With total spending expected to exceed $17.6 billion according to the National Retail Federation, there is no denying that Valentine’s Day is a money generator for the nation’s retail outlets.  With so much money at stake and competition for your dollars, the pressure is on for you to get out there and stimulate the economy.  During my annual “oh shit” last minute gift shopping, I see men scrambling to find something to bring home to  loved ones that don’t make them look like total frauds.  It can be a comical out-of-body experience at times.  The average spend per male hominid is projected at $168.74 vs $85.76 for women further demonstrating society’s perception that Valentine’s Day is a woman’s holiday.  Dudes, that is some pressure for your ass.

So before you shell out a couple hundred gold pieces on perfume, jewelry, candy or naughty night clothes (actually that last one is not so terribly wrong, is it?), consider whether or not your gallantry matters at all.  Man Up guys.  It is time to evolve.

Poking around on the inter-webs and asking women for an honest response, I’ve come to learn that our perception and their expectations are disconnected.  This is particularly the case with those who have been in committed relationships for quite some time.  In an article written by Heidi Brown for Forbes.com, she points out that “women want things that a partner could easily provide, but might never guess.”  Things like “breakfast in bed”, “a kiss and a cup of coffee when she wakes up”, or a “card with more than just a husband’s signature, but with actual words that explain why and how much he loves me.”  

In my own unscientific yet still critical polling, women tell me that “it’s a day more meant for young lovers”, “I want special alone time, undivided attention with no kids and no cell phone” “some special time reflecting on how far we’ve come, preferably in a tub with wine in hand.”  And one of my favorites… “mutual recognition of love”.  This is the kind of shit that scares us for sure.  And I know what you’re thinking.  “How do I know that they just aren’t saying this so as not to come across like gold-digging, self-centered hussies?”  Because, my friends, YOU are going to pose the question yourself.  According to Jerry Shapiro, who teaches counseling psychology at Santa Clara University in California, “women are reluctant to communicate their expectations to their partner.”  She doesn’t tell you, you don’t ask, and the retail industry stands to earn over $17 billion from your lack of communication.  Shapiro continues, “Women think that if they have to spell out what they want, that gift somehow doesn’t count.”  Attention ladies:  Just stop this nonsensical rationalization.  It’s just too much to expect from hunter-gatherers.

So gents, your task for this step in the evolutionary journey is to 1) set a low budget; 2) get creative and 3) for goodness sake tell the woman that you love her and mean it.  I realize that I will be the toughest person to convince.  With a wife and two daughters, my average Valentine’s Day spend exceeds $300.  I decided to pose the question to my own bride of 23 years to which she quips, “something good to eat and something sweet at the end.  And you can interpret that anyway you want to.”  I love that chick!

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