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Is Valentine's Day a Lose-Lose Holiday?

Feb 14 2014
The single and dating come together to try to redeem the commercialized extravaganza.

Valentine's Day is lame. The holiday designed to celebrate love somehow makes most of us feel dissatisfied with our relationships or defensive about our relationship status — whether you're single, married, or dating.

One of us is single. One of us is in a relationship. On Valentine's Day, we both face arbitrary choices about our plans, choosing from a menu of clichéd, commercialized options that say nothing about our relative happiness or the health of our relationships … or even our interest in Valentine's Day itself.

So, this year, we are asking ourselves: Is there a way to redeem Feb. 14?

Do We Have to Be One of 'Those Couples'?

Ruth Moon

You may think that the terror of Valentine's Day flees when you are in a relationship, but no. The pressure's on for the right amount, the right kind of celebration. If you do like chocolate and roses, you're one of those people who buys into impossibly cheesy, disconnected-from-reality fairytale romance. If you stay home with pizza and beer, you're one of those people, trying to be ironic and hip, without a box of candy or card in sight. For the record, I'm the latter.

My significant other feels the tension too. He says:

We really are in a bind. Yes, it's a schmaltzy holiday, originally associated with St. Valentine, as the legend goes, now thoroughly co-opted by capitalism. Yes, it's better to just have a nice talk about how awfully exploited we all are, by the hype, and how we should just go about our relational business.

But pragmatically, we can't just ignore the day entirely. Even the most jaded and snarky woman will want something special on the day of. Just "nothing too cheesy," or "nothing too romantic," she'll say.

That's basically a paradox that would have made British journalist G.K. Chesterton proud. But Chesterton, a joyfully married Christian man, also had a realistic view of his own kind: "Women are the only realists; their whole object in life is to pit their realism against the extravagant, excessive, and occasionally drunken idealism of men."

Our idealism is born out of a healthy desire to honor the relationship we're in, including where it's been and where it can go yet, by God's grace. It expresses itself in terribly awkward ways, like boxes of waxy chocolates, botched dinner reservations or overly bounteous bouquets of red roses. But I suspect that what they (the women) really want is an attempt, however lame, to honor them and show them affection.

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Is Valentine's Day a Lose-Lose Holiday?