Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day doesn’t leave a lot of options for guys. Either you’re a consumerist sheep surrendering to the masses and buying into a corporately invented holiday or you’re a jerk who doesn’t buy flowers for his girlfriend. There’s not much you can do to avoid these options, and here’s why.
Just the Facts
You could point out that there are 3 different saints who are honored on this day and that the modern church generally doesn’t even do this anymore. You could argue that the first time romantic notions became involved with the holiday were in the 14th century in a Chaucer poem that probably referred to a different date and Valentine altogether. You can talk about how Hallmark invented the whole thing to sell cards (but you’d be wrong since this practice dated centuries before the company existed). But in the end, what would you really be gaining? The day has a meaning in contemporary contexts all its own and you choosing to ignore that fact doesn’t mean everyone else will.
What’s the Point?
So at this point you are basically left with objecting to the holiday on moral grounds. “Why is it so important to celebrate our relationship on this specific day when I can give you flowers all the time?” (Note, this argument is only semi-valid if you actually do give your girl flowers all the time). There is definitely something to consider here but there’s too much pressure from outside forces to theorize the holiday out of existence. People are going to snoop and ask what you did for Valentine’s Day and answering that question alone is annoying enough. I’ve learned that simply keeping up with the Joneses comes into play- if your significant other’s girlfriends are all talking about where their men brought them then there’s bound to be some resentment heading your way if you didn’t do anything.
Anti Valentine’s Day
I’m pretty much against Valentine’s Day but in a very ambivalent way. I’m much more likely to forget about the day entirely than campaign against the existence of it. Unsurprisingly, I’ve found that works out much more nicely for me when I’m single. A very different opposing stance is getting more popular, and that’s the group of people who want to go to a singles party and blast songs not about LOVE but about HATE and generally be cool because they’re lonely. But these guys and gals are just trying way too hard. If you care about something enough to plan events to pretend that you don’t care then you are obviously miserable about being single. Here’s a secret: Not being in a relationship has plenty of benefits that you might as well enjoy while you can, and ironically one of them is going out on Valentine’s Day and picking up on women very easily because THEY’RE miserable about being single. So really there’s no reason to rally against the holiday unless you feel like you are jumping through unnecessary hoops for the damn thing.
On Your Own Terms
And that’s what it comes down to. If you’re in a relationship with someone who even slightly cares about the trappings of Valentine’s Day, you might as well go along with it- but celebrate it on your own terms. If you think flowers and teddy bears are cheesy then you can skip that part and just go out to a nice dinner. If you don’t want put up with reservations and expensive prix fixe menus then just take your girlfriend to a nice dinner some other night around then. The trick of Valentine’s Day is that it’s not time-dependent- there’s no real benefit to celebrating it on February 14 instead of the 13 or 15 (unless of course you’re single looking to get some phone numbers- in that case the weekend prior is sufficient). This isn’t New Year’s that requires a very specific time component, or Halloween where you get to see a bunch of people dressed up. In fact, Valentine’s Day is quite the opposite, where the whole point is to go out as a couple and enjoy each other’s company. You can do that any time, which admittedly is partially why I find the custom silly, but it’s also equally silly to raise a big stink about such a non issue.