Ask Sarah – V Day
How can one navigate the tricky waters of Valentine’s day? I feel like it puts undue pressure on a new relationship and would rather skip all the hubbub.
I think Valentines is better for couples in established relationships. How do I bring this up without sounding like a killjoy? Or would most men be secretly relieved?
Not a Valentine’s hater but enjoying a relaxed new relationship and wanting to avoid unnecessary pressure on said relationship…
Dear Non V-Day Hater,
First of all, I agree… Valentine’s Day DOES put undue pressure on a new relationship. And it IS tricky. Unfortunately – that’s just how it is… so the question becomes, how are we going to RESPOND to a situation that’s already in place? You can’t undo Valentine’s Day. So, … all you CAN do is buckle up, stock up on non-perishables and ride out the love-storm.
I know I’ll sound like a broken record, but…. I don’t think you can go wrong with being honest. With your new guy AND with yourself.
Step 1: Be honest with yourself about your own expectations.
I think for ANY person out there in any sort of relationship (new or established/defined), the first order of business when it comes to a day like Valentine’s Day, that celebrates relationship and romance, is to take an honest look inward and ask yourself what you truly want.
A lot of women claim that “Valentine’s Day isn’t a big deal,” but then if their guy does NOTHING to acknowledge the special day or them in a special way, they’re hurt. Why is this? Well, whether or not you agree with the way our culture has blown this day into a high-stakes game of “I love you more than THAT guy loves HIS girl,” the truth of the matter is that relationships are on display on this day. You may not willingly participate, but unless you live in convent or a commune, you can’t help but be privvy to the barrage of red and pink and chocolate pressure accosting you at every turn.
Some people cheerfuly surrender to the cheesiness of it all, making and sending Valentine’s to the people they love, planning surprises for their special someone, baking heart-shaped cakes and searching for that perfect Star Wars box of chocolates for her 8-year old son… oh wait – that last one’s just me. I digress.
But, the point is – some people dig it. I happen to be one of those goofballs. So WHAT that it’s a “Hallmark Holiday?” It’s an excuse to celebrate love! And love is grand. So, take THAT, grumpy people of the world!
*takes deep breath and composes herself…
But, others feel the societal pressure and are either paralyzed by the fear of ‘doing it wrong’ or annoyed at being culturally ‘forced’ into what feels like a contrived celebration. They’d rather take a more organic approach to their relationship and acknowledge it outside of being told “Today! Do it today! And use stuffed animals, you fool!”
SO – really assess where you are.
Because if you get right down to it and realize that, while you don’t have any expectations of grand gestures and an endless fount of gifts, but you DO want SOME kind of acknowlegement or excitement- on a day that’s set aside to to so – then you MUST own it. And, by “own it,” I mean claim it, let it be known (in a kind way), and understand that if that expectation isn’t met, that part of the equation was what you wanted/expected, not the other person’s transgression, per se.
Just knowing where you stand on the Valentine’s Day thing, will help you navigate your reactions to your significant others’ actions (or lack thereof), and will hopefully help you make known your desires.
Step 2: Talk about it!
For rizzle, yo!
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with just putting it on the table. You can certainly use humor to do so – to offset some of the pressure – but talk about it nonetheless.
Trust me – talking about it, IF YOU DO IT THOUGHTFULLY, will only take pressure OFF the situation.
Look – Valentine’s Day is in 3 days. If your guy hasn’t already said anything about it, then I’m guessing (unless he’s planning some surprise…but I wouldn’t get your hopes up about that) that he’s not thrilled about it and is either planning on completely ignoring it and hoping that’s ok with you, or is sweatin’ it internally and would welcome you bringing up the pink and doily-ed elephant in the room.
Example: “Hey… so, Valentine’s Day is coming up.
I don’t know if you get into that holiday or not, but I was thinking maybe we could just rent a couple movies and hunker down with a bottle of wine…what do you think?”
And remember step one here. If this day is important to YOU, then take the reigns and make it special!
Example: “So… I know Valentine’s Day can be kinda awkward when you’re newly dating someone… but, would you mind if I put together a fun night for us? No pressure… I just get into the cheesiness a bit (I know…I have a problem… but admission is the first step toward recovery, right?) What do you say?”
Step 3: Have fun!
Whether you’re in a relationship or not… Valentine’s Day can be a sweet opportunity to let people know you care about them and you’re glad they’re in your life. It doesn’t just have to be for the person you’re smooching… use it to celebrate the love of your family, your friends, your children, your co-workers, or even strangers (how amazing would it be to bring a trunk load of Valentine’s gifts and presents to a shelter?
And if you ARE in a burgeoning relationship, use the day to let that person know you’re excited about the possibilities ahead… even if you do it ironically and full of that sarcastic “this holiday is so stupidly American… blah blah blah” attitude. Throw in a wink and some yummy snacks and call it a day.