Freeing Ourselves From Valentine’s Day

I don’t expect to have sex on Valentine’s Day. Neither should you.

It’s OK if it happens, of course; I just don’t expect it.

My patients have shown me over and over that expectations like that create problems. It’s even worse when you don’t tell your partner what you’re assuming.

But say you’re like many people. You look forward to sex on Valentines Day, or your birthday, anniversary, weekend away, or the day that the kids are with their uncle. You buy a bottle of champagne, or frilly underwear, or flavored condoms. Maybe you drop a few hints. Maybe your partner gets the hint, maybe not. You aren’t quite sure.

You tell your best friend what you hope will happen. Maybe you say it better happen—after all, you two don’t do it as much as you used to. And you get plenty of support from the usual suspects: Cosmo, Maxim, every sex advice website on the planet. They tell you to make the sex a big deal, prepare for a special night, make this the first day of the rest of your sex life.

Or let’s say you don’t expect (or want) sex on Valentine’s Day, but you think your mate probably does. And it better be great, right—you figure that’s probably what your partner’s thinking. Are you up to the challenge? Can you lose 5 pounds in 3 days so you feel sexy? Are you prepared to “give” your partner the best orgasm in history, knowing that you’ll be bored or self-conscious or a little sore by the time the big moment happens—if it does?

Is it possible to load more pressure on our sexuality? Is it possible to invite more disappointment, more misunderstanding, more frustration? I don’t think so.

It’s bad enough that there’s a special holiday on which people are supposed to drop the everyday, truly meaningful ways they expression affection (like changing the catbox when it’s not your turn) in favor of made-up stuff like chocolates, flowers, and limo rides. It’s worse when people imagine they “should” have sex on this day (often in the middle of the week!), disrespecting all the reasons they don’t have or don’t enjoy sex as much as they used to.

Sex on Valentine’s Day? If you want it, let your partner know—just don’t expect it. If your partner says no, don’t take it personally. Just like having sex means different things to different people, so does not having sex. And if your partner wants sex but you don’t, be friendly and say no thank you. Do not have sex if you don’t want to. People who do that give sex a bad name.

Valentine’s Day: the day of erotic pressure. Don’t blame Hallmark–we do it to ourselves.

So don’t!

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