Skip to comments.How Do I Love Thee? I'm Not Sure Yet
Posted on 02/12/2005 7:00:08 PM PST by NYC GOP Chick
By DAMIEN CAVE
IET GAUCHAT arrived at his new girlfriend's apartment on Valentine's Day a few years ago with box of chocolate candy and a card. Their first date had occurred only a few weeks earlier, and since he had just ended a serious relationship, Mr. Gauchat approached the holiday warily.
He figured candy was safe - a step up from the clip-on teddy bear he'd given to someone a few years back, yielding the complaint that he was "an emotional park bench." The idea was simply to keep the relationship in play, without moving it forward.
"I gave her mine first, feeling a bit sheepish," Mr. Gauchat, a 31-year-old software entrepreneur from Hoboken, recalled. "She then proceeded to pull out this nicely wrapped box, which had a blue cashmere sweater in it."
The clearly uneven rate of exchange, he said, "was an unmitigated disaster complete with tears, followed by breakup and nasty e-mails referring to my inability to 'validate her emotional needs.' "
There are probably no couples who consistently sail through Valentine's Day, each miraculously meeting and exceeding the other's expectations, neither one feeling put out or shortchanged.
But for those in the first flush of love or lust, the day casts a particularly long and ominous shadow, forcing couples to gamble on a relationship that has barely begun. Do too much, and you scare the other person away; too little and your date may be disappointed. Most people would prefer to just shut their eyes and hope it goes away, but of course it never does.
Steve Koppes, 47, a publicist and children's book author in Chicago, was so afraid of the Valentine's Day hex that he almost stopped dating altogether. Though he had spent most of 2004 alone and mildly miserable, he had a hard time facing the prospect of colossal, public romantic failure.
"I'd just rather not deal with it," he said.
Nevertheless, there is now a woman in the picture and Mr. Koppes - still unsure of what he will do - sees Valentine's Day bearing down on him like a freight train.
"You never really know what you're going to get or what's going to happen," Mr. Koppes said last week. "People get dismissed in the dating pool for the slightest provocation so if you don't hit just the right tone, you're out."
Trying to anticipate the romantic expectations of someone you don't know that well may in fact be impossible, said Barbara DeAngelis, author of "What Women Want Men to Know" (Hyperion, 2001). "People don't realize until it's too late that each of us has a secret relationship rule book based on a combination of expectation, fantasies or even television," she said. "We come into a relationship not even realizing we have it, but we enforce it immediately."
The misunderstandings, the tears, the breakups, usually revolve around a single question. Is Valentine's Day important?
For some - mostly men - the answer is a definitive no. They tend to see Feb. 14 as "a day on the calendar that vendors promote to get into their wallet," said Michael Webb, author of "The RoMANtic's Guide: Hundreds of Creative Tips for a Lifetime of Love" (Hyperion, 2000).
Others, he said - often women - "believe that what happens on Feb. 14 will be an indication of how the rest of their relationship will play out for eternity."
For the faint of heart, there's always leaving town. Mr. Gauchat's current girlfriend saw potential trouble coming and made plans to visit her family in Oregon over their first Valentine's Day together. They've been together ever since.
And of course it helps to have advance intelligence. Lucy Fowler, 29, a lawyer in Boston, said she pulled off a Valentine's Day coup a few years ago thanks to a friend who tipped her off that a new beau would be sending a dozen purple tulips. She liked him, but their first date had been only 10 days earlier; she hadn't gotten him anything because she didn't want to seem pushy or clingy.
"I freaked out because I realized that I would have to reciprocate without making it look like I was doing so only because I found out about the tulips," she said. "I wanted things not to be awkward."
So, like a prosecutor faced with a surprise witness, she put in a call to Zingerman's, a specialty food store in Ann Arbor, Mich., where the beau had attended law school. After hearing about her predicament, the saleswoman agreed to send him an e-mail message claiming that the gift was arriving late because of a software glitch.
"He loved it," Ms. Fowler said. Eventually the pair broke up, but amicably. "And to this day," she said, "he does not know that he received bread only in response to the tulips."
OK, we're amongst friends here, so don't be shy about telling your very own stories! ;D
Is this our regular Saturday night vacuous NYT writer thread?
Hubby gave me the BEST valentine's card when we were first going out. If only he had lived up to it.
I say that, because as you say, we are amoung friends here.
It kind of always makes me both sad and glad to think of it.
Do I sound liberal and stupid now? I hope not!
My husband gave me a mace keyring for Valentine's day once...
but then again, he also proposed to me on our first Valentine's day together, complete with giant hearts and flowers and my name in a store window, so that's pretty cool. It still made up for the mace, which he gave to me later!
It's quite an honor to be on the "Saturday night vacuous NYT writer ping list"
Of course not!
Flattery will take you far! :D
A chick who was trying to move things too far too fast.
The coolest gift I ever gave to a girl was an electronic drumkit!
Sounds needy and desperate to me.
Once you try that, you're doomed. DOOMED!
Before or after the restraining order?
"...nasty e-mails referring to my inability to 'validate her emotional needs.'"
I think old Piet dodged a bullet with this one.
Valentine's has always been one of the least important "holidays" to me. :-)
He should have seen that coming as soon as he opened the box and saw the *cashmere* sweater!
I have a cousin who's a parole officer - so it was no prob.
Kudos to NYT for another miserable and depressing Valentine's Day story. Maureen Dowd is obviously an editor there as well as a columnist.
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