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Two Sense: Ignore Valentine's Day or Embrace It?

Illustration by Caitlin Kuhwald

Every year, I get itchy just thinking about Valentine’s Day. I’ve given my girlfriend flowers, earrings, nice dinners, and cards, but it all seems so canned. I think she feels it too. My gifts seem to underwhelm her. Help me do something different this year. Or should I just ignore it like I want to?

He Said: There are two kinds of women: those who expect us to read their minds concerning gifts and those who we’ve disappointed often enough to know better. What any gift must convey is that you cared enough to make a significant effort. That’s why expensive gifts delight most women— because your hard-earned money signifies effort. You can also get the same feeling across with a detailed, well-thought-out plan. If you combine money and a detailed date, you’re sure to succeed.
Plan an entire weekend, and take her away. Have flowers delivered to her work, pick her up, and drive her out of town to a nice hotel. Bring wine and candles for the room, give her a card and small gift, take her to dinner, and most importantly, plan an activity for the next day. This shouldn’t be something you two watch, like a concert, but something you physically do together, like kayaking, volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, or learning to salsa. When a couple puts themselves in a new setting or a challenging situation, they generate endorphins that pull them closer. The obvious time and care involved in planning a weekend-long shared experience is enough to melt any gal’s heart.

She Said: I’m, um, speechless. I can’t fathom your girlfriend being underwhelmed by the plan laid out above. But I also can’t imagine any mortal man ever carrying such a plan out—unless, of course, the woman in question was not his girlfriend but some seemingly unattainable, aloof woman that he hadn’t yet bedded. Some other man’s very hot wife, perhaps, or Jessica Biel.
By all means, if you can pull off what He describes, do it. It will work, I guarantee it. But if you lack either the money or time to go to those lengths, then keep these simple Female Psychology 101 tips in mind. Women feel romanced by gifts that show your attentiveness and your deep feelings. If you’ve been paying attention to her all year, you know what kind of smells, foods, clothing, and experiences she likes—right? So you don’t just take her to dinner. You make her favorite food. You don’t just get her earrings. You get earrings from the local designer she admired at the Union Street Fair. Alternately, you skip the tangible gifts and go straight for the heart: No woman can resist a simple love letter. It doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. Simply imagine your life without her, and write down everything you’d miss. Then change the words “I’d miss” to “I love.” Trust me on this.