(Emily V. Gordon was a couples and family therapist before becoming a full-time freelancer writer. She is isn't a fan of Valentine's Day. We’ll let her explain.)

Valentine's Day is coming, and I know that it's a source of stress for men around the country, so let me do my best to reassure/depress you by informing you that no matter what you do, Valentine's Day is most likely going to suck.

When I was a therapist, I talked to my clients a lot about expectations, and about how not communicating your expectations is the number one cause of conflict between couples, in families, and so on and etc. forever. Sure, you shouldn't have to tell Johnny to make dinner when you're in the middle of that big project at work, he should just know, but he doesn't, and the end result is you being upset and feeling unloved… and there's still no dinner.

No one day sets expectations more insanely high and more unreasonably than Valentine's Day. It's like New Years Eve times a thousand, minus the sequins. It's a bog of self-esteem for everyone, single or attached. As it is the one day of the year that men are supposed to do all the fun work of romancing, the pressure of it causes a lot of men to collapse in on themselves like a black hole choked with rose petals and crappy chocolate.


Men, please know that we feel just as conflicted about Valentine's Day as you do. Some of us love it and want to be wined and dined, some of us hate it and want to be wined and dined, and some of us genuinely want nothing to do with it. Personally, I think it's a completely ridiculous holiday, invented to spur on candy, card, and flower sales post-Christmas, and who on Earth needs a holiday to show the person you love that you love them?! Yet, I like grand gestures and flowers just as much as any character in a Katherine Heigl movie. That's my point. What we all have in common- single, involved, straight, gay, anti-establishment or pro-Hallmark- is that we all want to feel valued and appreciated by the person we love. That's it.

So here's my suggestion for you this year -- If you're in a relationship, go up to your partner tomorrow and ask her what her ideal Valentine's Day would be. She'll say "Oh nothing, as long as I'm with you", but keep asking. Ask her about what would make her feel special, what would be her idea of a romantic night, what silly romantic things she secretly loves- ask all the questions you can. Find out what her dream scenario is, and after you've put some thought into it, let her know what your idea of a romantic night would be as well.

Then, well before Valentine's Day, make her dream come true. Show up with flowers, violins playing, a movie, a fancy restaurant- go all out. Not only will it be uncrowded and cheaper, but she'll see that you don't need a silly holiday to make her dreams come true. With any luck, it'll spur her on to do the same for you, because Valentine's Day should be a two-way street.

Then, on holiday of love itself, you two can make dinner, hang out at home and watch 'It's Always Sunny' reruns (Is their anyone more romantic than Frank Reynolds???), and laugh at all the amateurs out there trying to force a memorable night. Isn't that romantic?


Emily V. Gordon is a couples and family therapist turned freelance writer, comedy producer, and video game talker-abouter. You can find her at Huffington Post, xoJane, and Nerdist! You can find her on Twitter and her own blog too.

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