Saint Valentine's Day is a lethal holiday, which is to say that it's not a holiday at all. More like the visit of an orderly bearing clean sheets to death row inmates in various stages of awareness and acceptance of life and love. I hope you will give yourselves permission to avoid its anxiety. Here's why and how easily to do it.
Facing Saint Valentine
I have yet to meet a queer couple telling me they fell in love because of something said or given on St. Valentine's Day although I suspect that such a couple may exist somewhere in the universe.
I have yet to meet a queer couple telling me that their love was saved by something said or given on Saint Valentine's Day.
The running of this annual romantic marathon is really not the sine qua non of love and does little to strengthen the heart muscles.
Everywhere, there are couples queer or otherwise who will scramble to make some expression of love on February 14th and will never quite be sure that their gift was strong enough, convincing and adequately appreciated. Everyone coupled will be glad when February 15th arrives, finding their partners not packed up and moved out. The uncoupled - both those who got laid on the 14th and those who didn't - will be relieved to once again be able to place their singlehood on the back burner of daily life.
Most of the above folks, in order to survive the 14th of February, will spend ridiculous amounts of money and time that could and should be devoted otherwise.
Look, I'm just as sentimental as the next guy. Gifts and sweet words are my language of love, actually, and my husband has learned to address that hunger, no matter how silly we both know it to be, and no matter how foreign that language may be to him. He also knows that what I really value is the fact that he takes time from his busy day to make some personal statement of what we both already know to be true and steadfast. What we give and say on Saint Valentine's Day is not proof or evidence of love; but a celebration of what we have together, and a celebration of the fact that after all these years, we still enjoy celebrating it.
OK then. Celebration is the keyword. Whether you are single or coupled, I would advise you to use the day to celebrate love by celebrating the people you already have in your life.
I know a couple that was going through a rough patch a few years ago. A dozen guys were at table over dinner on Saint Valentine's Day at the home of friends. After some wine, one of the couple bitterly blurted out that his partner had not given him anything for Valentine's Day. Silence followed. The partner, seated across from him, stood up and took off his shirt. Written across his chest was "I love you Mark". He then said "It's been on me for three days. But you wouldn't know that because you never look at me." Just then, our host emerged from the kitchen with an awkwardly pink heart-shaped cake.
If you are already coupled, try this exercise which is sometimes performed by couples' counselors: sit facing each other and remain silent while looking at each other with unbroken attention for one full minute. Seriously, this is much more difficult than it sounds. Then tell each other how it felt. Your words may surprise you.
Let Valentine's Day not be about imaginary lovers that probably don't exist. Let the day not be about the imaginary version of your partner that you'd prefer existed. Let the day be a celebration of your own self-love and the love you feel for all the good folks already in your life. You and they will all and always come up short and flawed as lovers. Celebrate that as well. And regarding the financial aspect of the holiday, instead of running to the mall at the last minute, consider making a donation to The Stonewall Library and Archives where the history of LGBTQ love is alive and needs your cash to stay open.