Valentine‚Äôs Day should be abolished.
Yes, I am single, but that‚Äôs not why I think that we should abolish this “holiday” that is more manufactured, primped, plumped, and full of unrealistic expectations and phony statements of love than a convention of southern belles trying to break into reality TV.
Professionally I have to say that as a divorce and child custody lawyer, I call Valentine‚Äôs Day the Lawyers Full Employment Act. This day causes all types of emotional damage to both men and women. It‚Äôs when wives find out about girlfriends, and when girlfriends try their very best to have the most romantic day possible to make sure that “he loves me.” Babies are pictured on this day behind the magic and mystery of champagne clinking at the beach in view of the Santa Monica Pier, right before the run to a hotel for room service.
For the men it is a day filled with frustratingly absurd expectations as to what to say, how to act and most deadly, how not to propose. This is the day that Hallmark has wrought, and the false beliefs and outrageous concepts about what love is and how it is shown have been crafted to align with the Hollywood dream factory view of romance and eternal, all enduring love.
Women love this stuff. It‚Äôs what Rom-Coms like “Pretty Woman” and “Romancing the Stone” are made of. The ideal ever after. Unfortunately it is more like “War of the Roses” with a good dash of “Jurassic Park,” except that the dinosaurs are the lovers in this version.
There‚Äôs a reason for the anger and frustration in break-ups post Valentine‚Äôs Day euphoria; the emotional let down. The tales of enduring love with the “happily ever after” ending are as old as time, and they make great stories and movies. Who doesn‚Äôt love to lose themselves in a great movie and forget about their real world troubles? That‚Äôs why movies are so much fun, because they take us out of ourselves and our lives of demanding bosses, screaming clients and that scourge of the 20th century ‚Äî the electronic phone tree to get through to a business. We crave the escapism of the darkened theater, the experience for two hours or being a superhero, or a damsel in distress who is saved by the man on a white horse.
The movies are great because we know that they are fake. No adult really thinks they will be bit by a magic spider and suddenly have “Spidey powers” and if they do, well they usually end up in a hospital being monitored for delusional thinking.
Maybe I‚Äôm wrong. Maybe Valentine‚Äôs Day is all about the experience of getting outside of our boring day-to-day lives. Perhaps it‚Äôs about forgetting ourselves for a day and being the damsel or the white knight. What if Valentine‚Äôs Day is all about the feelings of being special, to one person, on that one day? Well then it‚Äôs an experience to be enjoyed.
Valentine‚Äôs Day can and should be a fun day. It should be like going to Disneyland, a place that has had so much to do with creating the modern day view of what love and romance is. We go to Disneyland to escape, for a day, and to enjoy the magic. But we know it has to end, so that we don‚Äôt have the expectation that it will continue.
If we approached Valentine‚Äôs Day with that same level of awareness for a day, it can be a wonderful experience. However, it is harder to do when it comes to matters of the heart.
We speak of “falling” in love. Really, we fall in lust and love develops over time. I know because as a man I can tell you we feel lust pretty much all the time. Love not so much. Because love, truly loving someone, takes time to develop. The best relationships I observe and want to emulate have been slow burns to love.
As a family law attorney I deal on a regular basis with people who “fall in love” but were really just in lust. The man who comes to my office to discuss his options with the cocktail waitress he got pregnant on their third date did not love her. The sobering fact of his impending fatherhood was the coldest shower he has ever taken, and the rude awakening she received was that he was more interested in being a father to their child than a husband to her.
Valentine‚Äôs Day can be a fun day of escapist romance, but let‚Äôs keep in mind that it is just like a movie, and has to come to an end. Unlike the happily ever afters of Hollywood, this is just a day trip.
If you want the real happily ever after, go slow and keep a realistic appraisal of the day, the person you are with and what you really want in life. It‚Äôs not all roses and chocolates ‚Äî that‚Äôs just for Hallmark to sell cards.
David Pisarra is a divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father‚Äôs and men‚Äôs rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.