When things haven’t worked out on the romantic front, a dear friend of mine is wont to say, “Cupid is the devil.” And I fear she’s right. The pursuit of what so many of us crave can make you miserable, and gaining then losing it will really do you in.
The sun is shining and the birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming — until that perfect match doesn’t pan out, leaving spirits broken. Who among us hasn’t felt hellish pain when thrust into a lovelorn state? It’s enough to inspire bitter, spiteful misanthropy. That’s especially true around Valentine’s Day with its across-the-board expectations of happy couple-dom, almost assuring that those who aren’t paired up and making googly-eyes at one another will feel like outcasts or failures.
There’s no simple cure for victims of love or for those who suffer from lack of romance. But beneath the hardened shell of the coldly pessimistic cynic oft beats the heart of the hopeless romantic. The same person who imagines the winged cherub with the bow and arrow as one of Satan’s most insidious guises hasn’t stopped believing in the elevating, nurturing power of love. On the other hand, my aforementioned friend and I both question the knee-jerk traditions and pressures of Valentine’s Day.
DON’T CAPITULATE TO THE COMPLEX
Sure, it’s a built-in opportunity to be romantic — which might not come easy for the reserved and taciturn. Still, if you’re lucky enough to be in a loving relationship, we don’t think you should be compelled to spend a week’s paycheck or more to buy affection and loyalty from your significant other — and certainly not because the Candy-Floral-Greeting Card Complex says you have to do so every February 14. So here are some suggested, relatively inexpensive ways we conjured to show how much he or she means to you any day of the year.
Write a love letter in longhand, expressing your feelings. And if you think you don’t have the writing chops to do justice to your sentiment, get a simple white card and list as many favorite memories of your loved one as you can or note what excites or delights or impresses you about this special person. Or you could memorize a short poem that says something pithy and emotional about your (presumably) better half and what the two of you share or mean to one another. Incidentally, any of these ideas is enhanced by the presentation of a single red rose.
Speaking of roses, many florists have a bin where they discard rose petals. That’s right: a whole slew of rose petals that can be yours for the taking. Of course, protocol demands that you ask the proprietor if you can collect a bag full of the fragrant cast-offs. Then, take them home, and before your partner returns, spread them in a path that leads to your bedroom and toss a few across your bed. Unless hay fever is an issue or you live with a neat-freak, the reaction should be shiny-eyed adoration. Which brings up another idea . . .
If you’re a slob, clean up your dwelling, unbidden. Dust and straighten, take out the trash, do the dishes and the laundry, make the bed, etc. If you’re on the OCD side, loosen up a bit. You could forget about the pad and go for a hike or a walk in the park — after first hiding a small token in a tree truck or tied to a branch and then steering the stroll to the prize. As modestly-priced gifts go, you might try a thrift store where you can find all manner of idiosyncratic but personally resonant items that could delight your darling — a board game from childhood, a T-shirt or lunchbox with a favorite cartoon character, pop star, or TV show represented, etc.
MORE THRIFTY TREATS
You don’t have to purchase an hour-long massage when you can administer one. There’s no need to pay for the services of a mariachi band to provide a serenade under a window. Instead, pull a John Cusack move from “Say Anything,” and show up with a boom box playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” or an equally moving track or whatever number you and your honey think of as “our song.”
Sweets for the sweetheart are always in order, diabetics aside. And the gift of chocolates in a heart-shaped box is as traditional as it gets. But the smart chocoholic who wants to deliver the goods waits until just after Valentine’s Day, when unsold hearts chock full of high-end confections can be purchased for as much as 75% off — even at upscale department stores. Remember that the dark chocolate — loaded with anti-oxidants — is as good for you as it is delicious. Although it wouldn’t be delivered on the day of days, think of the surprise.
Bucking the norm and doing any of the above without the burden of the holiday hanging over you could be just what you need to refresh a relationship. And if such displays are not things you would usually do, it’s worth recalibrating your attitude and trying something caring and creative. You will probably be thanked in a most gratifying and intimate way. And it just might change your longtime luck in the realm of love.