Well, that’s it. Valentine’s Day is gone for another year and there will be many folk who have given a sigh of relief that the pressure to be ROMANTIC is off for another twelve months.
Everything red or heart-shaped will soon be on sale in the shops – two hearts for the price of one! – though I know from my own experience in retail, that they’ll still be a fair number of sales made today, mainly to naive young men looking exhausted and vaguely shell-shocked because they spent last night on the couch and the the whole of yesterday as the recipient of cutting stares and icy silences and didn’t realise until they popped out late in the day for a pint of milk and a Mars bar that it was Valentine’s Day, by which time all of the large retailers were closed and the only gift options at the corner shop were a box of mint Matchmakers and a packet of tampons – super-plus.
Hence the night on the couch.
These are the chaps who look grateful to spend a not-insubstantial amount of money on a dozen red roses – the ones who think said blooms will get them out of trouble. They’re wrong, of course, because any woman who won’t speak to her partner because he forgot Valentine’s Day is also the kind of woman who will never forget that he forgot – if you know what I mean.
Being romantic is hard work. Valentine’s is not like Christmas – then we all expect to watch the same films, see the same people, play the same games and eat the same food as we have every single year for decades and if we don’t then a tiny part of us is missing.
Where Christmas is about tradition, being romantic is about innovation. It’s about surprises and not the kind that will leave the surprisee with a morbid fear of spiders / mirrors / cupboards or custard and unable to sleep without a light on.
To be seen as a real Romantic by some idealistic young souls, you have to be able to come up with something akin to a weekend in Paris / Michelin star dinner for two / beds showered with scarlet rose petals/kittens/puppies for every Valentine’s, anniversary, birthday … Think of the pressure involved, the planning, the cost, the logistical nightmare of shipping a kennel’s worth of puppies across town … The cleaning bills.
In our grandparents’ day, if men were good earners, saved getting blind drunk for weekends and didn’t blow all the housekeeping on dog racing or floozies, that was enough – if not for a happy marriage, then at least a long one.
I’m sure this is why so many couples break up these days. It’s not a failure of the relationship, just the sheer terror of having to think of something wonderful and original three times a year for forty years. Easier to end it before you run out of ideas.
I don’t think many people are naturally romantic – we’ve all just watched too many romcoms, read too much Barbara Cartland, have been coached into having too-high expectations of long term relationships.
If you want to be really romantic, put your wallet away.
Do the washing up more often. Actually listen when your partner moans about their day / fallen arches / growing paunch or greying hair. Give them a sneaky cuddle while they’re standing at the kitchen counter making pack-ups for the kids. Just be thoughtful.
And if that’s not enough for your partner? If they still want to have the full bells and whistles, to be the centre of attention, to made to feel like a fairy princess or prince … Maybe you should look for another partner.
Thanks to all who took part in the Love Nudge Competition. I’ve read every entry so far and was overwhelmed by the quality – and by your stamina, as a good handful of you contributed every day!
More reading and thinking has to be done yet, but I hope to publish a roll of honour and winner by the end of the week.
Thanks for making the week so special.