As Valentine’s Day approaches, how do you feel about it? Does it excite you? Are you depressed about it? How do you want to celebrate Valentines Day? It can be fun and it can have a dark side. Let’s look at both.
The UP Side
The fun side is a delight. Since it comes in midwinter, whatever you do to celebrate can be very healthful emotionally. It comes just when we need it. The timing falls between New Year’s and spring. There’s an emotional need for a celebration. In the north, Valentine’s Day is especially beneficial. Some people decorate with red and pink in the midst of winter dreary skies and cold temperatures. The colors contrast with the snow. If you let it, Valentine’s Day can uplift you wherever you are. It jazzes you up.
The DARK Side
First, the expectations. That’s where suffering starts, then suffering keeps you imprisoned. Women tend to expect to be in receiving mode. They place great meaning on getting something. A woman tends to think it really REALLY means something about her if she doesn’t get something. It is programmed into her by ads. She is right back in first grade when one person in the class did not give her one of those cartoon cards. So all the times she did get something, it is not enough to save her from feeling vulnerable every year. Insecurity rules the day. A woman could think: “What if the gifts don’t show up this year? What if they are not as good as last year?” In a recent poll I did, many women felt so left out of Valentine’s Day that they did not want to talk about it.
The second dark side is the discrepancy between givers and receivers. Ads show the woman receiving. Until this year, I haven’t seen men receiving. Have you? Do men relish Valentine’s Day? I set out to find out and I’ll say more about that in a minute. Valentine’s Day is a crucial day in the calendar. We define ourselves by our love life and we judge ourselves by external criteria. Is someone special to me going to recognize me?
When I took a poll, all the men said Valentine’s Day was for women and children. All the women said it was for women and children. That may explain why most men feel it is a non-event. It isn’t marketed to them for them to receive, only for them to give as obligation. And men naturally resist the commercial guilt trip, even if their wife is not attached to the day. Of the men polled, 90% said they couldn’t care less and Valentine’s Day is just stupid and useless. Most men said they were cynical about it.
The third dark side is commercial manipulation. The saying is true that women manage holidays and Madison Ave manages women. You see the mass mailings with the skimpy nities and the undies, the heart candies, the flower ads. Recently I saw a TV advertisement showing a 1950’s version of a Valentine ad for a heart box of chocolates contrasted with the modern Valentine’s Day technological gift that cost $150. So now the price has really gone up. The $50 roses are not going to cut it anymore. Ugh!
In my survey of 40 people, I found that only 10% of people were happy with Valentine’s Day as it is. Most men and women were ignoring that day for themselves, though many parents use Valentine’s Day to share something with their children or grandchildren. One woman said that when Valentine’s warrants a business day off, then she would take the day seriously.
Check my blog tomorrow for How did Valentine’s Day start, and what could it become?