It's amazing that we don't find more men pulling out their own hair around Valentine's Day. Of course, most Black men don't carry a full head of hair, but that's beside the point. If you check out society's portrayals of what an ideal, healthy relationship might look like, most of it falls right in line with February's most popular day. But how much of this fantasy is actually indicative of our relationships?
Absolutely none of it. That's right. Zero. Zilch. Goose egg. Nada.
In a recent article, Real Life Relationships, we talked about looking past the fairytales and fantasies, and focusing on the effort it takes to effectively participate in a meaningful relationship. This whole Valentines thing isn't exactly promoting that.
The history of Valentine's Day and its patron saint, St. Valentine, is really not that clear. There are numerous stories about St. Valentine and how February 14th came to be known as, "Valentine's Day". One legend states that St. Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. During this time, Emperor Claudius II had the idea that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for the young guys. Valentine, who realized the injustice, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for star-crossed lovers in secret. When Claudius discovered this, he ordered that Valentine be put to death.
So every February, across the globe, flowers, candy, and other gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. Though it's traditional for men to give gifts to their female companions, it is not always a one-way exchange. Women can often be found expressing their undying love through gifts as well.
Unfortunately, our society takes instances such as Valentine's Day as a form of subconscious relationship advice to be used to promote dreamy fantasies. Most of us are too swept up in the emotions of expressing love through gifts and material items, that we forget to examine the true meaning of relationships and how we should really express love.
The consequence is a society where the popular belief is that fairytales can come true. You can buy flowers, candy, and a small gift on February 14th, thereby painting yourself as a loving image for the rest of your year. Most guys are lucky if those gifts grant them accolades past that day.
For women, it's even worse. Many are driven by the thoughts of a romantic beau, surprising them with heart-felt poems and bouquets of blushing flowers. All of this passionate attention creates the stirring of butterflies in the bosom, but somehow neglects the fact that February 15th comes tomorrow and it will be just another day.
The reason is because relationships are not built on fantasy and they certainly are not centered around a single day, even if that day was paid for with the blood of St. Valentine.
If you want to be cute and romantic on Valentine's Day, it's perfectly okay. Just don't think that your actions on this day will grant you any reprieves from future screw-ups.
Better yet, celebrate your love and romance on more than one day of the year. Be sweet and kind on March 3rd, June 9th, August 11th, and maybe even September 25th. The days you choose won't matter, as long as there are plenty of them, and your efforts are sincere.