Well, here we go again. Another Valentine's Day in Singleton. Meh. Whatever. Doesn't bother me.
I'm indulging myself in a little dating musing. I'm in an okay place with my Mayor of Singleton status so it seems harmless to reflect on how awful those last few years of dating were for me. I have so much other stuff to deal with in my life that my singleness isn't something I think about very often. And even if everything else in my life was on an even keel, lamenting about being single doesn't solve anything. It sucks, but that's life, deal with it. That's what I tell myself, anyway.
But still, every now and then a little self-pity on a dark night isn't the worst thing a person can do. Sometimes it even leads to new insight. I am
kind of surprised how long it's been since I had a date, and how much longer it's been since I went on more than three dates with the same guy. The time hasn't flown by - there are days minutes feel like treacherous death marches - but it has gone
by and I have endured it and generally I'm okay with it. This is why I'm the Mayor of Singleton. Next stop, Spinsterville with a detour through Crazy Cat Lady Town.
I was recently asked why I don't date. I was a little stymied by the question. I didn't want to explain why, to this casual acquaintance, it's been years since I've even attempted to find
a date. Further, I thought it was obvious why I don't date. I wanted to say, "Look at me. Men are not attracted to women who look like me." But instead I just said, "Oh, you know, unemployment has really taken a toll on me, I'm not in a good emotional place for dating."
I'm pretty sure people don't want to hear the truth, that I quit dating because the rampant judgement on appearance was killing me. No one wants to know that every man I met had a list of attributes they wanted in a date and the first 15 were all appearance based. And that the older I got, the more critical and vocal the men got about their reasons for rejecting me. That I was rejected for many reasons. My eyes weren't the right color, my eyes are too big, I'm too tall, my boobs are too big (yes, really, there are men who don't like big boobs), my fingers were deemed "freakishly long," my nose is "bad," my skin too fair, my hips too curvy, my hair was too short, my hair was too long, my hair was the "wrong" color, my hair wasn't straight enough, (I have been asked to change my hair color and/or style by three different boyfriends and by more first dates than I can recall), even the fact that I have ear lobes disgusted two would-be suitors. And the unanimous catchall: "I'm not attracted to you." Yes, these men are shallow, nitpicking men with questionable priorities.
Or maybe not. Their priority is sex, they know what turns them on, and what turns them off. Why bother wasting any
time on a woman who doesn't arouse them? Who cares if she's intelligent, kind, insightful, supportive, loyal, compassionate, creative and has a fantastic sense of humor? If she doesn't get the penis' attention what's the point of spending any time with her? Maybe as a friend, but certainly not as a date or potential romantic partner or spouse. Sheesh, can you imagine spending your life with a woman who has ear lobes?! Shudder. That's just gross.
Do people really
want to know all that when they ask why you don't date? Maybe they do. Maybe they want
the unvarnished truth about how callous and shallow people can be and how dismissive and cruel people are when it comes to dating. But I kinda doubt people want to know that. I think most people desperately want to believe there's someone for everyone and somehow, someway, love will find a way and everyone gets a happily ever after and the only people who die lonely and unloved are people who deserve it because they're horrible human beings. I'm pretty sure most people want to believe that and they cling to that ideal.
I don't. I have lived the harsh reality of the ugly underbelly of dating. I tried, I got "out there," I didn't let myself get daunted. Determined to find someone, anyone
, really, I soldiered on through the mire of dating until finally, after a blind date that ended with a man with Dwarfism humping my knee at a bus stop and then told our mutual friends that I wasn't his cup of tea, that he preferred blondes with blue eyes, instead of saying, "The guy is an arrogant, misogynistic cad who flirts with young bartendresses and humps women's knees at bus stops, and oh yeah, he's a dwarf
, and not really in any position to judge anyone on appearance," I said, "No more. This is damaging my self-esteem in ways I can never repair. I'm done."
One battle against anorexia was more than enough in one lifetime for
me. When I saw myself slipping into some dangerous and self-destructive
behaviors, including anorexia, again, and the other tolls trying to date was
taking on my self-esteem and confidence, I got out, I quit trying. The
critical judgement and review on my appearance with every
attempted to date was turning me into a psychological, emotional wreck. After each rejection I
consoled myself with, "Who cares what he thinks?" "He's a jerk anyway,
you don't want to date him." "As if he's a fine physical
specimen...pfft!" "If all he cares about is looks, he's not worth your
time." "Don't let him get to you, keep trying, maybe the next guy will
be the guy who has your features on his list." I even joined a dating
site for handicapped people in hopes of meeting a blind man. After one
particularly harsh rejection from a man I dated a few weeks who said he
liked me enough to continue dating me if I was willing to only have sex
from behind because he didn't find me attractive, I got home and looked
in the mirror saw the Elephant Man. Of course I imagined it, I blinked
it away, but that's when I knew it was time to stop dating. That's when I
knew men, and their very specific physical desires, were killing me.
Yes, I wanted a
relationship. No, I didn't want to be alone or lonely. But the man who
finds me attractive enough to look at me during sex, the man who accepts
me - my pale skin that burns even on cloudy days, my dark auburn errant curls
that can be a little unruly, my large green eyes, my "bad" nose, my
5'11" frame that solidly supports natural DD boobs and curvy hips, my
freakishly long fingers (and toes), and yes, even my ear lobes - the man
willing overlook or even embrace all that, remained elusive. And I
wasn't getting any younger.
And that's another issue that
made me realize it was time to opt out of the dating pool: I reached
the age where men my age who aren't married are looking for much
younger women. They're not quite old enough to be the young girls'
father, but old enough to seem "mature" to the young girls, especially
the young girls who yearn for expensive gifts that older, professionally
stable men can provide.
Funny how women are willing to
overlook receding hairlines (or worse: guylights), oversize noses,
stupid facial hair "statements," brutish manpaws (or oddly dainty
mantalons), back hair, all manner of fashion choices gone horribly
wrong, manboobs, and sagging, wrinkled, dangling gonads that can't fuel an
erection without the aid of a prescription drug, but men won't date a woman if her eye color isn't his preference.
I blame the 3:1 ratio
of women to men. Us women know there aren't enough of them for all of us, so
we know that even though we're expected to be perfect specimens of
female beauty we cannot expect men to be camera ready GQ
Studies and copious books on this topic say that while men are visual thinkers (translation: penis thinkers), women are more feeling, more
emotional in their choices than men. So if we like a man's personality
traits we "don't even notice" his physical imperfections and, in fact,
find his imperfections attractive. That may be true for some women (like
me, for instance), but that's not the full report. The fact that women
outnumber men* was made obvious to us from the time we started school,
and we know if we want to date and mate we'll have to a) claw our way
over the competition (other women), and b) make a few compromises in our
Yeah, I know how that sounds. I know I
sound bitter, resentful and jaded. But honestly, I am none of those
things. Well, okay, maybe I'm a little jaded. Okay a lot jaded. But I
to become any of those things. I like men. I don't want to dismiss the entire gender based on the jerks I've met and tried to date.
And I didn't want to lose any
more self-esteem because of some criticism some guy I barely knew
dismissively hurled at me. The men, and their opinions of my looks or
anything else, were inconsequential to me. So why would I let them chip
away at my confidence and self-esteem? Why would I let them push me back
down a slippery slope I already overcame years ago?
If it had been just
an occasional guy with the occasional "I'm just not attracted to you"
every now and then, I would have kept at it, and probably still would be
"at it." But the last five years I was "out there," it was almost every
guy with very specific criticisms (and occasional insults). So. I quit
dating. I realized I had to accept my Singleton spinster fate. I
haven't looked back.
Yes. I get lonely. Very lonely. Yes, I'm pretty
sure that given a legit opportunity I'd do anything (legal) to spend a
few nights with male arms holding me just one more time before I die.
And yes, more than that, especially with what I've had to deal with in
the rest of my life in the past few years, the emotional support of a
partner would make an incredible difference in my life and mental
health. And I like to think that I could make a positive difference in
the life of a man willing to overlook my flaws and accept me.
There isn't someone for everyone. It's statistically impossible. Some
of us are going to be alone. Period. I accept that I am one of them.
the reasons don't matter. And, from experience, I know that trying to
figure out the reasons is the fastest way to lose confidence in yourself
and to escalate all the fallout that low self-esteem brings to the
And let's face it: No one likes a Debbie
Downer. Here's what I finally learned: Smile like you mean it and
eventually you will. Yep. Fake it 'til you make it.
you realize and accept that you're going to be single, forever, there's
a period of depression, followed by anger, followed by anxiety and then
more depression. You might even be tempted to get back "out there" and
try again. And who knows, maybe that'll be the time you find the right
one. Rock on. But. For the rest of us, at some point you have to face
reality: You're single, every relationship you've had has ended in
tears, and if you can
get someone to go on a first date with you,
they leave without even lying about calling you, and make it very clear
that they are not attracted to you. It's time to stop the emotional
abuse you're giving yourself over dating.
And you're making yourself a
wreck. Your friends and family are worried about you, you're not
yourself. You're an insecure, frightened, depressed, angry shell of the
person you used to be before the constant cycle of dating and rejection
took a toll on you.
Broken dreams don't
but eventually the edges get worn down and aren't as jagged and sharp.
And I also know this: No matter how much it hurts to think of a future
very different, very much more alone than you imagined for yourself,
facing that future doesn't hurt as much as the constant rejection and
criticism from potential suitors. And it certainly doesn't hurt as much
as being in a relationship with someone who doesn't accept you as you
are. Regardless of what the clinical studies du jour say about married
people/couples living longer and being happier, if the alternative is living with someone who doesn't accept you as you are, you really are
better off alone.
not to say that once you accept your singleness that everyday is cotton
candy clouds and soft pink unicorns. (Unless you've opted to medicate
your way through Singleton.) Certain times of the year bombard you with
reminders that you are very much alone. Valentine's Day is one of the
worst. There is
a growing anti-Valentine's Day movement, but I
find that to be bitter and cynical. You don't have to hate it, you just
have to have a coping strategy.
I'm a fortunate
Singletonian because I've never been a fan of Valentine's Day. The
commercial pressure factors are a huge part of my disregard for the
"holiday." But the bigger problems I have with it are the competition
and the whole, "If you need a date on a calendar to inspire you to do
something romantic or special for your special someone, then you might
want to reevaluate how special that someone is and if you're really
putting forth the emotional depth and effort relationships require"
aspect. So. Valentine's Day isn't a huge hurdle for me, especially since
I was laid off.
I used to hate Valentine's Day in
the office. Huge bouquets of roses, enormous teddy bears, stupid
balloons, messengers dressed up like Cupid delivering chocolates and
other gifts...the office smelled like a hothouse and the passive
aggression between coworkers was unbearable. "That's a cute bouquet.
Small and sweet. That's nice." The competition for "Most Gross Display
of Commercialization, Affection Category" in the office is sickening. We
spend the year going to great lengths to keep the office desexualized,
and then blam! February 14 it's all about romance and sex. Maybe it's
just me, maybe I'm more bitter than I realize. But. I really do not want
to know that my boss also goes by the name Fuzzylumps or Pookeylips, or
that a pair of edible undies was delivered to the woman who handles
Coping strategy. Devise a plan and stick to it.
years ago I accidentally stumbled upon a little known fact that has
changed my life for the better. This is especially helpful for the
ladies of Singleton, but guys you can modify it to fit your needs.
Gynecologists, even very busy ones, usually have plenty of open
appointments on February 14. Apparently there aren't many women who want
to saddle up in the stirrups and get it on with a speculum on
Valentine's Day. So, for the past eleven years I've had my yearly
gynecologist appointment on Valentine's Day. No one else loves my body,
but I do, and I try to do everything I can to take care of me. Which
means: Annual checkups.
I'm especially pro-pap since Frankie's ovarian
cancer. I've never slacked on my appointments, but Frankie is proof
positive that it's crucial to get an annual pelvic exam. I'm on a mission to remind women to take care of their uteruses (uteri?). Do it. Woman up and get yourself in the stirrups every year. And what better day
to take care of your lady parts than Valentine's Day?
I'm pretty sure
my gynecologist is a lesbian, so the Valentine's Day element in my appointments is
a little weird,
but, hey, my vagina is getting some action on Valentine's Day. And I'm
doing something healthy for my uterus, so, you know, win-win. There's
something about enduring a pelvic exam that makes me feel very
virtuous and self-righteous. I always feel like we should get a sticker, like an "I
Voted!" sticker, after an annual checkup. "I Papped!" or "I got in the
stirrups and scootched down!" Okay, maybe the world doesn't need to know
what just went on in my vagina, but, I always feel "good" about having
done it. I was a big girl, I made the appointment, I went, I put on the
scratchy paper gown, I got in the stirrups, I scootched down to the
point where my butt cheeks were dangling over the edge of the table and I
was afraid of falling of the table, I stared at the ceiling and made
pleasant small talk with my doctor while she probed me deeper and harder
than any man ever has, all willingly and because it's the healthy thing
to do. It's what grown up women do. We handle it. We deal with it. We
take care of ourselves. Rock on, sister! And that's a good feeling to
have, so, why not have it on Valentine's Day? Seems absolutely perfect
to me. (I've also heard there aren't many women want their boobs
smooshed and radiated on Valentine's Day, either, so February 14 is a
good day for a mammogram.)
Okay, so maybe a trip to
the gynecologist isn't your idea of a Valentine's Day coping strategy.
But you get my point. Go to the dentist. Take an extra difficult
spinning class at the gym. Eat organic produce all day. Give money to a water or environmental charity. Go play with animals at a shelter. Do something for
yourself that's healthy and makes you feel good and proud of yourself.
Love yourself. Plan it in advance, make a big deal of it.
recommend "being your own Valentine," as in taking yourself to dinner
or buying yourself a present or sending yourself flowers. I know people,
women especially, who do this and ultimately they end up more depressed
and feeling more
lonely. And. They tend to overindulge in
sweets, booze, food or "presents" they can't really afford. Which is why
I advocate something like a gynecologist appointment. It's something
you need to do anyway, it's not something a romantic partner would do
for or with you (at least not usually), so there's no compensation
factor. You're not giving yourself a consolation prize for coming in
last in the game of love, which is how taking yourself to dinner or
having a candlelit romantic bubble bath by yourself or buying yourself
diamond earrings can feel. The last thing you want on Valentine's Day (or any
day for that matter) is to end up singing, or worse, feeling like
Way back when I had boyfriends and reasonably healthy relationships, the guys weren't that different from the men I attempted to date most recently. The long-ago boyfriends were willing to compromise their lists because they thought I had enough other traits to compensate for my shortcomings. Yay them. But that's not to say they entirely forgot about their list of desires.
Valentine's gifts I have received:
- A membership at a tanning salon (from the boyfriend who liked Baywatch and very tanned women)
- Perfume that made me asthmatic - and also happened to be the scent his mother and sister wore
- A 2-for-1 coupon for contact lenses (even though I only wear reading glasses) (from the boyfriend who preferred blue eyed women)
- A consultation with a plastic surgeon (from the boyfriend who complained about my nose...nonstop)
- A "role playing game" that included a blonde wig for me and...nothing for him. Or, well, "his" role was ogler of the blonde chick (from the boyfriend who liked blondes and asked me, weekly, to "try" going blonde, "just for fun.")
And those were the good
guys, the men who (at least said they) loved me and tried to make relationships work with me. The problem was, of course, they never fully accepted me, at least not physically, and they went on to date and marry women who were more to their physical liking.
(And yet people wonder why women develop issues like anorexia, body dysmorphia, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, social anxiety including agoraphobia, stress-related heart disease and run of the mill insecurity and lack of self esteem and confidence issues at staggeringly higher rates than men.)
Guys, please, I'm begging you, if you're going to give your special woman something for Valentine's Day, make sure it's a gift for her
, and not really for you
. (This includes most lingerie.) If your gal has never gone to tanning salon nor expressed any desire to do so, Valentine's Day is not the day to suggest that you
find her lily white skin a little too
pale. Maybe you have a weakness for blue eyes and your gal has green eyes. Valentine's Day is not the day to spring the idea of colored contact lenses on her. Nor is it the day to suggest to her that, you know what, her nose could
use some refinement or her butt does
look big in those jeans or you don't like her ear lobes so here ya go baby, go talk to a plastic surgeon. If she's never so much as tried a few lighter colored highlights, she's probably not interested in becoming a blonde, and if she dons the wig for you
, and you ogle her more than you usually do, she will ultimately feel like you want her to be a blonde and will question how much you really enjoyed every sexual encounter you had with her before the blonde wig came into the picture.
So. Tread carefully and think about her
. What does she
like? If you're the attentive partner you think you are, you've noticed her lingering over a particular catalog or website. Buy her something from one of those places. Perfume is nice, but make sure it's something she likes, and never, ever, under any circumstances, give her the same perfume your mother or sister wears. Just don't. If you have to ask why there's really nothing more I can do to help you.
Okay. Now I'm going to take a moment to do a public service to my sisters who do
have men in their lives. See? I don't hate love, I don't begrudge other people who have love in their lives!
If you are a guy who has no intention of buying jewelery, skip ahead.
Jewelry is a typical Valentine's gift. Many women like, and even expect jewelery on Valentine's Day. I'm sorry about that, guys, I don't agree with that either, and please know that some of us women don't expect
anything, nor do we buy into the Valentine's Day marketing pressure put on men to buy us something "nice" for Valentine's Day. But if your girl likes, or expects jewelry you probably want to make some sort of jewelry gesture. Word to the wise, though, unless she enjoys reruns of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman
or '70s made for television mini-series, avoid anything you see advertised on television between Christmas and Valentine's Day. Actually, avoid any jewelry you see advertised on television period. If you do decide to go the jewelry route here are a few cautionary words of wisdom.
1) Type. If you've been dating more than a year, and it's Valentine's Day and you have zero intention of asking her to marry you within the next two weeks, do not, I repeat do not give her any
type of jewelry. Why? Because if you've been dating more than a year and you show up on Valentine's Day with a box from a jewelry store, in her mind she's already booking the reception site and band. When she opens the box and finds a solitary teddy bear charm for a Pandora bracelet (that she doesn't own), there is no way to recover the evening. She may be polite and say she loves it and loves you, but don't expect the extra special stuff in the bedroom later. This whole thing could have been avoided if you hadn't given her any jewelry. Why? Because giving her jewelery means you went to a jewelry store, before Valentine's Day, where there were undoubtedly dozens of guys looking at engagement rings, and loads of in-store ads featuring engagement rings, but what did you buy her? A teddy bear charm for a Pandora bracelet (that she doesn't own). The mere fact that you went to a jewelry store is a potential emotional volcano for her, she's just waiting to blow and spew the red hot lava of engagement excitement, and then she opens the box and it's...a teddy bear charm for a Pandora bracelet (that she doesn't own). See what I mean? If you gave her a year of NetFlix she wouldn't be in the bathroom crying and thinking she's wasted more than a year of her life dating you. She wouldn't envision you walking into the jewelry store, choosing just the right gift for her...which turned out to be a teddy bear charm. If you still don't get it, there's nothing more I can do to help you.
If you're already engaged or married, my coupled up friends seem to like/expect diamond earrings, diamond bracelets, or pretty much anything from Cartier or Tiffany & Co. There seems to be some contract between married men and women regarding Valentine's Day and jewelery. Since I'm not married I don't know anything about this other than my married friends typically sprout some lavish new piece of jewelry after February 14.
If you've been dating less than six months and you show up with jewelry, any type of jewelry, she'll be surprised and happy. Unless of course you've been dating less than six months, you haven't met each others' family, you're not even sure what type of wine she likes, and you show up with an engagement ring. She'll be surprised, but maybe not in a good way. Brace yourself for some awkward pauses and throat clearing over dessert.
If you want to buy (or have been instructed to buy) jewelry, but you're not sure what to get, earrings are usually a safe bet. Err on the side of tasteful, birthstones are a nice alternative to diamonds, just make sure you know if she likes yellow or white metals. If you're married, look at her wedding ring. What color is it? Take a snapshot of that in your mind and remember it when you're at the jewelry store.
2) Style. If the woman in your life doesn't wear ruffles, lace and/or ethereal, filmy slip dresses, the odds are high that she probably doesn't like, or want, dainty pieces of jewelry that the salesperson describes as "romantic" or "delicate" or "sweet." Stick with clean lined basics or classics.
On the other hand, if she watches a lot of Hallmark Channel movies and her clothing style is often described as "darling" and she collects Victorian dolls, anything delicate with a lot of detail will probably make her very happy. If your great aunt Polly would like it, you've found the right gift.
Beware of anything shaped like a heart. Hearts are a minefield of opinions among women. Presuming your girl is over the age of 12, she has a personal line in the sand regarding hearts. Some of us hate anything shaped like a heart. Anything. Other women, often women who had (or want) a Disney princess or Hello Kitty themed wedding, love heart shaped everything. So, know your woman and which category she falls into before entering the heart shaped jewelry zone. If in doubt, stay away from the hearts. And it will be difficult. Jewelry stores and the salespeople who work at them are big on pushing heart shaped everything for Valentine's Day. Be strong, do not succumb to the visual overload of hearts in the store.
And. Just because she loves cats or dogs or horses doesn't mean she wants to adorn herself with cute representations of said animals. The same rules about hearts apply here, too. Know your girlfriend and her style. Animal themed pieces are tricky. For instance, even though I love cats, I generally do not like cat themed jewelry. It's a little too crazy spinster cat lady for me. Plus cat themed jewelry is often super cutesy. I am not a super cutesy kinda girl. However, I do have a few pieces of cat inspired jewelry that I really like. Confusing? Yes. So. Unless you have a high degree of confidence in your woman's style, do not presume that because she loves her Bichon Frise more than life itself that she will want to wear Bichon Frise themed earrings. I'm telling you this because animal themed pieces are another type of jewelry that stores and salespeople just love to pawn off on unsuspecting men who think it makes sense that their woman will love anything that represents her favorite animal.
3) Price. This is a touchy topic. If you haven't been behaving like the greatest boyfriend on the planet, this might not be the time to spend a year's salary on jewelry for your girlfriend. Why? Because if she has a functioning brain she's going to presume that you think this lavish gift erases all your boyfriend infractions. And buddy, lemme tell you, nothing is going to eradicate the memory she has of you groping and making out with a bridesmaid at her sister's wedding. Yes, you were drunk, yes, she was wearing the same dress as your girlfriend and you got confused, no "nothing" happened. But. You're on thin ice, mister, and an expensive piece of jewelry is tantamount to an admission of guilt for that indiscretion and many more that she now suspects may have occurred.
If you are
Mr. Wonderful and you want to buy her something extra special nice, and you are on solid ground with her taste and style preferences, go for it. Just don't turn into a jerk and lord it over her for the next 10 years. It's not her fault you spent a year's salary on a piece of jewelry, so don't carry it like a cross. Ditto bragging about it to her friends. Trust me, her friends saw it and know how much it cost. The piece brags for itself. Your chiming in and calling attention to the great gift you got her only serves to make you look like a self-serving, ego driven, affected jerk.
4) Diamonds and Rubies and Pearls, oh my. Conventional wisdom is that every woman loves diamonds, that you can't go wrong with diamonds. Conventional wisdom is wrong, and you can go very, very wrong with diamonds, to the point of looking like an insensitive lout. Socially conscious women do not like diamonds, or even if they do, they won't be caught dead wearing them in public. Women who are not ostentatious also don't care for diamonds. And, some women think they're overhyped, overpriced, overused talismans of success in romance and wealth. If you're with a woman who I just described, you probably already know to steer clear of diamonds. If you're not sure, casually mention you saw an interesting documentary on the De Beers family and wait for her response. If this comment turns into a two hour discussion about monopolies and human rights issues then you have your answer. If, on the other hand, she thinks you meant to say, "Da Bears" because she doesn't know who the De Beers family is, you have a very different answer.
Rubies, sapphires and emeralds are diamond alternatives, but these, too, are mined and have human rights issues attached to them. Ask where the stone was mined. The jeweler may lie, but at least you tried to do due diligence. If human rights issues are not an issue for your woman or you, make sure you know what color she likes. She may hate rubies. Just because it's Valentine's Day now
doesn't mean she'll want to wear a heart shaped ruby necklace the rest of the year. She may associate sapphires with her grandmother (which could be a good or bad thing). Think about her wardrobe. What colors does she frequently wear? It's a safe bet that she'd like a stone of that color.
Conventional wisdom also indicates that every woman likes pearls. Also false. Most vegans and many vegetarians will not wear pearls. And many women feel that no woman under the age of 60 should wear pearls. Other women feel that pearls should be inherited, not bought.
So. Go carefully into the long dark night of jewelry.
I'm big on personal gifts as opposed to traditional gifts. There's a time and a place for traditional gifts, but Valentine's Day is a very personal day. Ultimately you're hoping to score in bed or at least score some relationship points. Giving her something that says, "I pay attention to you, I care about you and I care about what you enjoy. I put a lot of thought into this because I love you and want you to have something you really want," will go a lot farther than, "I sent a dozen roses to your office, brought you expensive chocolates, I'm taking you to dinner at a trendy restaurant and will give you jewelry during dessert." The former implies you are a thoughtful, attentive guy who's in this relationship for the long haul, which will likely result in some pretty serious spontaneous action, perhaps in an unconventional place, maybe even that thing you like that she's uncomfortable with, while the latter implies that you did everything you're "supposed" to do, you held up your end of the Valentine's Day deal, and that you fully expect her to don some scratchy lace lingerie getup and give you a blow job when you get home. There's no wrong answer, it just depends on what you want from the relationship, and what kind of relationship you want.
You may have had a conversation that went something like this.
You, mustering your courage and hoping this is the right way to handle this, "Valentine's Day is coming up. What would you like to do? Shall I make dinner reservations or, I could make you dinner at home, or maybe we could go away for a few days. Any thoughts?"
Her, taking deep cleansing breaths so she doesn't lose her temper at you for not "just knowing" what she wants, says, "Surprise me," or, "You haven't made reservations yet? We'll never get in anywhere. Might as well just stay home and order pizza. You better send me flowers at work this year. Good ones, not some cheesy teddy bear holding a carnation."
or, heaving a sigh of relief that you brought up the topic so you can clear the air on Valentine's Day, she says, "I'm so glad you brought this up. I'm not really into Valentine's Day, it's so overhyped and I don't need a date on the calendar to prove how romantic we are. I'm happy just spending the evening home with you."
Both of these scenarios appear to indicate that you've gotten out of planning a Valentine's Day date.
Appearances can be deceiving.
She says it's too late to make plans or that she just wants to cuddle on the couch, which indicates she has zero expectations for a big date night. And she may honestly mean either of those things. But. Deep down she's wondering if (hoping) you brought up the topic as a decoy to throw her off the scent of some big romantic evening you're brewing. Or, she may take you and the conversation at face value and truly not expect anything. But. In either case, if you come up with some sort of romantic gift or plan a nice evening, she'll like it. We all say we don't care about Valentine's Day, and most of us mean it, but, that's not to say we don't appreciate a romantic gesture if the intention is sincere and heartfelt.
And don't forget your single friends and family members. Send them a text or an email, or call them. Don't bring up Valentine's Day unless they mention it first. Just say hi like it's any other day and you're just calling to talk. Maybe mention something about them that you like, say something like, "I was thinking about the time we had that flat tire in the middle of a blizzard. You handled that like a pro. Remember the weird gas station we finally found? Man, what a disaster that day was but I have never laughed so hard in my life." It'll remind them that they have friends and family who care about them and appreciate them, and they'll feel less alone on a day when the entire world except them seems to be coupled up.
*That tide is turning, more boys are being born, now, so in a few generations women will have more choices and less competition in dating. I'm happy for the little girls in kindergarten right now. They aren't facing a future with gender statistics stacked against them in their odds of finding a mate.