I have a confession. I am 24 years old, and I’ve never had a Valentine. Now, I could say it’s because I’ve turned down each of the hundreds of men fighting over me at my doorstep because of my stunning beauty and womanly wiles. But for the simple reason that I don’t believe in Valentine’s, but that would be a blatant lie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ugly, at least I hope not. I have had my fair share of catcalls from construction workers when I wear my figure hugging (read ‘uncomfortably tight’) dress, and I have had my fair share of love letters from preschoolers and high schoolers alike. You know, the ones written in red, with a touch of perfume and totally irrelevant song dedications under the title ‘Dedix’.
I’ve had quite a modest number of guys tell me I’m the most beautiful girl in the world, though now that I think about it, the fact that they said that to like fifty other girls sort of makes it a lie. I have dated a couple of toads, kissed a couple of frogs, but for some strange reason I’m always alone on Valentine’s Day. Something always comes up so that my frogs can’t be with me. A work commitment, a family emergency, a long unexplained silence, a dangerous, highly infectious disease that starts on the 10th and magically heals on the 18th. So calculated don’t you think? So after about 5 such incidences, I came to the conclusion that I have a thing for men who don’t have a thing for Valentine’s. Some women are subconsciously attracted to abusers, or womanisers, or badboys. I’m attracted to anti-Valentinists. Yes, I know that’s not a word and it sounds kinda funny, but just get with the programme and understand it in context, will you? These men run away from you on Valentine’s day like they would run away from a demon, and I want to scream at them and say ‘Chill out dude, it’s just a day where you spend a little time and money on me, make my hair, buy me a dress with matching shoes and earrings, flowers, chocolate, milkshake (that would be wine but I don’t drink), lunch, possibly dinner, at a somewhat expensive restaurant, and then pay my cab fare back home. That’s not too much to ask for now is it?
Okay, all you independent ladies/feminists can relax. I don’t actually ask for all that. In fact, I don’t ask for anything. I’m a lady. Ladies don’t ask, they hint, and I hint like crazy. When going through a magazine I make sure I loudly ‘ooh’ and ‘ahhh’ at every dress I see. When out on the street I pull him into every jewellery shop, try on one specific piece and make sure he sees it properly, just in case he decides to come back for it later. When a chocolate or restaurant advert comes on, I make sure he stops everything he’s doing and gives it his full attention. All the above are accompanied by the classic hint. ‘That would make a really nice gift, like for Christmas, or Valentine’s, or a birthday… or whatever’. You make sure Valentine’s comes between Christmas and birthday so it sounds casual and random. I’m a master at this hinting thing, or maybe not, since it’s never actually worked. I’m still always alone on Valentine’s Day, go figure.
So anyway, of all the toads I’ve dated and all the frogs I’ve kissed, I’ve only been in love once. (He too was anti-Valentine.) And to make a potentially long story short, let’s just say when it ended, I was hurt, really hurt. Devastated in fact. There wasn’t a concrete reason for the breakup. Something like ‘he cheated’ or ‘I was a clingy, overbearing psycho and he couldn’t stand me’. We both did a lot of little things that amounted to enough reason for a breakup, and it totally broke me. But about 3 months ago, after taking a bit of a sabbatical from dating, I met someone. With the onset of the Valentine’s season (Yes, apparently it’s a season now, talk about commercialisation, right?) I was expecting the usual silence or lame excuse on the 10th, and I didn’t even hint at anything, at all. I guess I was just tired of the manipulation that we women call hinting.
Yes ladies, I said it, using emotional blackmail and subtle hints to get what you want is manipulation. Sue me. So I just let it go and planned to spend Valentine’s with my novel and cup of tea. But then the most amazing thing happened. On the 11th, my latest frog called me and asked me to meet him. While having lunch, after the small talk and a small bar of chocolate, (That chocolate was so small I didn’t know whether he was being cute or cheap.) he finally got to the point of the date. To paraphrase, he basically said he was so happy that I’m not one of those crazy girls who hint at Valentine’s gift ideas like it’s a full time job, that he really appreciates the fact that I don’t pressure him to do anything, (All this while I’m smiling sweetly and thinking, ‘Oh honey, wish you knew,) that he wants me to know that he may be tied up over Valentine’s, work thing (I hear a collective groan, relax y’all, the best part is coming up.) but he was going to make it up to me over the weekend. A romantic getaway out of town. (And here I was thinking those things only happen in the movies!) And he was only doing it because he wanted to do it, not because I made him feel like he had to, or else.
So there you have it ladies. Very important lesson. Took me about five dating years to get it. Do not pressure a man to do anything he doesn’t want to do, whether it’s through a subtle, well-timed hint, or an upfront ‘Either do this for me or you can forget about the smiley, talkative girl you knew because I’ll be sulking till kingdom come, and you can forget about your home-cooked meals and conjugal rights’ and whatever else you use as a bargaining chip. Nothing good comes out of it, either you’ll fail and become the totally crazy girl he once dated, or he will give in to the pressure, do whatever you want, then resent you for wearing the pants and telling him what do. If he’s a smart guy, and not kinda damn like my sister Justin Beiber, he probably already knows you like dresses, and hoop earrings, and you’re crazy about chocolate. If he wants to get them for you, he will, no pressure, and if he doesn’t, you should be okay with that too. If you’re not okay with it then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate why you’re in the relationship, and whether it has more to do with gifts than feelings.
One day you will find a guy who wants to do those little things for you because he cares enough about you to want to make you feel special, and wanted. If you have to tell him to do it, it’s not real. It defeats the whole purpose of giving gifts. It has to be his idea, his initiative, his prerogative, not yours. That’s the only way you’ll differentiate between a frog and a prince. At least that’s how I found out my frog is a prince.
This pensive post is by a lady who blogs over at blissfullbliss.wordpress.com, I Choose to Dance. She prefers to go by the pseudonym above. She is currently a student at Moi University.