Advice From the Trenches

Is Valentine’s Day a Made-up Holiday?: Or is this reader’s relationship a fake?

Dear C and Dr. B;

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and, as always, my boyfriend of four years blew it off. He says it’s a BS Hallmark holiday made for corporate profits only and then sold to the masses to feed their romantic delusions. He says that 50% of Americans don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day any longer. He is armed with statistics that prove that gift shops, florists and restaurants that rely on this holiday to increase profits in February are having a real tough time because fewer people buy now. He says Valentine’s Day as an American tradition is doomed. 

I know he’s probably right. But it just makes me feel depressed, like he doesn’t care. He tells me to grow up. Should I grow up, or is he an asshole?

Valencia Blue

Dr. B says: There are two issues here. First – on one level, he’s right. Society has changed. When you look at it as a whole, Valentine’s Day is pretty much a male chauvinistic tradition. It assumes the woman is taking care of the family and home, and that having her man fretting over her is a token sign of love and devotion. Today, the reality is that in our culture women are as likely to be away at work as any man is, and she can buy her own flowers if she feels the need to have flowers. 

Love shouldn’t be about buying things. It’s enough that Christmas cheer and goodness have become represented by one manufactured and faked perfect day. Those things are either there, or not, in every day we live. Having one pressured day to be perfect can’t and shouldn’t make up for 364 other days where things are lacking. I personally don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day and won’t miss it if it disappears from the culture. But don’t fret – I hear there is already a corporate move to replace Valentine’s Day with other manufactured holidays.

But the second issue – if you like it, he should non-the-less just do it for you.

C says: If I get a vote here, I’d say that your boyfriend is an asshole about Valentine’s Day. I can’t say if he’s an asshole about anything else, because you haven’t mentioned how he is about the TV remote or cleaning up after himself. But about Valentine’s Day? The guy is still an adolescent.

The typical mistake adolescents, and small thinkers, make is to confuse theory with reality. They set their minds on an idea that they have worked out in their head, and they search for facts to back up their theory, and they find those facts because they are ONLY looking for stuff to back up their theory. You can find anything to back up a theory if that’s all you are looking for. This is how crap like QAnon conspiracies get their tentacles into people’s brains.

However, if you take the horse blinders off and look at the big picture, you will always find some other facts you didn’t look for that paint an entirely different picture. This is what every defense lawyer in the world stakes his/her living on, and what spin doctors and conspiracy mongers thrive on. You can create an argument for any theory if you are conveniently willing to overlook a myriad of other existing facts and possibilities.

In the case of Valentine’s Day, the point isn’t whether your boyfriend is right about his economic philosophies and theories or not – the point is that he is making you feel like garbage and he doesn’t seem to care. 

I have a suggestion – on his next birthday, instead of doing anything special for him, present him with a reasonable explanation as to how since nearly 100% of Americans don’t celebrate his birthday, you see no reason to either. (I’m laughing already.)

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