Love in the Mountains: The Valentine’s Day Dilemma | VailDaily.com

Love in the Mountains: The Valentine’s Day Dilemma

Jessica Heaney
Love in the Mountains

It's almost Valentine's Day, and it can be a tough day for both singles and couples. I recently received this question to my inbox that hits on how confusing this holiday can be:

"My girlfriend of four years tells me Valentine's isn't a big deal to her. And I personally think it's a Hallmark holiday. But when I don't do anything or give her anything, I can see the look of disappointment on her face. What's a caring guy to do?"

Mark, 32

Many couples can relate to this conflict. It can leave partners thinking they're on the same page, deciding not to celebrate Feb. 14 in any way. But then they come to find they've disappointed and let down the one they love most. Both partners are left in tough disconnected places with the rush to run out and grab a cheap box of chocolates to mend over the fight.

Love goes both ways

Let's start by talking about the bad rap Valentine's Day has as a "Hallmark holiday." It isn't only Valentine's Day, as most every holiday is branded for consumerism. In our culture, buying and receiving gifts, things and cards is a primary way we celebrate. Birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, Thanksgiving and even the Fourth of July can all be easily denounced as Hallmark holidays. Yet, most of us love to come together to celebrate nonetheless.

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Valentine's Day has its roots in St. Valentine, pagan holidays, and — fun fact — it's even related to when birds mate. It goes way back into history, starting in the 1400s when written sentiments of love and caring were shared on the 14th. The oldest Valentine is a poem from 1415. I'm pretty sure that was well before Hallmark was ever involved.

See, the basic truth is that every person desires to feel loved, acknowledged and cared for. And this is the look of disappointment Mark sees on his girlfriend's face. She likely isn't asking him to do grand gestures to "prove" his love to her. A part of her does, however, want to know that he notices, he cares and that he's willing to express his love. And let me venture out to suggest, Mark would like the same in return. This isn't a ladies-only holiday (despite what the commercials tell you).

Expert Tip

If you're reading this and realizing you have less than 24 hours before love day hits, then relax. I've got you covered. Because here is my one recommendation to help Mark and all the other struggling partners who just don't know how to succeed on Valentine's Day.

My tip: Use your words.

Allow Hallmark to help you and dig through the card aisle. Find a card that resonates with you. Not everyone has the gift of poets, so let someone help you first find your words. Perhaps look up a few famous love poems like Mr. Big does in the "Sex and the City" movie. Or go totally old school and pick up some school-age valentines with your favorite cartoon.

Here comes the tough part. You do need to add your own words.

Take time to uncover what is truthful and simple regarding what your partner means to you. Being specific adds that personal touch where they know you aren't saying general words that could be applied to anyone. Think about what sets this person apart from every other person in your life. Maybe it's the way they snort when they laugh, how their coffee is always the best, or how they can cuddle with your dog who never lets anyone else get close to them — whatever it is, express it and share it.

Cards are powerful and meaningful. They last longer than chocolates and balloons, and they sink in deeper than an overpriced dinner out. If you are fortunate to receive a card tomorrow, then be grateful that someone has taken the time to find the words that express how much you mean to them.

Happy Valentine's Day.

If you have a love and relationship question you'd like Jessica Heaney to answer, then send it to Jessica@jessicaheaney.com.