Monkey Love

Going the conventional route this Valentine’s Day?  Nothing says “monkey see, monkey do” more than chocolates, cards and flowers.  I’ll show you how to win real points with your sweetheart on Friday.

I remember the stress on Valentine’s Day my freshman year of high school. I had a boyfriend on the sly so advanced preparations in my house were not an option.  That morning, I sprinted to the florist before the sun was up to procure a single, white rose before collapsing out of breath on the last bus to school so I wouldn’t miss first period.

That all these factors aligned might be called romantic.  But I hardly knew the guy and I bought the rose because that’s what my upperclassmen advised me to do.    Eight hours later, when we could finally meet up, he traded me an immaculate red rose and lacy box of chocolates for my now chopped down and malting floret.

There I was, a failure as a girlfriend.

Even worse:  neither of our combined efforts that day felt genuine.

From that February 14th to this one, I have prioritized authenticity above else.  I question almost every detail around the day unchangingly:

Why is February 14th different from any other day of the year?  (It isn’t)
Why aren’t such grand displays made on any other, ordinary day of the year? (Because we’re lazy and doing it this once is our “get out of jail free” card)
Why do we subscribe to the belief that each year on February 14th we must empty our bank accounts to prove deep affection for our loved ones? (social pressure)
Why must money be involved with expressions of love? (ditto)

As my father likes to say about most holidays: they are commercial gimmicks meant to get people to spend more money.  I tend to agree with this, especially for Valentine’s Day.

Flowers in general are overpriced the entire month and you can’t escape advertisements everywhere enticing you to buy or do more than your better judgment would recommend.

Then why do we do it?

Because our inner circle – which represents society as a whole – becomes our critic and we are compelled to put on a show.

So every February, as convention would prescribe, we buy chocolates, rent horse carriages and exchange mass-produced cards while the whole world does the same.

But where are the sentiments behind these actions?  If your cards, flowers and chocolates are the same as everyone else’s, then how are your unique, authentic feelings being expressed? (They aren’t!)

Truth is, we spend too much time and money focused on following convention on Valentine’s Day that we forget that it’s really about relationship-building.

4 Valentine’s Day Alternatives They Won’t See Coming

Strengthen your bond with these nonconventional options:

1. Make a big effort on any other day.  When every place you go isn’t in your face about it, make a big effort.  Let him or her know that they deserve to be showered with appreciation all year long.

2. Make a small effort every day. I would rather get a single rose every other month of the year than a bouquet on Valentine’s Day because it’s more genuine.  Or what about daily love notes on post-its?  Way more romantic…and harder to commit to.  It takes real thought and effort to make those gestures when you aren’t constantly reminded to do so.

3. Don’t follow convention, chart your own course.  Challenge yourself to leave your wallet out of the equation.  If you’re artistic, create, write or compose something for your loved one.  Take him or her on a tour reminiscing how you first met and your early courtship.  For more options, check out alternatives offered in this article by Canadian Living.  Want to be completely selfless? Here are some charitable ways you can celebrate the holiday.

4. Protest Valentine’s Day by spending it with your friends.  If it were up to me, I would ignore February 14th all together.  I’d throw an impromptu party for my closest friends at my favorite Mexican restaurant that makes one-of-a-kind “sangritas.”  Show your friends, single and attached, that your sweetheart isn’t the only person who swells your heart.

Takeaway:

Flowers, cards and candy may not be the best way to go on Valentine’s Day.  Fight the norm this Friday!  Take a minute to really show your loved ones how much they mean to you.

What are your plans for February 14th?  Sound off below!

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