Love is Patient, Love is Kind, It Plans Valentine’s Day, It Does Not Try to Get You to Do it Yourself

by Rachel on February 9, 2011

Eric and I were walking through Target on Saturday morning and as we approached the checkout, he turned to me and said, “So…you haven’t given me any hints about what you’d like to do for Valentine’s Day.”

I put on my best, “What day?” face, as though I was completely unaware that one of my favorite holidays was approaching.

“Hm, I don’t know,” I said, turning away from the large Valentine’s display I was looking at. “What do you want to do for Valentine’s Day?”

Unsurprisingly, he didn’t have an answer for that, and the conversation died once we got to the checkout counter. We got back to it later that day. He asked me what I wanted to do or what I thought were good gift ideas. I answered all questions with a long pause and then another question. “What is YOUR idea of a good Valentine’s Day date? What do YOU want as a gift?”

But whenever I’d ask what he wanted, he’d raise his eyebrows and get this little smirk on his face, at which point I’d have to say, “Not an option!”

(I’m pretty sure every woman who has ever asked her boyfriend what he wants as a gift has gotten this same smirk, as every guy thinks of the same one thing they want when their girlfriend poses that question. Once the smirk has been thrown out there, every girlfriend then gets affronted and huffy at the smirk, because…no. Just…no.)

“You wanna make a sex tape? We can make a sex tape.” I offered.

Sometimes I think Eric doesn’t know when to take me seriously anymore, because he just shrugged, like I’d asked him if he’d rather go to Borders or Barnes & Noble.

Suddenly, as we were ineffectively discussing plans, he realized what day of the week February 14th actually fell on. Total dread came across his face and I just knew.

“Rachel…this might actually be the end of our relationship,” he started.

I was silent, so deep was my shock, awe, and disappointment.

Actually, there was no shock involved. I was silent due to his amazing predictability. And also my disappointment.

“Does…K State play next Monday night?” I said.

He sighed. “It’s not just that they play,” he said. “But they play KU at home. If it were any other game…”

Given that Monday isn’t an ideal day for a Valentine’s Day date, I had already considered that it might be better to make plans for the weekend before. On the other hand, the fact that he was requesting that we make plans for a different day due to a basketball game was enough to make me forget that I had considered that because…well, just because, you know? (I know you know.)

I told him I’d take his request into consideration.

Sunday night, we got back on the topic of Valentine’s Day again.

“You have to give me some direction,” he said. “Hints at least. I have no idea what you want to do or what I should give you.”

The truth was, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I only know what I didn’t want to do. A little road trip to a little Texas B&B had sounded like a good idea, but we did the hotel room thing for New Year’s, so it just didn’t thrill me. I also didn’t want to go out for a nice dinner. I’d rather a guy spend money on something that I really want instead of a one-time thing that’s just going to make me gain weight. And while I wasn’t opposed to cooking, I didn’t want to make me cooking the main event. I mean, I cook for us all the time, so to make that special would mean a lot of effort on my part. And since this is basically as close to I get as an effort-free day until I get knocked up and start milking Mother’s Day for all it’s worth, I wanted to keep my effort pretty minimal. So I told him that (except the part about Mother’s Day).

“OK, that’s a start,” he said. “What would you like to do?”

I sat there thinking in silence for a few minutes, chewing my bottom lip, racking my brain for recent Groupons that had seemed like a great date idea. Finally I said, “I want to do something…that is…fun!”

He was not as excited about this hint as I had expected.

The thing was, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or even what I would want as a gift. Per Rule #23, Valentine’s Day gifts should either be an experience gift or something luxurious or even frivolous — everyone should feel a little spoiled — but I had no ideas. Normally I am so easy to delight and shop for, so this bothered me. I thought I was more materialistic than this. My Things I Want But Don’t Need List is like my Netflix queue — I always keep six items in it. Then I realized, Oh…well, perhaps the problem is I’m just spoiled every day. I’m sure Eric/my mother/Chase Bank would all agree on that.

I looked deep into his eyes. “Eric,” I said. “What you’re doing is pretty much asking me to plan my own birthday party.”

Which he was! I mean, let’s be honest — that’s why I hadn’t brought up Valentine’s Day on my own. The whole fun thing about Valentine’s Day is that it’s special but, on some level, a surprise or a treat. I know that all guys want direction from girls on what they should do for Valentine’s Day and I get it — they’d rather know so they don’t mess up. But they don’t seem to understand that that ruins the most exciting part about Valentine’s Day. Where is the romance in that? You want me to send you a list for a gift that is really just supposed to be a thoughtful little thing? That’s actually worse than planning your own birthday party. That’s like planning your own surprise birthday party.

I sighed. “Eric,” I said. “I’m not saying that Valentine’s Day is a test, exactly, but…”

I tried not to crack a smile as I said this. Tried and failed.

“It’s an opportunity!” I said in an attempt to recover.

“See? You can’t even say this with a straight face!” he said.

It wasn’t a test though. It’s not like I knew exactly what I wanted to do and would be pissed if he didn’t do it. But he continued to make his case for having direction, arguing, as far as I could tell, for all of mankind at that point. If he could just convince me to tell him exactly what I wanted, he’d be bringing men everywhere one step closer to not screwing up Valentine’s Day.

“Fine,” I said. “I’ll tell you exactly what I want to do. But then I also get to choose what day we do it. You plan it — you pick the night.”

When faced with the choices of missing a basketball game or blowing Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend decided to take his chances with planning Valentine’s Day. I’m going to pretend it’s because he’s super confident in his date-planning abilities.

We’ve discussed this before in reference to Christmas and ultimately, it seemed that for Christmas, it’s best to give a list. But Valentine’s Day, is, to me, a different beast, and I do not like the idea of planning my own date or making a list. But before I go on with gift suggestions and tell you how this conversation ended, I want to hear your thoughts on the matter of Valentine’s Day planning!

Have you had this conversation with an SO before (including the smirk)? Do you look at Valentine’s Day as a test/opportunity/surprise party…or are you happy to give very clear directions? And, most important…what do you think are good Valentine’s Day ideas?

Please share — men everywhere need to know. (And so do I.)

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephanie February 9, 2011 at 9:14 am

Valentines Day is also my son’s birthday. It’s hard to get overly romantical when the little guy is pumped about it being his day. :) So we’re celebrating this weekend instead of Monday (plus…I don’t need a bangover Tuesday at work) and I think our plans are to do something we haven’t done before. We’re planning a whole day of activities together so there’s things I want to do and things he wants to do. Every year we’ve been together he’s surprised me with artwork that I’ve seen at some point during the year. I’d love it if he did that again.

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2 Dori February 9, 2011 at 9:17 am

“‘You wanna make a sex tape? We can make a sex tape.’ I offered.

Sometimes I think Eric doesn’t know when to take me seriously anymore, because he just shrugged, like I’d asked him if he’d rather go to Borders or Barnes & Noble.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA that is awesome. That is gold.

I actually think V Day is stupid. When I had a boyfriend, I refused to celebrate it. I think that if you love someone and want to show them, surprise them on a random day with a gift or flowers or whatever. Don’t need a stupid day assigned to this. But I know you love the holiday…. so I hope Eric comes through. I am sure he will.

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3 Kitten February 9, 2011 at 9:19 am

smirk means anal, doesn’t it.

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4 Lindsay February 9, 2011 at 9:29 am

My bf is usually pretty good about these things, but this year (our 3rd v-day together) he started asking me what day I wanted my flowers delivered! excuse me? I know I usually help plan the date, but I do not need to know when my flowers are going to be delivered!

Yes, I’d be expecting flowers anyway (I love them), but way to kill the romance buddy!

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5 Kaytee February 9, 2011 at 9:56 am

I’ve never really had a good Valentine’s Day. The only ones that count (read: when I had a serious boyfriend) were complete disasters, but one in particular stands out. (Sorry, this comment is going to be so long it could be it’s own blog post.)

It was freshman year and my boyfriend was the world’s worst gift giver (he gave me a mini fridge for Christmas!!) and my sister decided to drop a hint that there was a necklace that I loved and had wanted for years: a key. When I opened the jewelry box, the charm was a KITTY. And it was uggggly. After a long conversation (“why would you think this was something I’d like?”) that turned into an argument (“SERIOUSLY DO YOU KNOW ME AT ALL”), he admitted that my sister had dropped him a hint. He pulled up the message on Facebook to show me and then realized that he didn’t know how to read. Same guy, same day, answered his phone during a dinner I had made for him and had a 30 minute long conversation with his dad. And forgot the wine. And I dated him for almost a whole year after that.

Anyway, on my last birthday, I got a key necklace. My immediate reaction was “who told you!!!!” but no one had told him. He just knew it was what I would like. *swoon* Unfortunately, we won’t even get to talk to each other this year on Valentine’s Day (Ranger School, of course), but I’m still planning on including something special in his care package. Hopefully he planned ahead, but if he didn’t, I will (try to) understand. If not, there’s always next year.

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6 Paige February 9, 2011 at 10:07 am

We’ve never made much of a big deal out of Valentine’s Day. We might do some small gifts or something along those lines, but otherwise we don’t put a ton of focus on it. Last year I gave Nathan a build-your-own-crazy-straw kit and we spent and hour constructing crazy straws in Panera before calling it a day.

Since he’ll be out of town this year, Nathan keeps mentioning that maybe we’ll go to dinner or something when he gets back. In the meantime, I’m trying to come up with something creative to mail to his hotel room while he’s at the conference!

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7 shelby February 9, 2011 at 11:08 am

Now I am really curious to see what Eric comes up with!

I think Valentine’s Day dinner is all on me this year. We don’t do gifts, but I did tell Drew that he needs to be home from work at a reasonable hour (i.e., before 10 PM) so that I don’t have to eat alone. Stupid Monday holiday!

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8 Caitlin February 9, 2011 at 11:08 am

I’ve never really been in a serious relationship on V-Day so I just use it as a day to tell those who ARE in my life how much I love them. I sent a few little things out last week.

However, I really like to be able to live vicariously through you. Esp the sex tape part. You talking about it, that is.

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9 Stina February 9, 2011 at 11:23 am

I’ve of the same mind-set as Dori. I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. The romance is nice and I’m certainly not knocking it, but at the same time, to me, it feels contrived. It’s happening because someone says it has to occur on February 14th. I would much rather receive flowers for no reason at all or come home to discover the cleaning fairy (read: the boyfriend) showed up while I was out and washed all the nasty dishes I left in the sink because I’m horrible at cleaning up after myself when I cook.

All that said, my perfect Valentine’s Day would involve my boyfriend doing all of the cooking for me.

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10 Kim February 9, 2011 at 11:28 am

I’m struggling trying to figure out what to do. We both started the relationship saying that we’re not into Valentine’s Day. And I wasn’t. But now that it’s serious I’m a little more interested in celebrating again. But I don’t want to go out to eat. I don’t want to cook, as that is what I do at home anyway. And I don’t want a lot of money spent. My one good idea was to go out to breakfast before work, but I have a gym class at 6am and I don’t think either of us would be very excited to eat before then.

At least I got him a card from Flytrap!

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11 Savannah February 9, 2011 at 11:38 am

I consider all gift giving holidays a test (is that wrong?). I pride myself on being a thoughtful, creative gift-giver and expect the same in return (kind of like oral). Last year my GF was out of work but surprised me with an amazingly sweet gift bag full of cute pink things she picked up at Walgreen’s (umm who doesn’t love chenille socks) and I loved it. I made her dinner (chorizo and shrimp stuffed poblanos). This year we are going to Zumba on Monday (sweating together=sexy) and we still haven’t figured out what we are doing for the weekend. Maybe a romantic lunch after our weekly two mile hike.

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12 Whitney February 9, 2011 at 11:46 am

Valentine’s Day is such a test. In fact, looking back, all of the VDay times I’ve been dating someone I put them to that test. The excuse of “Hallmark holiday” is grounds for (eventual) termination.

Have fun!

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13 Leah (Nutritionista) February 9, 2011 at 11:51 am

My boy and I had our second or third date on Valentine’s Day (total accident… it was just the day we were both available). It was so awkward because I don’t think either of us wanted to mention it, but clearly we both knew what day it was. I think at that point, we weren’t sure if we were going to be just friends or actually date since we hadn’t kissed or anything yet.

I told myself that if we didn’t kiss after having a really cute date on Valentine’s Day — he picked up soul food and we watched Real Housewives while snuggling, which is pretty much the perfect date to me — it was never going to happen. But we kissed, and the rest is history! Haha.

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14 Sable February 9, 2011 at 11:57 am

I actually don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day. There’s normally something going on, one of us has to work, and besides every restaurant in town is PACKED and the cost of flowers skyrockets and I’m allergic to most flowers ANYWAY…the whole proposition just isn’t romantic.

HOWEVER.

I do like when my hubby takes us for a romantic weekend at a B&B or gets us a couple’s massage just as a random surprise gift for no reason. :)

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15 Meghan B. February 9, 2011 at 11:59 am

You should tell Eric any chance the Cats had of winning Monday is out the window with the new Curtis Kelly drama. That being said, my husband and I will still be spending our V-Day cheering them on.

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16 Triz February 9, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Wow, I’m with Meghan on this. It’s noble of Eric to be willing to pass on the game, but is he going to be able to not even check the score? I know my Kansas guy couldn’t, so I just pass on any form of communication on that kind of (probably bad ending) game night, even if I am myself watching. Sports ranting is not so romantic. But you might learn new swears! (So, kind of a present :) )

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17 Triz February 10, 2011 at 12:44 am

My Kansas guy was basically speechless having heard what Eric was ready to do (mind you, mine is KU, so his team is going to win. :p )

Maybe you should think about this? If it is something he really wants to watch, you could make it something you have fun with together.

Because, if you two are together forever, those teams are also going to be part of your life. Forever.

You are putting your finger in the dam and, my friend, it will not hold.

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18 Rachel L February 10, 2011 at 2:08 am

My BF is also a die-hard Jayhawk, and as I read this, I asked him if he realized that the KU v K-State game was on Valentine’s day.

He said no big deal, he’d DVR.

I looked surprised. For a second, I thought that might be the only gift I need.

He reminded me he DVR’d the Mizzou game, which was a much bigger deal. He did it so that he wouldn’t miss meeting his trainer at the gym (and be out $55 for nothing).

I told him that it was sweet he’d DVR, but it’d be ok just to watch it; we could celebrate another day.

However, I just remembered he has to meet his trainer next Monday night anyway. So we’ll celebrate this weekend anyway. But it was a cute exchange :)

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19 Alexandra February 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Last year my boyfriend and I went all out with gifts for each other since it was our first VDay together. Candy, presents, cards, dinner, etc. It was fun, romantic, and actually sort of expected.

This year I think we’ll do something low-key like sip champagne and dip strawberries in chocolate. I’ll probably also cook dinner, per usual, since it’s a Monday night. I’m not big on going out to dinner on holidays because I think both the service & food are usually subpar.

In terms of gifts, my mom usually gives him hints (read: tells him what to get and where to buy it), but this year I sent him a link to a makeup palette I like. I agree that gifts on Valentine’s Day should be a ‘want’ not a ‘need’…it’s more fun that way =)

Looking forward to hearing how your VDay unfolds!

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20 marie February 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm

The past 2 years for Vday, Sean and I have just cooked a big dinner together. I’m on the fence with this whole Valentine’s Day business…part of me believes it’s just a silly Hallmark holiday and that every day actions are more important…the other part of me really likes getting spoiled. hmmmm, decisions decisions.

P.S. LOVING all the pink/red conversation hearts!

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21 Lauren at KeepItSweet February 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I really agree with you on the thought going into V day. My husband is planning something (we are celebrating on a different night) for us that is a surprise which is the best part, almost doesn’t matter what we do! I actually have to plan the actual night and am having trouble being creative.

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22 Carolyn @ Lo vin' Losing February 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I love my husband, but he is NOT good at celebrations/holidays. Which is why I’ve made a new rule where for all celebrations except holidays we buy something for the house. At least then it’s an investment. And he’s more likely to actually get me something. ;) I think he’ll be receiving bi-fold closet doors. Sex-Ay! Ha!

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23 Stephanie @ LoveLaughterLight February 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I make it a point to listen and note throughout the year the things my SO would like and tell them not to buy anything for themselves within the month before the holiday. The SOs of holidays past have all done “the Eric”. I’ve pretty much lost faith in the creativity of man! :)

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24 Rachel's Mom February 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm

“Then I realized, Oh…well, perhaps the problem is I’m just spoiled every day. I’m sure Eric/my mother/Chase Bank would all agree on that.”

‘Nuff said….. :)

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25 Jess February 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm

valentine’s gifts should be just like any other gift you give your significant other, something you know they would really like, that they haven’t bought themselves yet. oh and candy, definitely candy.

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26 Rachel February 9, 2011 at 5:33 pm

I wish Eric knew what “any other gift you give your significant other” was…

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27 Jasmine @ Eat Move Write February 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Honestly? My husband is really bad at planning dates, especially dates that are “supposed” to be romantic. The best and most romantic times we’ve ever had were total accidents, and I’ve come to just accept that if something fun and romantic needs to be planned, then I need to do it. In that way, I generally plan what we do on Vday. It’s not awesome, but it works. I know he loves me, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters. :)

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28 Talitha February 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I am planning VDay this year because we are moving countries in two weeks and he is running around organising everything in Swedish while I pack our possessions and listen to music ;)
I like experiences over gifts for VDay and the only one given the smirk is me!

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29 Eunice February 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Kohy and I don’t really celebrate V-day. A few years ago I told him that I just wanted a card, so ever since then we exchange cards. There’s something about getting a card with a little love note inside. It’s perfect.

That said…

An ex-boyfriend once made me a card, with glitter, pink heart cutouts and all. Inside he drew a picture of a tent. When I looked outside, he had set up a tent in his backyard with Christmas lights and flowers, etc. It was a little corny, but sweet. I hope that wasn’t wrong of me to bring up the ex! Ha.

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30 Rachel February 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm

That is pretty cute!

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31 Amanda February 9, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I think I feel almost exactly the same about V-day as you do, Rachel. I’ve always loved the holiday, and always had a boyfriend when it rolled around (or, at least the last 10 years I have). I LOVE surprises, so I want my guy to plan something sweet and romantic, and ideally, all by himself. But then my controlling nature sneaks up around a week before the holiday, and I can’t hold it in any longer, so I ask, “So….what are we going to do for Valentine’s Day this year?” And then I almost always have a part in planning it. I am the definition of passive-aggressive. I’ve yet to have the stellar, over-the-top romantic outcome I’ve dreamed about. Though, last year was pretty great, as I went home to Arkansas to visit my long-distance boyfriend, and he had flowers, a watermelon (my fave), and a love letter, sealed with a home-made wax red heart waiting for me. And, actually, I’d been hinting at a love letter for months, so I was thrilled to finally have one. Which, as I type that, I realize is quite sad. Oh well, I hope you get what you want this year!

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32 Rachel February 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm

A love letter and flowers!!? That sounds SO perfect. I would totally love a love letter.

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33 Clare @ Fitting It All In February 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm

I definitely think Valentine’s Day is more special when the guy plans it himself. But it takes a certain type of person, I suppose. I’m visiting my boyfriend in Florida, and I know we’re cooking together one night and going out one night, but I don’t know anything about gifts!

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34 Mel February 9, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Sophomore year of college I remember daydreaming that my lack of flowers or gifts was actually because at sorority dinner I was going to be surprised by my guy’s fraternity stampeding in with flowers and a sweet, public love confession from him. Totally one of your “Delusional, I know”s.

I hope your holiday turns out super special!

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35 Jennifer February 10, 2011 at 10:33 am

I like it when the guy plans our night too, but I’m a bit of a control-freak so I have a hard time trying not to guess or figure it out. This year I just said: tell me where to be, at what time, and what to wear. As for the gift, we decided not to do gifts this year, just Valentine’s-type things. I was thinking of making us cupcakes for a dessert and then making/giving him a card…but that seems kinda lame! What else do you give a guy that’s not too cheesy? Candy and flowers doesn’t seem right!

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36 Kionda February 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I do kind of look at Valentine’s day as a surprise party but not just for women. I am very comfortable planning a wonderful evening for my man doing what he enjoys…maybe even cooking for him. I’ll get enjoyment out of that whole experience which will make for a great V day. If my man wants to surprise me with something all the better. Giving hints and making lists kind of ruins it for me.

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37 anon February 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I never was much interested in valentines day, and so some time ago I declared that valentine’s day would be observed by spending the day having sex. Usually, this involves checking into a hotel room with a nice hot tub, or at least a large walk-in shower. Sometime it includes “something new.” You might not see the need for an annual holiday just for sex, but after you’ve been together awhile, and when you are busy people, maybe with kids, the sex life can get a little short changed. Every now and again, it is nice to just make sex your only priority for a day.

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38 AliSue February 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

First off, I have to say that we are also doing V-Day on Sunday due to my man having evening classes until 9:15pm. On that note I figured I would just work a double at work and give my staff the chance to be with their loves that night, since I can’t. My amazing guy has one big downfall and that is V-Day, he feels that we HAVE to dress up and go out to a fancy place for dinner. No lie, I hate doing that. This will be year 3 and we are going to a place that the view is amazing (Towers of America S.A. Tx) but I only eat one thing on the menu. He doesn’t do gifts for V-Day because he feels that dinner is all that is needed. Really I would just like him to bring me home some fun flowers, a funny card, and clean the kitchen. That would be the perfect V-day for me.

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39 Allison @ Happy Tales February 15, 2011 at 12:17 am

OMG i love this!!!! I seriously could have written this myself (hence why it is 12AM on V-day night… boyfriend didn’t exactly plan anything so now I’m reading blogs. I guess I could just go to sleep. Hrmph.) But yes, that conversation totally happened.

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40 Caitlin (EatFeats) February 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I plan Valentine’s Day. I thought this was normal until my boyfriend told me that his coworkers thought he was “a lazy, bad boyfriend.” Oops!

I actually think it is really nice that he allows me to plan Valentine’s Day. He wants me to have the best holiday possible, and is willing to relinquish control in order to make that happen. This year (we’re celebrating late), we are going to a Chocolate and Beer festival, so we will BOTH have the best day!

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