I realised that I was over “romantic gifts” when my partner asked me for a PS4 game for our anniversary. I thought that it was ridiculously cheeky that he would ask for such a self-indulging gift, and not something that represented our love together.
This was a celebration of our relationship, not a birthday or Christmas. But was that really so bad? As he pointed out, why should it be ok for me to want roses and chocolates and jewellery, but not ok for him to want something that he would enjoy?
I bought him the PS4 game, and he bought me a Pandora charm, and years later we have come to the conclusion that gifts to mark romantic occasions are overrated. Here’s why.
The majority of gifts at Valentines are, let’s face it, overpriced tat.
A sweet way to show your affection, especially in the honeymoon period of a whirlwind romance, but essentially meaningless. On the other hand, you can push the boat out and buy something personalised and heartfelt. But then you’re at danger on it becoming a competition of who spent more, as if that somehow equates to your love for one another.
In fact, a lot of what Valentines gifts do is to ‘one-up’ other people; to assure yourself that your love is real. “He bought me this, she gave me that.” They are a fast-track way to pump your relationship with confidence.
Now I’m starting to sound very cynical. As a hopeless romantic, I do like to celebrate Valentines Day. But there is more to do that giving each other teddy bears and heart-shaped balloons.
There are ways to say “I care” other than buying gifts. If your relationship does stand the test of time, it won’t be the necklace they bought you or those flowers they sent that you actually value. It will be what you did together.
Invest in experiences rather than items. Go out for a meal, or cook one at home. Go to the theatre, or a café, or book a hotel room for a night. Visit a place you’ve always wanted to go together, or spend all day in bed.
It doesn’t even have to cost money – just set aside some time for each other.
Of course, this isn’t to say that you can’t shower your loved one with gifts this Valentines Day if that’s what you want to do (I still sleep with the teddy my fiancé gave me our first Valentines and its one of my favourite possessions).
But doing so won’t bring meaning to your relationship. It won’t prove anything, or make your love life significantly better.
Spend time together. Talk. Understand each other and do new things together. It will be worth much more than anything you can buy.
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