In elementary school, I had to make the prettiest box for my Valentines, pick out the perfect cards for my classmates, and hope that I would get a Valentine from everyone in the class - particularly from the cutest boy. As an adult, I have to plan the cleverest date, choose just the right card and gift, and hope that my husband remembers to pick something out for me. Society certainly has drilled the method by which we should celebrate Valentine's Day into our heads, but should we follow along? Here are five reasons couples should boycott celebrating a conventional Valentine's Day, and five corresponding alternatives that might be easier on our relationships.
1. It emphasizes generic material gifts.
The retail industry would certainly take a tremendous hit if everyone chose to boycott Valentine's Day. According to a January 2011 article by Matthew Scott, "Industry research firm IBISWorld forecasts spending for the lovers' holiday will top $18.6 billion." While it's nice that people choose to give one another gifts for Valentine's Day, the emphasis of the holiday is on generic gifts like jewelry, stuffed animals, chocolate, and flowers that are often given just for the sake of giving something.
Alternative: Give your loved one intangible gifts throughout the year, such as taking a spontaneous trip, spending a day doing all his favorite things, or completing some household projects that have sat on the back burner too long.
2. It puts too much pressure on couples.
As Valerie David points out, "[A] hazard of Valentine's Day is the heightened expectations, and you may find yourself having a meltdown over something as simple as a missed reservation or overcrowded dance floor." For some reason, people tend to feel as though a Valentine's Day celebration always has to be perfect. You have to plan the perfect date, get the perfect gift, wear the perfect outfit, and have the perfect conversation. No one and no day can be perfect, so this kind of pressure only leads to disappointment.
Alternative: Treat Valentine's Day as any other day in your relationship. Have a regular dinner, watch a regular movie, and just spend time together. If you feel like having a nice date another night (or that night, for that matter), then do so, without making one another feel like you have to.
3. It implies a time frame for celebrating love.
Why do we see February 14 as the one day we are supposed to show each other how much we care during the year? Are we released from being good wives or girlfriends, husbands or boyfriends, every other day of the year? Why should our standards be so much higher on Valentine's Day than any other day? Love should be something that is demonstrated and celebrated year-round, not on an assigned day.
Alternative: Treat every day as though it's Valentine's Day - not in the commercial sense of going out to dinner and buying fancy gifts, but by keeping the spirit of love and giving alive year round. Try to make one act or heartfelt statement of love every day of your relationship, rather than going overboard on one day and considering yourself to have met your quota.
4. You're in competition with everyone else.
Whether you're trying to beat someone to the prime reservation time at the most desired restaurant or hoping your boyfriend or husband gets you a gift that trumps whatever your friends' boyfriends or husbands might give them, Valentine's Day invokes a sense of competition. Why would you want to go out for a romantic dinner on the night that everyone else is doing the same thing? Why set yourself up for disappointment if you feel like your half-dozen roses pale in comparison to Susie's two-dozen roses in the next cubicle over?
Alternative: Pick a different date to celebrate Valentine's Day. Receiving roses on a random day of the week and going out for a fancy dinner when you have the restaurant to yourselves is a much more romantic way to celebrate your love than by competing with everyone else.
5. It singles out singles.
Even if you're in a relationship now, you can probably recall a time when Valentine's Day was perhaps the least fun day of the year. If a person is already lonely, how much more does it emphasize her singlehood when couples are broadcasting their happiness, flaunting their Valentine's Day gifts, and skipping out of work a little early to make their dinner reservations? Couples should boycott Valentine's Day out of respect for those who would rather not be reminded they are single.
Alternative: Instead of hanging out with your beau on Valentine's Day, plan a night with one or two of your single girlfriends. It might make them feel better to know that not every taken woman is enjoying a blissfully romantic evening, and your guy might be happy to be off the hook. You can always have a nice date together another day!
The choice is yours. If crowded restaurants and heart-shaped boxes of candy are working for you, then by all means stick to the status quo. But if you are ready for something different, join the Valentine's Day Revolution and take celebration of your love and relationship into your own hands!
David, Valerie. "Take the Pressure Out Of Valentine's Day." Yahoo! Shine.
Scott, Matthew. "A Valentine's Day Sales Forecast That Retailers Should Love." DailyFinance.
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