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My Stupid Valentine

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02/15/2011

My Stupid Valentine photo

The worst V-Day gift I ever received.

The very first Valentine’s Day that I had a boyfriend to celebrate it with was a disaster—not because he failed to mark the day, but because I realized that I thought the candy and roses were silly and cheesy.  In short, I realized that I think like a guy.

Here’s proof:  I can’t remember the date my husband and I first met or got engaged, and I ususally need to double-check with him just how many years we have been married.  I throw out sentimental cards and dislike keepsakes.  I believe that it is more important to show you love someone in little ways throughout the year, then with one or two big romantic gestures on a Hallmark-created holiday.  (Sound familiar anyone?)

And what I’d really like this year from my husband isn’t small and shiny.  No, mamma wants a big flat screen TV mounted on my family room wall and wired with surround sound.  (Brian, are you reading this?)

So, as someone who thinks like a guy let me reassure you that if yesterday you found yourself disappointed that your man failed to “bring it,” it probably has nothing to do with how much he loves you.  He’s a guy—and a lot of guys just aren’t good with holidays.

That said…a truly lousy gift, or no gift at all, it might be time to dump the schmuck.

It should go without saying that I’m defining a lousy gift as one with little or no thought behind it, NOT how much it cost.  Because how expensive a gift is often has little to do with how much heart was put into it.

For example, one of the most romantic gifts my husband ever gave me was an inexpensive box of chocolates that he left for me at the front desk of the hotel I was staying at in Vegas.  We had been dating about a month and coincidentally he was in Vegas a few days before me with his friends, and I knew that his friends were with him while he left the gift.  It told me he was unconcerned about some ribbing from the guys, and even while in Vegas, I was on his mind.  I knew than this was going to be a serious relationship, and 9 or 10 (who can remember?) years later, we’re still going strong.

And then there was the worst gift I ever received—a red flag that my relationship was over.  (And oddly, chocolate was involved.  Hmmm.)

After a 5 year on-and-off again relationship, my then-boyfriend—who I was still somewhat “with” at the time—gave me an M & M Candy Dispenser for the holidays.  Here’s the guy interpretation:

1.  I don’t usually eat M&Ms.  I mean, maybe if I was munching on them all the time it might make sense, or maybe if I was 12 and not 28 at the time.  Can you say thoughtless?

2.  It was a special edition, blue M&M man playing the sax.  He said it was funny and that he bought it because it looked like Bill Clinton.  BUT I’M REPUBLICAN.  And in 1992, I had helped to campaign for the other guy. (Bush Sr.)  Beyond lack of thought, the boy was so oblivious to my feelings that it didn’t once occur to him that I would not like a candy dispenser that reminded me of Bill Clinton.  (And no, he didn’t think it would be funny because it somehow insulted President Clinton.)  Can you say self-centered?

3.  When I told him the gift hurt my feelings a little, he didn’t reassure me otherwise.  Nope, instead he made me feel like a beeaattch for not being into the gift.  So basically he wanted me to [once again] put his feelings before my own.  Can you say goodbye?

So the moral of my blog goes a little something like this: gifts from good guys who are into you will have some thought into them.  The gift might not be romantic, the effort may have not been original or over the top, but most likely, the guy will have tried to make you smile.  So cut him some slack.

But dump a guy who somehow manages to make you feel bad about yourself—regardless of how much or little he spent on your gift.  And save the story years from now to laugh about with over drinks with your girlfriends. It may take a little time, but trust me when I say, an awful gift will be really funny someday.

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Finding love…with a little help from your friends

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02/15/2011

“According to a new nationally representative survey of 3,009 adults with a romantic partner, the Internet has now overtaken all the ways people meet, save one: meeting through friends. … Regardless of when they met, at least 32% of respondents said friends brought them together.” (“Friends No. 1 way to meet that Valentine, but Web is growing” USA Today, 02/11/2010)

Valentine’s Day is still in the air, so now is an appropriate time to look at the role friends play in romance. According to this survey, it’s a big one.

As I’ve mentioned, I generally avoid setting people up. Why? Perhaps I should share my most recent attempt at matchmaking.

Last month, I was sure I had come up with a compatible pairing. I talked each one up to the other (for ease, let’s call them Girl and Guy), forwarded contact information, the whole bit.

The first date was put on hold because Guy had recently been set up with someone else, and he wanted to see where that relationship would go before pursuing my offering. He thought Girl was cute but didn’t want to get himself caught up in two potential relationships at once. (Three cheers for my guy friends not being total crapweasels!) Fast forward one week and I get an email from Girl telling me that the “someone else” Guy had been set up with was… her best friend.

Of course it was.

Now she’s not interested, even if Guy and Girl’s BFF don’t work out, because it would just be too weird. Sloppy seconds and all that. (Or so I'm told.) And you can imagine the conversation when Girl told her BFF Guy’s name, only to learn that BFF and Guy were currently in the early stages of dating.

Fun stuff.

So, yeah. I avoid set-ups as a policy. But you shouldn’t. According to the survey above, friends are the most reliable method for meeting a “romantic partner.” (That is a silly phrase. I have never, nor will I ever, call Matt my romantic partner. Ew.)

While the Internet is efficient, psychologists say that real humans will always beat out the computer in terms of reliability for meeting others. And while I’m totally pro-Internet dating—I’m going to a Match.com wedding this summer!—I like that human connection wins out. Especially in a world where a computer is about to take on Ken Jennings. (Set your DVRs people. This week. It’s on.)

So this Valentine’s Day, perhaps the nicest thing you can do for your single BFF is to introduce her to some of your other single pals. You never know.

Unless you’re me. Then you do know. It won’t go well.

If you’re single, do you trust friends most of all when it comes to meeting a potential mate? Everyone, please do share your set up stories—good and bad. The worse they are, the more they’ll make us laugh.

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