Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue. I’m Dreading My First Valentine’s Day...Are You, Too?

Valentine's Day Dread: illustration of Valentine’s Sweethearts candies
Adrienne Bresnahan/Getty images

I was 12 years old when I received my first Valentine’s Day gift from my crush. It was the Hallmark crap of a sixth grader’s dreams—a plush, white stuffed bear holding an embroidered sign that read, “I Love You” with a giant Ghirardelli heart-shaped box—from the cutest, curly-haired boy in the grade. Nothing reads Be Mine like caramel chocolates.

This is it, I thought. He’s mine and I’m his. That is, until news broke that He Who Must Not Be Named gifted the same thing to a girl in the grade above. That day in the sixth grade proved two things: Valentine’s Day was nothing but empty words and, sooner-or-later, the chocolate will run out.

That first “love” came with unforeseen conditions. I love you…but I love her, too. I love you…but only if you love me back first. Like a dodgy Valentine’s cutout card, I was left to glue myself back together.

So forgive me when I say I’m dreading my first real Valentine’s Day.

With no ‘other woman’ this go-around, I’m left to take a long look in the mirror. I’ve never felt more secure, more loved and more wanted in my one-year relationship. So why does the thought of dinner with candles, The Notebook-level love letters and lingerie at the end of the night absolutely terrify me?

(Babe, if you’re reading: It’s not you, it’s me. No…really.)

It’s safe to say the sugar in this box of chocolates has been diluted over years of a shaky self-worth, social pressures and a seemingly high romantic bar. I think this is partly because I, like many women, have always questioned, “Am I enough?” Call it maturity, defiance or what have you, but when I think about the one day of the year dedicated to that four-letter word, there’s a deafening voice desperate to break free from my head and shout why?

Why do I feel the need to purchase a risqué lingerie and garter belt set? Will he deem me sexy beyond belief when I wear that dental floss thong or think me wife material when I present a home-cooked meal? Even typing this out makes me want to roll my eyes. This largely has to do with the society I grew up in, watching my stay-at-home mom dote on my bread-winning father. And while today’s perceptions of what a partnership looks like continue to evolve, the expectations of Valentine’s Day stay relatively the same; courtship with all the stops—nothing spared.

But here’s the thing: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want it, either—that glitter-adorned kitschy Hallmark illustrated card, chocolate boxes with the coconut-filled squares left out of sight because “I know you don’t like those,” never-ending stolen glances followed by sappy, “I love you’s” and a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. (I can buy myself flowers, Miley, but I don’t always want to.) While every part of me runs away from the notion of being mushy-gushy for the sake of show-and-tell, there’s a part of me that wants to revel in every second of it. I’m realizing more than ever that love, though not reserved for a one-day-only deal, is OK to be celebrated ad nauseum. If love is the expectation, then let there be love, gosh darnit!

Almost 15 years after that fateful sixth grade V-Day fiasco, some things haven’t changed, but like the 12-year-old letting go of her bear, it’s time I let go of this dread—the dread of not living up to the nauseating standard of a perfect Valentine’s Day. And, thankfully, sixth grade me got some things so wrong: “I love you’s” aren’t always Valentine’s fluff…but if they are and you run out of your box of chocolates, there’s plenty more to buy in the clearance section, tomorrow.

The 56 Best Valentine’s Day Gifts for Her, from $8 to $1,500

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Associate Fashion Commerce Editor

Stephanie Meraz is PureWow’s Associate Fashion Commerce Editor. Stephanie is a natural savant in the fashion, beauty, and dating & relationships beats. She has over 22+ years...