The Valentine’s Day scam

Valentine’s Day purports to be a celebration of love. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. It is a celebration of guilt.

Consider all the people who feel bad on Valentine’s Day, because they’re not in a “traditional” relationship like the ones shown in greeting cards and on romantic TV shows.

  • Single people who prefer to stay single.
  • Single people who are looking for a partner but haven’t found one.
  • People whose partner has left them.
  • People who left their partner.
  • People whose partner has died.
  • People in an abusive relationship.
  • People in a gay relationship.
  • Trans people.
  • People who just hate the color pink.

Well, what about the people who are just in love with somebody who loves them back?

If you’re one of those people, why do you need a reminder to be romantic on one special day?

Romance without valentines

Early in my romance with the woman who I’m now married to, I planned for Valentine’s Day. She told me: “I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.” As any man in a relationship knows, this sounds like a trap. So I got flowers, planned a date, and got a card. She smiled and went along with it, but didn’t get me anything.

The next year, I made a card myself out construction paper. She smiled. She didn’t do anything for me.

Now, it’s not like this woman doesn’t love me, or has no interest in romance. She surprises me with romantic gestures all the time. She surprises me with sudden tenderness. We go on nice dates. And we celebrate days that are meaningful to us, like our wedding anniversary or the anniversary of our first date.

Eventually, I realized that it wasn’t a trap — that she really had no interest in Valentine’s Day. And I put my romantic energies into planned celebrations and little unplanned surprises. That has worked out nicely.

As in so many other ways, my wife’s attitude towards Valentine’s Day has proven to be both loving and wise.

Don’t be suckered by Big Valentine

Who wants you to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Is is really your partner? Or is it “Big Valentine” — you know, a shadowy alliance of vendors of greeting cards, flowers, chocolates, and candy hearts; fancy restaurants; and sappy movies and TV shows. They’re purveyors of guilt, not love.

Think back on all your past Valentine’s Days. How many of those days did you feel bad, sad, lonely, angry, or numb? And how many were happy days that you remember?

If you still insist on celebrating Valentine’s Day and you and your partner like it, that’s fine with me.

But if you are starting to think it is a scam, consider breaking free. If you’re single, ignore it or just do something for yourself. And if you’re in a relationship, consider putting your energy into romantic gestures on other days — days when you won’t have to fight every couple in town for a restaurant reservation.

I know, talking about this with your partner might be a little dangerous. Maybe you don’t want to risk it. You can stay trapped by Big Valentine if you’re too afraid.

But if you and your partner choose to break free, I’m happy you’ve dumped the Valentine’s scam and joined us. We’ll never look back.

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  1. You’re right, Josh. V-day is about, “Give me flowers/chocolates/a night out…or else.”
    Knowing this, flower vendors jack up their prices for 1 or 2 days.
    I’ve asked women, “Would you be OK receiving your flowers the day after Valentine’s Day so your partner could save money?” Most say they’d have no problem with that. My wife, on the other hand…

  2. Nice thinking, Josh and especially your wife! Now let’s free ourselves from all the other ersatz holidays like Big Father’s Day, Big Mother’s Day, Big Thanksgiving, and most of all, Big Christmas. Give your family gift certificates and then go shopping after Christmas when everything’s on sale! And then skip Big New Year’s Eve too!

  3. Romance is like breathing. If you only do it once a year, and only because you feel it’s an obligation, it’s not going to go well.

  4. I’ve been married 35 years… and I’ve just loved the card my husband left waiting for me this morning, a tender love message written in his stroke-affected scrawl. Including a menu for the place he is taking me shortly for a lovely meal. Surrounded by other mushy golden oldies probably – it’s that sort of place.
    And does he do romantic things all the time? Of course he does. Often.
    But just as he makes a gesture on my birthday, on the anniversary of the day we met etc I feel especially loved and cherished today.
    (And of course I gave him an equally sentimental card and a huge kiss..)

    (AND – the cards support a local retailer who is having a hard time; going to the restaurant supports their team where they are feeling the pinch as people cut back on meals out. Spreading the love….).

    It’s only a scam if you let it be.