When all the phone alarms start buzzing on the morning of February 14th, pressure sits on the chest of everyone in America. It’s Valentine’s Day. Some singles and even couples will claim to be ignorant of it, but it’s there, ready to intrude on the peaceful dinner or movie night. Valentine’s Day pressure is good because it reveals things about the character of a relationship.
Valentine’s Day is often understood to be a day of romance, and that’s why there is so much pressure to deliver. Romance becomes a standard by which you can evaluate the day. Along with Christmas and birthdays, it’s one of the few days when people can look at their relationship and see it for what it is. That kind of examination is scary for couples used to sliding along with Netflix and “You up?” texts.
This is good because a day of crystal clarity, like Valentine’s Day, reveals a lack of communication, effort, or compatibility. This can make it easy to see when a relationship is limping along and can end a bad one months before inevitable expiration. This saves everyone time and effort.
When I was dumb and in high school, I was traveling on Valentine’s Day and didn’t bother sending my girlfriend anything. She was understandably upset and the relationship ended. That was a good thing. Without Valentine’s Day revealing how callous I was, that breakup would have been prolonged and nasty.
The pressure of Valentine’s Day can reveal good things too. Last year, I was three months away from being seperated from my girlfriend indefinitely because she was graduating and I still had another year at Hillsdale. It was a scary time, when hidden doubts about our future started creeping into my head.
For Valentine’s Day, we went to a chocolate shop and had a fancy meal, but what made the day unique was that I showed her where I grew up. That tour forced us to communicate who we were and what we wanted. After the day was over, I knew our relationship was founded on something strong enough to last through a separation.
We are still together, and I owe that to the pressure of Valentine’s Day.