day

  1. I always give my huzbend valentines, sometimes flowers. We got married on Feb 3rd so, if he doesn’t get me a card/flowers for our anniversary, he sort of gets a do-over. I like the way your friend thinks ~ the media sets us up for some weird expectations. I try not to buy into it but it’s SO hard!
    My huzbend has a different Love Language than I do so I’ve had to try and look at the ways he shows his love that I may miss if I’m not paying attention. I speak affection and gifts; he speaks kind words and acts of service. I’ve had to adjust my goggles so that when he cleans the dog barf off the floor as I’m snuggling w/ our daughter at bed time, I see it as an act of love. When he cleans the garage or makes me breakfast, he’s showing his love. Not that I didn’t see it that way, but since it doesn’t fit MY language of love, since he doesn’t shower me with hugs and kisses (SO not his way!), sometimes I miss the ways he’s speaking Love to me.
    Love is hard work!!!!

      1. My boyfriend before my huzbend spoke the same language as me. When I look back, it’s amazing to me how much unhealthy crap I was able to overlook b/c my ‘love tank’ always felt full… Oy!

  2. I don’t think you should beat yourself up or feel selfish. There’s a powerful marketing message that men who care will shower their loves with gifts on Valentine’s Day, with the implication that a man who doesn’t do that must not love you enough. When you were young and at the beginning of your relationship, you were way more susceptible to that message because you hadn’t learned yet what love really means to you and to AJ, and also the relationship didn’t feel secure. I’m sure that the reason Valentine’s Day becomes less and less important to you each year is because you’ve noticed all the ways that AJ shows he loves you naturally, without prodding from a calendar or marketers.

    As you know, I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, but in terms of celebrating our love, I do try to notice the really nice things that D does for me, like letting me sleep in on the weekends or cleaning the kitchen after I’ve made a ridiculous mess, and tell him thanks, and I try to go the extra distance to be kind to him, too. (Those things are way more valuable to me than flowers or jewelry or whatever, and as an extremely practical person I usually think of gifts like that as just a waste of our shared money). But I do have to admit that the calendar striking V-Day usually reminds me to do that more, so I guess I am a closet celebrator. 🙂

    1. Yes! Jenn comes out of the Valentine’s closet. And yes, I do think it’s mostly because of the marketing culture. But I have to accept some responsibility too, you know. And I don’t mind admitting that I am selfish sometimes. I mean, I just really want what I want sometimes and can forget in those moments that other people feel the same. It’s also just disappointing to realize that I’m just as susceptible as any human to the advertising machine. And I find it spooky how insidious it is.

      Also, here’s to celebrating the loves in our life in a million, tiny ways, any day of the year.

  3. I bought my husband a big, fancy cinnamon roll from a local bakery for him to enjoy for breakfast on Valentine’s Day. And then I bitched him out when he wanted to accompany it with a bowl of cold cereal. *sigh*

  4. I bought my fella a film (The Departed) and some chocolates and he bought a scrabble set….there you go a perfect evening in (not we ever have an evenings out) a bit of quality time.

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