Romance Isn’t Dead

Valentine’s Day. It’s that time of year where the expectations almost never match reality. That time of year when you are bombarded with advertisements to buy flowers, jewelry, fancy dinners, trips – whatever you may get, but no matter what you do – just don’t forget your Valentine! Talk about pressure! I have always had a love-hate with Valentine’s Day. On one end, I see just a day that society has decided was a day that meant something and for marketing to take advantage of to guilt you into spending money to prove your love for someone. Maybe that all sounds cynical. But it’s true – you don’t need a day to show someone you care about them. In fact, if you only show someone you care for them on one day a year – my guess is they won’t be around the next Valentine’s Day. But that’s my left-brained, logical, slightly cynical side talking. 

On the other end, the right-sided, romantic, optimistic side of me kind of likes it. I like that there’s a day dedicated to showing someone you care about them and I don’t see an issue with setting aside time to plan something special. The pressure put on the day is completely uncalled for – but I do like the idea of it. 

So I guess the first question you may wonder is what Christian and I did for Valentine’s Day. Well first of all, we celebrated on Friday – because who wants to celebrate on a Monday Night? Monday is for watching some reality TV after dinner and going to bed early. Wow, I sounded really old there. But you  know what I mean. I don’t typically go out on a Monday night. So we moved ours to Friday. 

To be honest, we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. We don’t give each other gifts or anything, but rather just usually have a date night – which we also don’t reserve for Valentine’s Day. We actually are really good about having date nights. We usually have them at least once a week. And we dress up, and have a wonderful night. So really, Valentine’s Day is another date night. But this year, I was inspired because it was our first Valentine’s as a  married couple. So to Christian’s surprise, I did actually buy a gift. 

Not one of those expensive ones that advertisers told me to get. And actually I wasn’t really planning on getting a gift, but I was charging the car at a Target recently and like most things in Target – something caught my eye and I made an impulse purchase. I just decided to wait until Valentine’s Day to give it to Christian. 

I was wasting some time as the car was charging – very dangerous activity by the way. Wasting time in any store always means you’ll be spending money. Always. Like when Ginza was a little puppy and we were trying to train her to walk on a leash. It was too cold out so we would take her to Nordstrom and walk her for hours. Now those were expensive dog walking trips! 

But I was walking around Target and I came across a coffee mug display. There were these cute, white mugs with gold MR. and MRS. printed on them. We drink a lot of coffee in our house – I mean a lot. We have an espresso machine, a 12 cup drip machine and a french press. So coffee mugs are things we will always use. And these were cute – and we just got married. So bam, impulse buy. 

Then I was on TikTok, as per usual, and this 100 Dates Calendar kept getting advertised. It’s basically this calendar-like object that has 100 squares you can scratch off for different date ideas. I just thought it was really cute because it forces you to do something different than maybe you wouldn’t have planned. So I bought that too. 

If that wasn’t enough – which it was, because like I said, Christian and I don’t buy each other Valentine’s Day gifts, I also bought tickets to a show. We love chefs and trying new restaurants. We also love the theater. So when I heard that a fabulous, famous chef in Chicago – Rick Bayless had partnered with Windy City Playhouse to develop a show, I was intrigued. It was more of an experience than a show. This interactive play, called A Recipe for Disaster, put you in the middle as part of an influencer night at a new restaurant. 

During the show, you received four tastings of food along with wine and cocktail pairings as part of this influencer night while chaos was going on all around you. The main chef didn’t show up, but the health inspector did. A competitor was trying to sabotage, there were dynamics between the characters and all sorts of crazy things happening. I have to say when I told Christian what we were doing, he didn’t really understand – which is probably because I didn’t really know how to explain it! But we had a really fun time. 

The one thing I will say about it is the food wasn’t great. Which was shocking considering the big chef name that was a playwright of the show. But it was something different than we would normally do, so in a way, I had started the 100 Dates  without even knowing it! So that was our Valentine’s Day – not too bad I think! 

But according to a recent study, Millennials place a higher importance on the cost of a Valentine’s Day gift than any other generation. Some other fun stats: 

  • People who have been in a relationship between 2-5 years spend 79% more on a Valentine’s Day gift or dinner than someone in a relationship for 16 years or more – this isn’t fair. Cmon people – if anything, the longer you are together, the more you should put in effort to continue to show them you care. 
  • People who are satisfied with their relationship spend 50% more on Valentine’s Day gifts 
  • 1 out of 5 adults have been upset by their partner spending too little on a gift – shame on you! 

I do see some of this play out when I compare my boomer parents and my own spending habits for Valentine’s Day. Growing up, we prioritized spending time together. My dad would get me some flowers and my mom would always have the Dove dark chocolate hearts around the house, but it wasn’t really about gifts. It was more about telling someone you love them and spending time together. 

Even this year, when I told my mom that I had gotten Christian and asked her what she was doing for Valentine’s Day, she was like, eh, nothing. Just ordering in. Here was one of the most surprising stats of them all though – apparently, the generation willing to spend the most? GenZ! 

Yeah! GenZ is willing to spend the most amount of money across all categories from a romantic getaway, jewelry, dinner, lingerie, perfume, wine, flowers – you name it! Awww, how cute. Who would have thought they were that into it? To be honest, I’m shocked GenZ isn’t calling us all out for supporting this stereotypical holiday that glorifies gender stereotypes and patriarchal relationship roles. But hey, I was wrong on this one! 

So maybe you have plans for Valentine’s Day, or maybe you don’t. First of all, don’t feel guilty either way. Valentine’s Day can be whatever you want it to be. It can be filled with extravagant gifts from a jewelry store or homemade cards from your kids. Maybe you’ll go to a fancy dinner, or cook your favorite dish together at home. Maybe you’ll cuddle by the fire, or maybe you’ll draw a bath for yourself and enjoy a glass of wine and a face mask. No matter if you spend a dollar, Valentine’s Day really is just a day where love wins. Where love is prioritized. And is that a bad thing? The reality is I think we could use more Valentine’s Days. I hope you are feeling the love today and if not, go do something for yourself that makes you feel loved. Because the best love of all, is the love we give to ourselves. 

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