Why Valentine’s Day isn’t Romantic

I know, I know. Writing an anti-Valentines Day post is about as original as telling a knock-knock joke in a pair of Uggs. I also realise that my blog title has the word ‘Cupid’ in it and that I often enthusiastically write about my relationship. You’d think I would be out on the street ringing a bell with an “I LOVE VALENTINE’S DAY” sandwich board.

But alas, Valentine’s Day is not for me. Besides the fact that it is a cynical corporate ploy, I find it wholly unnecessary. For me, it’s just another way for society to try and convince us how inadequate we are. It’s like there’s someone shouting “ROMANCE? YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!” into our ears. We are constantly surrounded with propaganda that attempts to convince us we’re not sexy enough, romantic enough, wild enough or fun enough. Valentine’s is just another way for us to feel that we need to spend a certain amount of money on grand romantic gestures to somehow quantify our relationships.


It was a few days before Valentine’s last year when an excitable colleague of mine asked me, with all the enthusiasm of a girl in the early stages of a relationship, what I was getting my boyfriend of ten years for a gift.

“A giant teddy bear, but instead of a bear’s head, I’m going to put a model of my face,” I answered her, expecting her to deduce that I was joking. She stared blankly at me. “Alice, I’m kidding. I’m not getting him anything.”

This shocked her even more than my psychotic present idea.

“You can’t get him nothing,” she complained, “it’s VALENTINE’S DAY!”

Even though I knew Alice was just a hopeless romantic and there was no malicious intent in her questioning, I felt slightly irritated.

“Alice, we’ve been together for ten years. We love each other but we don’t need to buy each other gifts to show that.” I could tell by her face that she didn’t agree with me. So I told her about our first Valentine’s Day together.

I had been just sixteen years old. Jack and I had been together for about six months. I was young and naive and I genuinely believed that if I didn’t buy Jack the most amazing gift and have the most romantic day then it would spell disaster for the future of our relationship. Jack told me that he had gotten me “something special”. You might assume that this would have delighted me, but instead it added to my apprehension. If he had gotten me something so wonderful, then how could I possibly measure up? Men are almost impossible to shop for. I traipsed around shop after shop, with several friends in tow. “How about a teddy?” they would recommend, “or a watch? Book? Jersey? Cologne?”

“No, no, no, no, NO!” I would screech manically, “it has to be PERFECT!” The problem was, I didn’t realise that last minute gifts and nails bitten to the quick hardly constitute perfect.

I can’t say I enjoyed that Valentine’s Day. I spent most of it imagining various reactions to my terrible present (I think I went with aftershave):

“Are you implying that I SMELL?!”

“This aftershave smells like the inside of a Hippo’s colon!”

Etc, etc.

My point is that that day was ruined because of the pressure I put myself under. I confessed this to Jack a few weeks later. He was surprised.

“You really thought I would break up with you if you couldn’t find me a gift? Do you really think I’m with you so that once a year I’ll get a bottle of Hugo Boss? Do you think that that’s how I know you love me? From PRESENTS?!”

“Well, when you put it like that….” I admitted, feeling sheepish.

Since that fateful first Valentine’s, we have a rule: no presents. Instead, we cook a meal together. We chat, have fun while cooking and then eat it over candlelight and reminisce on the all the years we’ve been in each other’s lives. We decided that one day in the year shouldn’t be dedicated to making each other happy; that should happen as often as possible. Sure, not everyday can be Valentine’s, but shouldn’t the supposedly selfless and romantic spirit of that day be present in a relationship more than just one day a year?

There are times when Jack and I argue of course (tomatoes ARE fruit, damn it!) but when I look back in years to come at my favourite memories with him, it won’t be those I remember. It also won’t be any grand romantic gestures. It will be the days when I came home from work and Jack had warmed my slippers by the fire and had a cup of tea waiting for me. For me, and I know for many others, it’s the little things that count.

So if you happen to be nervously perusing shops looking for that perfect Valentine’s gift, relax. Take it from me, expensive gifts don’t equal romance. In the long term, this realisation will benefit any relationship. Or destroy it, whatever.

19 thoughts on “Why Valentine’s Day isn’t Romantic

  1. PurplesShade says:

    It’s funny, because to me, cooking a meal together, is a romantic gesture.
    I know lots of people do it all the time, but it’s frequency doesn’t make it not romantic.
    (To be crude, lots of people have sex often, does that reduce the romance of sex? Pah! no.)

    Oh, and in Korea, they apparently sometimes put cherry tomatoes on cakes. XD

    Fruit is a very broad category though, it ends up having to include things like cucumbers, zucchinis and other squash (because the flower becomes a thing with seeds inside, a fruit)
    So when we talk about fruits, there’s almost two types of fruit. Culturally considered fruit, and really fruit according to the way we define fruit. Culturally, tomatoes are fruit-ish, but also vegetable-ish (Though obviously considered all fruit no ‘ish’ in Korea though, they’re not confused.)
    Cucumbers, also technically fruit, are predominantly thought of as more of a vegetable.
    Bell peppers, again, technically fruit, thought of as “vegetable”.
    Eggplant, same thing… and so on.

    So the root vegetables are a little bit different, we eat, as the name implies, the root of the plant. Broccoli, we eat the flower buds and stem. But as much as there’s a variety, we still eat a lot of ‘fruit’ as ‘vegetables’. Haha

    • janeybgood says:

      Completely agree. I think if there’s an intimacy between a couple, anything can be made romantic. For me and Jack, a simple walk can be lovely. Even cleaning the house can be fun.
      Well, thank you for that! I love how wise you are (I am totally coming to you for all future advice haha). I didn’t know bell pepper could be considered fruit? Now I’m all types of confused!

      • PurplesShade says:

        Cleaning the house! Man, I wish. XD haha
        But we are pretty flexible about it too. For me and Michael, we can even just go to a park sit on a blanket and play crib together (Like a picnic, only we don’t eat the cards. XD)

        Oh, it’s because of the botanical definition of fruit, which is basically that a fruit is the product a plant produces when it flowers, which contains the seeds. So bell peppers are a fruit, because the pepper plant flowers, and produces a fleshy bulb that contains seeds.
        …I decided to double checked to make sure I’m not off base, and nope, wiki’s article on fruit talks about the way we usually define fruits (as something sweet) and the botanical definition which includes as I said anything in the ‘flower-produced, bulb of seeds’ category. haha

        LOL! Well, do feel free to. I don’t promise I’ll know, but I do try to have a million bits of trivia memorized that I may never need, and answering a question is for me what it is to call Marty McFly a chicken, a challenge. Bawhaha
        Because it turns out I love answering questions and if I don’t know I also love learning new things. πŸ˜‰

      • janeybgood says:

        That sounds fun, we don’t have the weather here for sitting outside but maybe in the summer.
        See, I never would’ve known that. I knew it was something to do with the seeds. Now I feel more knowledgable, thank you haha!
        I do know a lot of useless trivia but I’m not as good as you. Anyway, you seem to know a lot of useful things too!

      • PurplesShade says:

        We haven’t really either, but even overcast is alright in my books. The general area I live is call the ‘lower mainland’ but it’s often referred to as the ‘lower rainland’. Even in the summer we often have lots of rain. (It rains approximately between 160-170 days per year here.)
        Which I guess makes some sense since technically where a lot of the metropolis has been built was once a temperate rainforest in antiquity. Climate hasn’t changed even with less trees. Probably pretty similar to where you are in terms of temperature. You guys might be just a bit more chilly.

        Ah, don’t sell yourself short on that one. Besides, I’ll bet you have more practical skills instead. πŸ˜‰
        Or perhaps more worldly experience.
        This amount of factoid learning only happens when you’re too afraid to do almost anything but hide inside the house and read, or cook crazy dishes.

      • PurplesShade says:

        Oh I realized that first part could sound a little dismissive, I meant it more in a ‘you have to make the best of it’ sort of way.
        Annnnndd sometimes we end up going into a coffee shop lest we risk soggy cards.

        *Paranoid anxiety girl thoughts: “Must fix possible misstep or Janey will hate me!”*

      • janeybgood says:

        You couldn’t be mean if you tried, writing insightful comments and just generally being sweet. Haha, I saw nothing dismissive at all πŸ™‚
        But yeah, when you live in such a wet climate, you do have to adapt. Rain can actually be fun.

        I do love having lots of useless information because there are times when it actually becomes useful (which makes it useful and not useless but I’m tired today haha). Like at table quizzes, I’m always the go-to girl for random information. I suppose I’ve accumulated it from googling things constantly! I spend an inordinate amount of time on Wikipedia, which isn’t exactly the best source of trivia, but it’ll do πŸ™‚

        It’s a good thing though, some day it will all come in handy (or so I keep saying) but I’m no where near as full of trivia as you! You could probably survive in the wild haha!

  2. reocochran says:

    I guess I love to celebrate all the holidays. My parents exchanged cards, my Dad left a pile of years worth of cards for my Mom to open after he died. (He had been given a rather short ‘sentence’ of cancer.) My mother always got us cards, wrote messages while we were at college, married and living far away and then, while I was divorced… I guess each family has its customs, we like to be reminded to share our special days and make them just a little bit different than the ‘everyday’ love we all share. I still will get a Valentine’s Day card from my kids, my grandkids, my Mom, and one of my 2 brothers! I guess it is all in the way you look at things. I will be so happy to receive the mail and time it took to do this for me! Smiles, Robin

    • janeybgood says:

      That does sound sweet Robin. I do like the idea of cards; in fact, my niece has often made me cards and they are so cute.
      My issue arises from how commercialised it has become. I know some girls that get dozens of roses from guys who then later go and treat them like dirt. I would prefer to have a nice, trustworthy and loyal partner who doesn’t buy into Valentine’s than an insincere, flashy guy who spoils me.
      The gesture your father made is one of the sweetest I have heard of, and that is exactly what I mean when I write about how couples should communicate: it’s sincere, romantic, meaningful and beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Trent Lewin says:

    Same way here. We don’t celebrate Valentine’s at all, barely acknowledge it. It’s just not meaningful – every day should have some romance and love in it, all the time if possible.

  4. V says:

    We don’t do Valentine’s Day either. In fact, we do exactly what you and Jack do; dinner and chats. Well, I do dinner, he chats, because he’s not what we’d call “kitchen comfortable”. He’s really good at peeling the spuds though.

    I did make him a card last year actually! I was bored in work and printed off lots of those anti-Valentine’s poems. Like, “Roses are red, Violets are blue, I have a gun, Get in the van”, and “Roses are grey, Violets are grey, I’m a dog.” Oh! And my favourite: “Roses are red, my name is Dave, This makes no sense, Microwave.” πŸ˜€

    • janeybgood says:

      Ok V, I’m going to have to steal that idea. I love it.
      An anti-Valentines Day sounds like fun. We could give those cards, and follow it up with a swift kick in the nuts. They’d never expect that.
      Did ya have a good birthday? Also, did you do my dare? Ha!

      • V says:

        Do it! It’s awesome to have someone who appreciates that kind of humour. ;D He put the card up on one of the shelves in the sitting room. His friends and even his mother read it, though truth be told the majority of them think we’re total weirdos.

        I did have a good birthday! And yes I did your dare. ;P Was going to write it up for this week’s Spew, but I can tell you now that the first person I did it to (a guy) thought it was hilarious so I tried it again on a girl and that didn’t go as well. I purposely picked her out because she looked so scowly.

      • janeybgood says:

        Ha, all our friends know how weird we are. They can’t believe how mean we can be too each other, but it’s all in good fun.
        Hahaha, brilliant! Yeah, me and my friends did it one night and we ended up making great friends with a group of people. Another night, a girl nearly punched me. So it’s hit and miss, I probably should have warned you haha!

      • V says:

        That’s nearly what happened! I went to give her a hug and she saw me coming, was like, WTF, and tried to stop me. So I asked her was she allergic to hugs, and she answered, in a fantastic north Dublin accent, no, I’m allergic to lesbians. D:

        When I told everyone about the dares they got on board, all gung-ho, and came up with a few of their own for me. My favourite was that while in the bathroom of one of the pubs I had to flush the loo, burst out of the stall and look around in a panic. Then I had to ask someone, “What year is it!?” and when they answered I had to punch the air and declare, “I did it!” and skip out of the toilet.

      • janeybgood says:

        Hahaha, brilliant! I am definitely going to have to rob that one. My friends and I are always trying to find ways to outdo each other in the dares stakes. Sometimes they do seriously backfire though. Like the time I dared my friend to approach a group dancing and just randomly and silently join in without making eye contact. They wouldn’t leave her alone all night haha.

        That girl’s response was gas, I’ve had that too. Can’t nobody see that a hug from a stranger can be perfectly innocent?!

        The best dare is the one where you get a friend to approach a total stranger and be like “hey, oh my god, haven’t seen you in ages! How the hell are you?” The funniest thing is they usually play along!

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