February 14 is Valentine’s Day in the United States and many countries; a day meant to express love to the important people in your life.
Unfortunately, marketing firms have used it to invent somewhat unreasonable expectations of love. Such as the notion that everyone in the world has a true love just waiting for them somewhere, and that once you find that person, everything will be perfect. If you’re a divorce lawyer, you know that’s hogwash. If you aren’t a divorce lawyer, just ask one.
Or you can just do some research into the origins of St. Valentine’s Day. It began as a religious holiday to honor the patron saint of lovers. When Emperor Claudius the Cruel banned marriage to increase military enrollment, Valentine engaged in civil disobedience to perform secret weddings. What the greeting card companies don’t tell you is that February 14 is not his birthday. It’s the day he was executed by being beaten with clubs and then beheaded.
We’re not sure how this day became an homage to flowers and chocolate. But we do know there are some things you should and shouldn’t do to celebrate Valentine’s Day:
If you have a significant other, or even a relevant other
Ask your love what they want to do for Valentine’s Day. This is especially important if you’re in a new relationship. Maybe your S.O. really does want flowers, because they make him happy. Maybe she wants anything but chocolate. Maybe neither one of you really cares that it’s Valentine’s Day. Which is fine.
If you find you have very different expectations for February 14, work out a compromise. Maybe send flowers to their work, and have a simple, healthy dinner at home.
Spend time together doing what you both enjoy. If you love going to fancy restaurants together, that’s great - but make your reservations well in advance, and be prepared for a crowd. If you like dive bars, go to one. If you like to sit at home and binge-watch Outlander, do that.
Write a heartfelt letter about why you love them. By hand. On paper. With a pen. Emojis are fun, but they don’t cut it on V-Day.
Expect your partner to read your mind. If you want something, ask for it, and be willing to compromise if that’s not what your partner wants. Otherwise, you’ll wind up like this man who ignored Valentine’s Day, or his girlfriend, who was arrested for stabbing him.
Burn the house down with candles. It ruins the mood. And everything else.
If you’re thinking about “popping the question” on February 14
Prepare. Ask your partner’s family and friends (at least, the ones who can be trusted not to give the secret away) what they would like. A big splashy production with a hidden videographer, or something more private? Do they want you to go down on one knee, or does that kind of archaic nonsense make them want to vomit? Do they want a ring, or would they prefer you to save the money for a down payment on something more substantial?
Make it memorable. Based on what you know and have discovered, have some fun creating an experience that your partner would love. Do they love mysteries? Leave some clues leading up to the big question. Love rock climbing? Go to a climbing gym and leave the ring at the top of the wall. Do they love shopping? Let them pick out their own ring (within budget, of course).
HIDE THE RING IN SOMETHING CONSUMABLE. It may seem cute, but it’s really not. There’s a 69.7% chance this will go very wrong. (OK, we made that statistic up. But who’s to say it’s wrong?)
Propose in public unless you’re absolutely sure your partner will accept. If your partner is not interested/ready, either they will feel pressured to accept, and then take it back in private - or it will be very embarrassing for you, and highly entertaining for anyone who sees it.
Ask during sex, or right afterwards. Even if you really want to.
If you don’t have a significant other
Have an Anti Valentines Day celebration with other single friends.
Celebrate yourself! Treat yourself to a day of all your favorite things.
Call someone who loves you - your mom, dad, sister, brother, grandma, grandpa, or best friend.
Spend Valentine’s Day with your pets. Or even someone else’s pets.
Do something nice for someone. Send Valentines to the local nursing home or children’s hospital. Pay for someone’s coffee.
Watch a movie like Gone Girl, Kill Bill, Get Out, The War of the Roses, or First Wives Club. That will make you glad you’re single.
Ignore it. February 14 is just another day, and it only has the meaning you give it. So don’t give it any.