Monday, February 16, 2009

It’s The Thought (or Lack Thereof) That Counts

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. I hope everyone’s was enjoyable. Sure enough, I heard from a friend the next day lamenting the poor showing by her boyfriend of several months … no dinner reservation (thus, waiting at the restaurant for an hour and a half), no card (hence, no proclamation of feelings which tend to have more impact written than said) and no apology (clearly, the most egregious of all offenses). I had to wonder how many new couples ended their first Valentine’s Day with one party (read: the woman) feeling less than appreciated on this day of high romance.

It goes without saying that Valentine’s Day is a day of great expectations for women in new relationships. For men who don’t “believe” in it, what they need to realize is that that’s not the point – most of the women do. Before anyone gets up in arms, providing a million arguments as to why the holiday should not be “observed” let’s make sure we’re on the same page. I’m not talking about the need to provide serious jewelry or to fly away to Paris for the weekend. Believe it or not, the value of a thoughtful romantic gesture has just as much mileage for most women as the pricey gifts. I recall years ago, going to an exboyfriend’s apartment and entering into a world of candles – candles on the shelves, on the tables, on the floor… it was incredibly romantic. While I waited for the first homemade meal the ex had ever made to be served, I noticed his poor octegenarian (in people years) Bichon Frise suddenly catch fire … sniffing one of the candles on the floor, her ear just went up in a flame. Fortunately, my reflexes were good and I jumped up to smother her ear and put out the fire. Thankfully, the poor thing in her aged state never even had a clue as to what happened (though the smelled of singed dog hair permeated the room for the next few hours). Although we had to quickly remove the rest of the candles from the floor, and the ex dwelled upon his fear that he was not fit to have kids for much of the night, the night was romantic AND it was truly the thought that counted.

Indeed, if men could only understand the power of a homemade dinner and a $3.50 card, so many bad feelings could be avoided. As most men experienced in dating should know, even the best gift given without a card loses points fast. Giving a card shows thought – it says “I took the time to stop at the store, read a few gushy cards, pick one I feel comfortable with and actually sign my name to it.”

Need it be said that self-serving gifts are at the bottom of the barrel for Valentine’s Day and should be a clear sign for the savy New York dater? Years ago, my friend who had been dating her boyfriend for about eight months received lingerie for Valentine’s Day after she had specifically stated that was not what she wanted. I’m sure you can figure out where this is going … there was also the prominent lack of a V-Day card. The Valentine’s Day fell far short of her expectations and, in the end, so did he. (Note to reader: lingerie can be a great gift when the giver knows that it will be received happily)

Men, even if you think this holiday is a way for chocolate makers, florists and restaurants to offensively overcharge, I hope you understand the point- Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about any of the foregoing and one can always find creative and small ways to be romantic. In the end, you may not lose serious points for not sweeping your female love interest off her feet on cupid’s holiday, but you certainly risk not gaining any either (which will have repercussions down the road, trust me). Women want to feel special and cared about - I think guys do too, no? So, if that’s your goal, a stop at Joe’s Stationery Store may be one of the most important stops you’ll make next year…

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