You have 50 days until Valentine’s Day. Why am I giving you so much notice? Well, you might need it. If you believe the media, you probably should have started planning months ago.
Valentine’s Day used to be about sending cards. It’s only in the past 50 years or so that the range of gifts expanded to flowers, chocolate and jewelry. These are more expensive, which is all the better for the florists, chocolatiers and jewelers, but bad news for you. You can expect to drop $125 at the very cheapest on this trifecta, which doesn’t even include dinner.
This is a lot of money, especially for students, but advertisements make certain promises that might tempt us to buy. Buying something as expensive as jewelry must mean that it is true love, and of course, in every commercial chocolate is shown practically causing orgasms. Flowers aren’t really portrayed as having any sort of special powers, but they are such a staple (who doesn’t get 12 roses?) that they barely need any ads at all.
What it comes down to is that society (i.e. companies that sell Valentine’s gifts) want you to forget about all the love and feelings and stuff and just buy your girlfriend what everyone else is buying.
And yes, I said girlfriend, because I have never seen an add that promises guys any sort of Valentine’s Day gift, except sex as a direct result of the other gifts he has bought.
Sexism and prostitution aside, there is no way to succeed in this kind of system. Sure, you bought flowers, chocolate and jewelry, but that’s just the basics. To truly create a fairy-tale Valentine’s Day, you will need to at least throw down $500 an hour for a horse-drawn carriage, to say nothing about the trained doves and string quartet. Even a fairly basic romantic dinner is not only fairly pricey, but can easily fall through if you don’t make reservations soon. So why do we even try?
Truth is, advertizing doesn’t only work on the guy who has to buy all this stuff. Whether they like it or not, everyone’s expectations have been raised by these ridiculous ads. I don’t care who you are, if you’re expecting dinner at a fancy restaurant and a diamond necklace, and you get Pita Pit and a ring pop, you’re going to be a bit disappointed.
The secret to having as little of that disappointment as possible is, of course, communication. Try to figure out what each person in the relationship expects from the day. It would be classy to not do this the day before. There are many different ways you can celebrate Valentine’s Day and you shouldn’t feel pressured to celebrate in a way neither of you really wants.
If your relationship is relatively young, Valentine’s could be fraught with even more trouble. If you are still infatuated with each other, it won’t be very healthy to listen to the day’s message of true love, marriage proposals and happily ever after. You will probably still want to celebrate it, but make sure that you’re having fun, and not in a restaurant surrounded by couples who have been together for years. It’s probably too soon to be thinking that far down the road, especially when you should be focusing on each other and not on what society thinks you should be feeling.
And if you find yourself on Valentine’s Day with nobody to celebrate with, it is of course a perfect time to celebrate “Singles Awareness Day” with friends. Just try to do things that will place you far away from the happy couples, as that defeats the purpose of celebrating your singleness and your right to celebrate even if you aren’t seeing anyone. Watching a movie while eating ice cream is a traditional favorite, but don’t pass up a fun (not romantic) dinner or something more wild (sex toy party?). There are endless possibilities.
Another benefit of Valentine’s Day is that if you do feel lonely, it’s likely that others feel the same way. While it would be unlikely to start a relationship with someone while under that sort of pressure, hooking up with someone might be just the thing to remind you of the fun of single life. Just be sure that you don’t expect anything more than fun from it.
In short, whatever your situation this Valentine’s Day, don’t let your day be dictated by our consumerist culture. For hundreds of years, it was a holiday about love, and that should be your focus, not whatever you are supposed to buy to prove that you have love. As long as the day is special, who cares what you buy or get?
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