It’s Valentine’s Day, friends. Are you ready?
(Do you even care?)
Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. Even so, for too many years I always had some lingering post-holiday letdown when it didn’t go the way I thought it should go. It’s weird. Like, I genuinely didn’t care about Valentines but I felt like I should care and then when I didn’t do anything (because I didn’t care) I felt disappointed.
Eventually I realized all those negative feelings stemmed from my expectations about the holiday. In my head, it should this and that, and it usually isn’t. Partly because I don’t put any effort into meeting those expectations, and partly because even if I did, that’s not what I want anyway.
If you’re like me and you know you want something from this mushy pink-and-red holiday but you’d really like to avoid that letdown tomorrow, here’s what I do to set myself up for a great day:
What are your expectations?
Really look at what you expect to go down today. What kinds of things would make it feel like Valentine’s Day to you?
Is it about the cutesy cards + gifts your kids give their friends at school? Or is it more about the red roses + lingerie? Do you want to be showered with balloons + teddy bears + rose petals + fancy chocolates? Are you shopping for the perfect little black dress because you expect a reservation at the hot new French restaurant in town?
Identify your expectations for the day and then ask yourself
Why do you expect these things?
It’s one thing to expect that fancy dinner reservation. It’s an entirely different thing to want it.
Do you even like overpriced French cuisine? Are you sure you want to wear 6-inch heels and spanx that make you too uncomfortable to enjoy dessert? If so, congratulations! You’ve found the middle of the expectations + desires Venn diagram! Enjoy it!
But maybe you’re more of a burgers + fries, t-shirt + jeans kinda person. Maybe you think you should want to get dressed up for a romantic candlelit dinner…but deep down you’re cringing at the price or the dress code or the thought of escargot.
In that case, take a minute to figure out why you expect this thing you don’t even want. I’ve got a hunch that it’s related to a lifetime of movies + TV + commercials telling you, “This is what people do on Valentine’s Day!” Sometimes we internalize messages that don’t resonate with us without even realizing it. But guess what?
You aren’t obligated to do what they tell you you should do. Your relationship isn’t doomed if you don’t do things that are traditionally romantic. You are no less loved, no less valuable, no less “normal” (whatever that means) if you reject those expectations.
If what you expect and what you enjoy don’t match up, pull a quick Elsa and LET IT GO.
Identify what you REALLY want out of this holiday.
Maybe it’s a night out for dinner + dancing + decadent desserts. Maybe it’s snuggling on the couch and watching your favorite comedy. Or maybe you want to skip Valentine’s Day altogether. That’s fine too!
You are allowed to make the day whatever you want it to be. No societal expectations attached.
Are your desires realistic?
And now we bring it back to earth. For example, if you want an overnight stay at a swanky resort but you’ve got five kids and a shoestring budget, that’s probably not realistic. But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to disappointment and doing nothing.
What about your desires is most important to you? A massage? Time away from the kids? Sleeping in? Room service? See if there’s a way you can work that into your actual life. Trade babysitting with a friend. Throw together some overnight French toast to eat in bed the next morning.
Get creative and find ways to meet your holiday expectations within the constraints of your real life.
Tell your person what you want.
Here’s the key to this whole thing. To get what you want, you’ve got two options: ask for it or make it happen.
Option 1: tell your person you would like X, Y, and Z for Valentine’s Day. Chances are they’ll be thrilled that they don’t have to guess and risk disappointing you. However, since you can’t make them do things exactly the way you want, there’s an element of risk involved here. You may be pleasantly surprised, but you may also not get anything you asked for. If having the “perfect Valentine’s Day” is SUPER important to you, try
Option 2: make arrangements to celebrate the holiday exactly as you want. Buy the movie tickets. Make the reservations. Order the flowers. There’s no chance for someone letting you down, because you’re the one making the magic here.
Either way, let me shout it for all the people in the back:
TALK TO YOUR PERSON!!!
Valentine’s Day isn’t about just you anyway. It’s about love. And if you’re planning a celebration, the person you love should be involved, don’t you think?
Discuss your expectations, desires, and plans together. Make it a fun day for both of you!
As for us, we’ll probably watch the Olympics and eat ice cream, then tomorrow we’ll go stock up on clearance Reese’s hearts and Red Velvet OREOs…because we love each other AND we love the Olympics + inexpensive treats. Expectations: met. Maybe next year we’ll do something fancy.
We’ll check our expectations then and see.