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Valentine's Day is a celebration of the most complicated emotion in the world, love. Rightfully so, most men are completely intimidated by the female expectations surrounding this holiday, especially those who are not romantically inclined the other 364 days of the year. Although, romance should be mandatory all year round, we, women, understand that some of you are not wired that way. So listen up beaus, there's nothing in your genetic makeup saying that you can't improve with a little inside information.
First, as relationship expert, Jay Cataldo, correctly states, “flowers are mandatory. No matter how much you spend on her Harry Winston jewelry, she will still be disappointed if you neglect to give her, at the very least, a single red rose. A card is also mandatory. Spend at least ten minutes reading through cards to pick out one that’s either funny and/or romantic. Then spend another ten minutes writing her something from the heart. Today's the one day where you can express how you really feel about her without coming off like a sappy fool.” The other half of the Valentine's Day gift depends on where you and your beloved fall on the love spectrum. To my XY counterparts in need of direction from cupid's golden arrow, let my advice and your heart guide you on your quest for the perfect Valentine's Day gift.
The Lust Phase
If you have been dating your special lady for less than 4 months, more than likely you're "in lust". This stage is an important part of the love development, because it represents the chemistry, that unexplainable physical attraction, that draws you to your partner.
As a fresh couple, lacking deeper knowledge about the other's likes, dislikes, past and hopes for the future, the best Valentine's Day gift is one that will encourage a transition into a more fulfilling relationship. Perhaps planning a short day or evening trip out to a lake, park or beach for a picnic would give you a romantic atmosphere to get to know a little more about each other. For those of you in a colder climate, perhaps set up a romantic dinner cuddled out in front of the fireplace with some hot cocoa. If you take the time to make the food yourself, she'll feel like the most special girl in the world.
The Honeymoon Phase
Once the physical attraction is established, love birds tend to look at their relationship in an idealistic manner. As they say, "love is blind". Spending every moment smitten with each other, but recognizing that there is more than just a physical attraction between the two of you, the honeymoon phase tends to occur between 5 months and 2 years time.
Men, if you're in this phase, you're in luck! You can do no wrong. She is on cloud nine and loving every minute of being with you, so the gift is just a bonus. This is the period in which you will not be judged for possible self-serving gifts, like lingerie, a weekend getaway with a luxury golf course or dinner at your favorite restaurant, so take advantage... it may not last forever.
The Respect Phase
Immediately following the honeymoon phase of the relationship reality sets in. You and your partner have spent enough time together to have found each other's strengths and weaknesses. Being the hardest part of the relationship, generally, this phase establishes a deep respect for one another. The duration of criticism and, hopefully, acceptance of faults varies among couples, each having their own unique set of circumstances and obstacles to overcome.
Couples that are working through the respect phase of their relationship should not dwell on their differences, but focus on the things that bring them together. Valentine's gifts, therefore, should be something that you both enjoy doing. Perhaps you both like dancing, so you sign up for couples tango lessons. Cooking, wine, art, history or whatever your commonalities may be, it is important to remind yourselves why you love being with each other.
The Commitment Phase
After a mutual respect is built between a couple, they tend to move into the serious commitment phase of their relationship. For some, this is moving into the same living quarters, for others this may mean engagement or marriage. However this stage is reflected in your relationship, there is a dedication and promise that each of you are fully committed to the other. It is easy for partners to become comfortable, or even complacent, during this stage, so it is important to maintain passion and interest.
If you find yourself in this period of your relationship, spice it up! Bring back that old passion and romance that may have gotten lost along the way. Purchase a couples massage or a small vacation get away that will surprise her, and put that fire back in your relationship. Women love to be surprised after being with someone long enough that they can predict their every move. Take a hint guys!
The Soulmates Phase
As you age together, you find that you cannot imagine your life without your special lady, nor she without you. This is the moment in which you decide that you were meant for each other and that, despite all the trials and tribulations, good times and bad, you are you, because she is with you. The two of you are soulmates.
At this point in your relationship, Valentine's gifts should center around reflection. Enjoy the memories of your lives together by revisiting an old date spot, creating a scrapbook with old photos and letters or renewing your vows.
As a romantic, these are the things that I hope to receive from my significant other as we continue our journey together. Your journey may be a different one. Whatever Valentine's gift you decide to give your mate this year, include a big kiss and an “I love you”; because let's face it... that's all she really ever wanted.
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