Valentine’s Day is a day of excitement, filled with the joy of expressing love for one’s significant other, or really any special person in one’s life. That is, if you’re a woman.
For many men, it’s a day of dread.
One need only walk into any card store, supermarket, flower shop or Target and watch the panicked looks on the faces of the last minute male shoppers to see that there is definitely a mixed bag of feelings at work here. What Christmas pressure is to women, Valentine’s Day is to their partners.
What began as a day honoring the early Christian Saint Valentinus, imprisoned for performing forbidden wedding ceremonies for soldiers, has evolved into a frenzy of roses and chocolates. And a day on which some men might be willing to trade places with the incarcerated Valentinus. After all, if you’re in jail you have a good excuse for not sending flowers.
It’s not so much the expressing of tender feelings that makes men see red on this day, it’s knowing that, for some, any sentiments they do express could be analyzed under a love microscope. Cards will be shared with their girlfriends’ pals, compared for their size, sentiments and, sad to say, even price.
Of course this really shouldn’t be so. In a solid relationship, two people understand the feelings that exist and don’t need a Hallmark holiday to force them out or make them official. And for more “mature” men, one of the advantages of having survived those hard years of living is that they really do start to understand a little bit about women, how they think, and what they want. Not a lot, but a little.
And every little bit helps.
But for men who are just beginning to maneuver their way through the maze of life and love, and especially for those in the early stages of a relationship, Valentine’s Day can be brutal.
So here’s a little cheat sheet to help make this day go a bit more smoothly.
Let’s start with the card. The less words, the better. Attention spans are getting shorter and many people, women included, stop reading after about five lines. One can go serious or funny. But as much as you may LOL in the card aisle and as tempting as the humor may be, today is not that day. Stick with mushy. Most importantly, be sure to include a personal handwritten note at the end, for God’s sake!
On to the gift. Flowers are the obvious choice. Most women really don’t want candy. Actually they want it, they just don’t want it from you. They would prefer to secretly buy it themselves when it goes on sale the next day. You can get something more personal, like lingerie or jewelry, which is always a delight. But even if you do, you’ll still need to get flowers as well. Sorry.
Now, how to get those flowers to her? If you live together, you can always bring them home. It’s a nice touch to get one of those little florist cards to go with, even if you buy a grocery store bouquet. It just classes it up a notch. (I actually know a long-married couple who decided long ago they would save the money that would have been spent on all those blooms and just get the free little card instead. She saves the cards, and he saves the bucks. Great marriage.)
But it’s always extra special to get a delivery, especially at work where all her coworkers can admire, enjoy and envy her thoughtful beau’s lovely gift. Because what fun is a workplace without envy?
But if the relationship is non-exclusive, beware. One of two things can happen. Either you may unintentionally ‘seal the deal’ by sending her flowers today. Or you might be one of many. I once worked with a girl who got flowers at the office from four different guys on a single Valentine’s Day. She was later known as the office skank.
But she did strike up a relationship with the delivery man.
What about dinner? Much like New Year’s Eve is for drinkers, Valentine’s Day is “amateur night” for romantic diners. It’s really best to save your restaurant meal for another night-perhaps over the weekend-and avoid the crowds, overpricing and limited menus on this day. If you can get away with that. You’ll know you’ve got a keeper if she offers to make a special dinner (and maybe dessert) as her gift to you.
And come on, ladies, isn’t that a nice gesture? Because Valentine’s Day should be a two-way street. Men may not want flowers, and they can take or leave cards and other “symbols” of love, but they do like to be shown that they are cherished just as much as we do.
So take a little pressure off, relax, appreciate whatever tokens of esteem come your way, don’t overanalyze them, and we can all have a pleasant day and go on with our lives.
Then maybe this holiday won’t get such a bad rap.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
(And guys? You’re welcome.)
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