As I mentioned the other day, Valentine’s Day and its accompanying frenzy is right around the corner. Whee! Thankfully, Valentine’s Day Panic (VDP) is one of those things you can opt out of, like my mailing list or freshly ground pepper or airplane headphones. One of my favorite advice columnists, Dan Savage, regularly tells couples that they should “f*ck first” (his wording) before they go out for a rich expensive Valentine meal. His reasoning? Couples get all worried about The State of Their Relationship when they collectively down two steaks, a pile of oysters, a buncha side carbs, a bottle of red wine, a magnum of bubbly and a chocolate mousse, plus a heart-shaped box of truffles on the ride home, and then suddenly end up snoring instead of sexing it up after their Big Night Out. And then they freak out because they’re In Trouble or Not Intimate Enough or (insert your concerned euphemism here ________).
Dan’s right to admonish couples to avoid unnecessary love-panic by switching up the sexytime schedule. But the real point is, he shouldn’t have to give couples creepy instructions about their sexual habits; they should simply not be pressured to go all out and go broke in the process! Or have obligatory sex because Hallmark told you so! Have it because you were going to have it anyway, gosh! (*blushes*) Look, I’m quite private about sexytime stuff, but I’m trying to help you have happier relationships here. Bang first. Do it.
And just like you shouldn’t feel obligated to have sexy times after a massive calorie-fest, you also shouldn’t feel like you HAVE to buy your date a gift, especially if you haven’t been together long enough to already have a bunch of great gift ideas socked away in some Google Doc that you never remember to check in time for Amazon Prime shipping. Ladies, this goes for you in TRIPLICATE: there’s so much silly pressure on guys to read your minds and come up with the PERFECT thing that NO OTHER BOYFRIEND thought of, and there are so many terrible reinforcing cultural things that allow women to get all pouty and blamey because he got you the exact same dozen red roses with baby’s breath as all the other girls in the office, instead of something UNIQUE. Hush, darling. Do a little mental twirl if you got flowers at all, because that is icing on the cake of having a thoughtful dude around, OK? Valentine’s Day is fun if and only if both lovebirds are willing participants, and both people agree to be charmed by time together and the mere thought, let alone any actual gifting or card exchangery. And please. Please. Don’t make the jewelers feel obligated to come out with new ugly heart necklaces! Don’t do it. (Sorry, they’re just not my taste.)
Lastly, don’t forget to give your single friends some love. If you know someone who’s solo and perhaps a bit raw about it (recent breakup, etc.) consider throwing them a cutely filled-out box of those Conversation Hearts, or just draw a little heart on their Starbucks cup when you treat them to coffee. Yes, treat them to coffee. Make your single friends feel special. It’ll come back around. Heck, if you’re a really awesome friend and especially if the raw person is your boss, send them flowers! Trust me. Clearly platonic thoughtful flowers are rarely ill received.
In summary: bang first, don’t pressure each other with ridiculous expectations, and shed some love on your single friends. Oh, and consider setting a rough price range for Valentine gifts within a couple: this year at Casa Roberts, the budget is approximately $4. (But he’s gonna love it.)