What you need to know:
- The connection between love and Valentine's is fast and loose and men are stuck in a social construct
- In the simplest terms, it's that feeling that you get when someone badgers you to do dishes when you were already planning to do them until you don't want to do them anymore
It feels like when you feel that you have dodged one Valentine's day and managed to get through it, the next one is already here. The day is sort of like the KRA filing returns deadline which catches you by surprise every year and all you can think about is getting it over with because of the hefty fines.
It's not love that people are opposed to though, in most cases. People like being in love. People like it when common sense momentarily leave their bodies and know that bad decisions will prelude. The same people love the "take my bank account and MPESA pin and let me show you where my secret plots are" sort of madness which makes us humans a specimen in dumb psychology. Love brings in the delirium and the alternative world of fantasies and an imagined future together.
Aristophanes, a comic playwright in Athens, in Plato's symposium, in between bouts of alcohol, gave a long memorable speech explaining our source of love and desire for each other- "Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature. Each of us, then, is a 'matching half' of a human whole…and each of us is always seeking the half that matches him."
The connection between love and Valentine's is fast and loose and men are stuck in a social construct. A few years ago, RetailMeNot, which is the largest digital coupon provider in the US, released survey data surrounding what consumers want for the day. Of those in relationships, 70 percent of the women surveyed preferred receiving a gift over sex. They wanted the men to put in the work and effort into something thoughtful and romantic. Would you like to guess what the men felt? If you're a Kenyan man, I don't think you'll be surprised—66 percent of men preferred sex over a gift. I think 69 percent would have been the perfect number but the numbers are what they are.
A different survey by the National Retail Federation found that most men (63 percent) and some women (31 percent) felt obligated to give a gift to their partner over Valentine and gave in. Couples in newer relationships felt pressured to give gifts than those in old ones.
When you look at it that way, this doesn't sound very romantic at all, does it? Most of us first experienced Valentine's Day for the first time in movies, because our homes didn't come with flowers and romance as part of the package. Then, campus and people would make a killing selling chocolate and cards and you either rushed to buy your "girlfriend" a Valentine's Day gift or someone else would. It was your choice.
Then we got to adulthood and it's a massive affair. People at workplaces are competing over who got the biggest bouquet and the women who didn't get gifts, will sometimes send themselves gifts, then pretend to be surprised when they get them. The whole day is a discussion about plans for the evening and the weekend. Which getaways you're planning and when you would take your main girl out and compensate for the day with your side chick, plus the perfect excuse you were to concoct for the main. (Shout out to all the girlfriends celebrating Valentines the weekend before or the weekend after).
Obligation drives Valentine's Day. It's one of the days that I, and many other men, feel that we could do without. Why do we feel that way? Some researchers chalk it down to a theory they refer to as reactance. In the simplest terms, it's that feeling that you get when someone badgers you to do dishes when you were already planning to do them until you don't want to do them anymore. We love choice and sometimes even its illusion. In this situation none of those two are available and so men either work hard to appease their partners or just don't put effort into it and wait to weather the storm.
In contrast, many men will overspend on Christmas and birthdays. They even enjoy them. Maybe it's time to stop making the person you love to feel obliged to make Valentine special when they don't care about it. Let them show you love, the best way they know how and however they like it.