Q: I’m 29, I just got out of a two-year relationship and I’ve recently started the process of putting myself out there in hopes of meeting the right gal. I just started dating a very sweet woman who has all the qualities that I am looking for in a partner. We’ve been on one date, which went extremely well, and we are going on our second date this week. All signs are pointing in the right direction with this gal and I just realized that Valentine’s Day is looming on the calendar.
Can you provide any advice or insight as to how to handle V-Day when it’s right at the start of a new relationship? Obviously a million roses and jewelry are not the right approach, but do you just ignore the holiday? Do I even attempt to see her on Valentine’s Day? Or not try to see her and just call to say happy V-Day?
A: Is it February already? I’m all about waking up early on the 2nd to see what Punxsutawney Phil thinks about the remainder of winter, but I’d just as soon stay in bed on the 14th. It’s not so much a stance against mass consumerism as it is my annoyance at not being able to have dinner at the restaurant of my choosing, not to mention the fact that Valentine’s Day has become sort of a discriminatory holiday.
Back in the day — say, 18th-century England, when the custom of giving paper valentines to friends and family members became a thing — this holiday was for everyone. Now, however, we’re inundated with TV and radio commercials attempting to persuade us to spend hundreds of dollars (a mere seven weeks after Christmas, mind you) on that special someone in our life. Well, what if there’s no special someone in your life? It’s no wonder that for every reservation for a romantic table for two on Valentine’s Day, there’s a group of three or four single friends toasting at an Anti-Valentine’s Day party at the bar next door.
Ideally, you could hit the ultimate trifecta of preserving the spirit of Valentine’s Day, acknowledging an appreciation for your new sweetie and not spending a fortune by proudly presenting her with a homemade paper valentine. Unfortunately, modern culture would dictate that this is a strange display of behavior for a grown man she’s really only just met. Buying a gift is a swing and a miss, any way you approach it: Going with flowers or candy makes you an unimaginative cliché, and trying to buy something meaningful for someone you barely know is a crapshoot. I’m not a fan of greeting cards in general, and after only a couple of dates, that would be inappropriate anyway.
Go with your instinct and just drop her a line on V-Day. There’s no need to make it awkward; you can even start the conversation with something like, “I would have felt silly giving you a gift today since we’re only just getting to know each other, but it would have been sillier not to acknowledge it at all. Happy Valentine’s Day, I think you’re rad.”
And if it wouldn’t rustle anyone’s schedule, ask if she wants to do something casual. Avoid the dinnertime madness by having a later meal, sitting at the bar of a restaurant you both like.
It’s Valentine’s Day, a centuries-old holiday celebrated worldwide in a number of different ways, so just go with it. Even if you’re completely against the consumerism of the holiday and your new special lady friend swears she doesn’t give a crap about it either, you still can’t ignore the giant, pink, heart-shaped elephant in the room.