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What your sweetheart really wants for Valentine’s Day

Love, love, love!

February is here, and for all the lovers – and the haters – Valentine’s Day is here along with it. The most polarizing of the retail holidays (and fourth in sales behind Christmas, back to school, and Mother’s Day), Valentine’s Day is layered, to say the least: with expectations, with joy, with heartbreak, and usually with some combination of each.

For some, February 14th carries the pressure of having to prove to your sweetheart just how much you love them, or being shown just how much they love you. With $3.4 billion in jewelry and $1.7 billion in lingerie sold across the country, Canadian couples spend an average of about $170 on Valentine’s Day alone, proving how much their love is “worth” to another.

Is it worth it? It seems kind of silly when you think about it, to need to participate in all that pressure (on your heart and wallet) on one day alone. What if we looked at Valentine’s Day not as a totem of proving our love to one another, but as a chance to really invest in our relationship or intimate partnership?

Personally I am a hopeful romantic; I love the gestures, grand and small, because I love the romance of it. Even as a single woman, I can’t find the cynicism to hate Valentine’s Day. But as the relentlessly optimistic realist that I am, looking at the numbers, there seems to be something more we could do to really move our relationships to the next level – and I don’t mean with karats worth of diamonds that come in a little blue box (although…if you’re asking…).

Sex and money impact our relationships more than we tend to give them credit for: having healthy, open communication with our partner about our finances, our goals, and yes, our – ahem – after school activities – is paramount to the success of our relationships. When there is a breakdown in communication, if there is shame, resentment, or a power differential that comes from an imbalance in incoming or outgoing cash, the relationship itself tends to experience a breakdown.

So what if we used Valentine’s Day to really open that conversation up with one another? What if we dimmed the lights, put a little Motown on the record player, made a beautiful dinner at home with candles and pasta carbonara, and talked about our vision of our future? Made a list of all the places we want to go, and – ahem – things we want to do when we get there? What if we let go of the pressure to hand over the receipt for how much we love someone, and focus on making every day special together, and make it more special by having the courage to be upfront about what we want out of this time together?

There is nothing sexier than eye contact and clear communication about desire. Frankly I’d take that over a dozen long stemmed anything, any day of the week or year. This year as V Day inches towards you with the lure of truffles, prix fixe, and all four C’s, maybe sit down together and be very clear about how valuable you are to one another – and what you can do to support each other moving forward.

And if you’re single? Ain’t no shame in curling up with a Bradley Cooper marathon on the couch…and throwing that extra $170 in your TFSA.

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