So you’ve finally found The One (or at least The One For The Foreseeable Future) and you’ve committed to a serious relationship. Now what? In our new weekly column, Life After Dating, we’ll discuss the unique joys and challenges of coupledom.
“What should we do for Valentine’s Day?” I asked my boyfriend.
He shrugged. I shrugged back. We looked at each other.
“I hate those prix fixe dinners,” he said.
“Yeah, me too,” I agreed. “So what then? What can we do that’s not dinner?”
We mutually shrugged once again and went back to talking about documentaries we wanted to see.
And that was that. We’re not doing anything for Valentine’s Day. Well, nothing special, anyway.
After a stretch of eight Valentine’s Days spent single (with the exception of one February 14th five years ago when I was dating someone who cooked dinner for me and then we spent the rest of the night fighting), I thought I would be more excited to celebrate the holiday with someone I really, truly love. But honestly, I’m feeling kind of meh about all the effort involved to live up to the supposed grandeur of the day — reservations at impossible-to-get-into restaurants, dropping big bucks I don’t have on a rose petal-strewn hotel room, racking my brain for some never-before-thought-of romantic gesture. Everywhere I look there are ads for chocolate and jewelry and articles about how V-Day must include “the most mind-blowing sex of your life.” Just thinking about the performance of it all makes me want to take a nap.
The boyfriend and I are spontaneous gifters who believe in expressing our love for each other whenever the mood strikes us — never under pressure or duress. Last month, I came home with a cookbook he wanted, just because, and the week before that, I came over to his place after yoga and he was waiting with a glass of wine and a Gladys Knight record. That’s romance to me.
As a couple, we value real talk. We value not pretending to be into something for the sake of the other. We value unconditional acceptance. Which means that if Valentine’s Day rolls around and I had a long day and I just want to lay on the couch, watch “Investigation Discovery,” drink hot tea and complain, he’ll be more than happy to oblige.
“Good. I’ll go reorganize my record collection while you watch murder porn,” he’ll say.
I can’t think of a more romantic way to spend the evening than doing exactly what we both feel like doing, accepting and supporting each other completely — questionable TV taste and all.
Because truly, that was the best part of being single on Valentine’s Day. There was no pressure to do anything but willfully ignore the day. I usually chose to either stay in and pretend that it was just a regular, old Friday night complete with a gourmet salad and a Hulu binge-watching session or maybe grab a drink with another single friend. It was easy. It was real. Including the pang of sadness I often felt about not having a partner to join me in the spectacle of the day, and in life. But that would usually pass after my second hour of TV.
The Day Of Love is less than two weeks away. My boyfriend is out of town for work. It’s supposed to snow here all week. Yesterday, I went shopping with my best friend and stumbled upon a cute V-Day card with unicorns on it, along with some specialty salts that he’ll love to cook with (hope he didn’t just read this, but if he did, sorry I spoiled the surprise!). As of this moment, our first Valentine’s Day together is looking like it’s going to be pretty anticlimactic. And that’s just fine with me.
[Photo from Shutterstock]