Monday, February 13, 2012

RELATIONSHIPS: The Valentine's Day Paradox

Sasha Martin

I met Shiela three days ago, and she explained to me then, the day she lost hope in Valentine's day. Last year, Shiela waited patiently for her boyfriend to tell her about their Valentine's Day plans, searching for his 'tell' to figure out what he might have planned. Since he never brought it up, she assumed that he was feigning forgetfulness so that when he finally did surprise her, it would be doubly special. They could laugh to themselves about his stealthy planning and her anxious waiting over a glass of chilled white wine, she had thought. Shiela had thought to herself, "'Wow, he's a really good actor. Exceptional liar! My god.'" Valentine's Day came around, and she grew more and more nervous, at this point expecting fireworks. At the end of the night, she discovered he'd forgotten.

Roses are red, violets aren't really blue, but let's discuss that someone who loves you... Sometimes, when we idealize something or someone for too long, when we actually experience it? We're disappointed. The best example of this is today: Valentine's Day. A woman will secretly hope for days that her lover will surprise her or plan a romantic gesture that would put Romeo to shame. She will sit, dreaming of this, trying to decipher clues from texts or conversations that might tell her what surprises are in store. 

Consider this. What do you secretly wish for? It's OK, you don't have to admit it out loud. Just think about it. Maybe you like corny: coming home to a trail of roses, candles and your lover's smile. Maybe you like creativity and effort: a room filled with balloons, each of which you pop for a romantic note. Maybe you like simple: a card slipped through the door or a bouquet resting in weight. Or maybe, you hate surprises all together and simply want your lover to outwardly say: wear a nice dress and heels tonight, and baby, I'll buy you dinner. Pick your poison. Either way, we spend days dreaming, and when V-Day actually comes around? There may not be any surprise at all. 

First, can I just say that if romance really is important to you, I suggest that you take it upon yourself to show the other person this. Then, let them adapt accordingly. Why does it have to be the man to surprise you and sweep you off your feet? Why not try the sweeping yourself. Not only will this be a sweet gesture towards him, but he will learn from it and hopefully return the favor without feeling as forced.

Some men are indeed romantics, but for those who aren't, they think a last minute reservation at a restaurant and an extra big hug will suffice. Well, for the men (or lesbian partners) reading this: it doesn't. Even if the woman in your life says, "Are you kidding? F*ck Valentine's Day. It's a hallmark holiday"... Translate this! It really means: I don't care about Valentine's Day, but it would be amazing if he surprised me to show me how much he cared and to show me just how special this day can be. 

For the women reading this, however, give men (or, again, lesbian partners) a break! Romantic movies are movies for a reason: they are fiction. The lovers who go overboard with extravagant gestures in movies or real life are sweet. In reality, however, they only make the rest of the partners look bad. It isn't every day that men spontaneously decide to be as romantic as, say, Ryan Gosling in The Notebook. You have to realize that your partner may consider a card or a quickly-picked flower to be the ultimate gesture. Sometimes, a partner needs more than just a hint to pull off an adequate Valentine's Day.

Given, romance has seemed to be going downhill since the 60's Sexual Revolution. Flowers are no longer expected on first dates, and romantic gestures are often even laughed at. Why? People have become too proud and obsessed with the now idealized one night stand-- the fast life. Romance is no longer required for a man to woo a woman. This is odd, because the women I know? They deserve the moon served to them on a platter. I don't see a moon, let alone flowers.

So, for the partners reading this: go all out. Be sappily romantic, and at least pretend like you wanted to. It's just one day-- not too painful! Have fun with it. Get creative! Romance doesn't have to be standardized; don't make something whimsical and lovely into a chore. Enjoy making the person you care about happy. Don't buy anything if money or materialism is at all an issue with you. But, find a way to show the woman in your life how you care. Show her that you've been thinking about how to make her happy. In this case, it really is the thought that counts.

And, for the women reading this remember: go with the flow! Though you do indeed deserve it, don't expect him to bring you the moon. Baby steps! Realize that whatever you do with the person you love or care about will be special. Sure, Valentine's Day is a special mark in the agenda of romantic progression, but every day should be celebrated as such! So, let him show you how he feels, and breathe. In the end, all that really matters is that you are happy together. Valentine's Day is simply a way of reminding each other how beautiful love really is. It isn't a way to show off how much he thinks your worth with diamonds or expensive gifts. Romance is not dead quite yet. Let him prove this to you in his own way.

And with that, let's all go back to the forties and enjoy some real romantic loving! Let's see some roses!

The Woman Behind Unleashed and the Words                       
   I am a Practice of Art Major and Creative Writing Minor at UC Berkeley. My passions are writing and the arts in general. I created Unleashed for the empowerment and enlightenment of women everywhere. I am the editor, designer and contributing writer. I truly hope this magazine speaks to each and every woman.  Sasha Martin  

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