Opinion: It’s OK not to have big plans for Valentine’s Day

The holiday often creates unrealistic expectations, but it doesn’t have to be that way.


Megan Conroy

A bouquet of roses is seen at Beno’s Flowers and Gifts on February 12, 2019.

Signe Nettum, Columnist

In elementary school, I decorated a brown paper bag in the hope of earning the most valentines from my classmates. The best-decorated bag usually earned the most pieces of paper with your name and a classmate’s name.

In middle school, I gave a card to my crush on Valentine’s Day. Later that day, I found the crudely made letter in the trashcan of a classroom we shared. A friend invited me to her Galentine’s get-together when she heard of my broken heart.

In high school, multiple classrooms would be filled with singing valentines — choir kids for-hire to sing cheesy love songs — each sent by sweethearts; I would send them to my friends who did not like being the center of attention. The next year, my schedule was filled with singing valentines, singing cheesy songs while passing out Hershey’s Kisses.

Last year, I tried to boost my spirits and calm my anxiety by planning a small dinner-and-movie date with my then-boyfriend. He did not think we had a strong enough connection to warrant a fancy dinner and instead opted for a coffee date.

Safe to say, I have a well-harbored wariness for the holiday.

Thankfully, through proper communication — a combination of frantic texts and long face-to-face conversations — my current boyfriend and I have gone through all of the different dates we could have this Valentine’s Day.

We decided not to add the unnecessary stress of planning an elaborate date on the labeled day. Since we started dating, we always have Friday dates. Valentine’s Day will not be different; it is just a Friday with a different name. The date could either be a home-cooked meal in a small kitchen or a quick dinner at a restaurant before a movie or TV marathon.

If you want to order a pizza and stay in and watch a sappy rom-com, be my guest.

With the worthless expectations thrown away, we each reminisced about the traditions our families have on holidays or special days. I learned that almost every birthday growing up, he hosted a pizza party and invited all of his friends to his house. If we had the time, my family and I made heart-shaped pizzas on Valentine’s Day.

Since moving onto college and leaving our homes, we missed the small events we would have with the people we cared for. When we both realized we had a shared connection over pizza parties, we decided to try to make our own pizzas for dinner. Instead of making them from fresh pizza dough, or buying a pizza from a take-out place, we would make them from semi-scratch — we are college students, after all, not proper chefs.

While it may seem special to an onlooker, it is a typical Friday night dinner for us, the only attribution being the shape of the pizza.

You don’t need to make Valentine’s Day a big deal if you do not want to. Talk to your partner, discuss what you think of the holiday. If you want to plan, then plan. If you want to be spontaneous, get ready for some bumps in the road. If you want to order a pizza and stay in and watch a sappy rom-com, be my guest.

Make it as special or as unspecial if you want. As long as you and your partner communicate and either want to accept the cultural belief of going over the top of your date or not, the day will go a lot smoother.

As for my Valentine’s Day plans, I’ll be eating homemade pizza, watching The Mandalorian, and playing Magic: The Gathering.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.