This just in: Men prefer sex to a Valentine gift.

thStop the presses, right? It certainly doesn’t surprise me that 66% of the men polled by Retail Me Not would choose the pleasures of the flesh over, say, a teddy bear holding a red sateen heart embossed with “I Wuv You.”

They’re likely to be disappointed. In the same survey, 70% of the women said they’d much rather have a present than an extremely personal moment.

Selfish? Maybe. But let’s face it: Most women in relationships can get all the sex they want. Gifts, on the other hand, are a surprise.

Well, sort of: Apparently it’s expected that we’ll be getting gifts on Valentine’s Day. Just flip through any store circular, turn on the TV or surf the Internet to be bombarded by ads that shriek some version of, “Feb. 14 is at hand! Buy the right gift or you won’t get laid for the rest of the year!

I feel sorry for the men. Each year they’re tasked with reading their partners’ minds, especially as regards what not to get, yet they’re also supposed to do something utterly unique.

Those who’ve been dating for a while are likely to feel pressured to produce a ring and pop a question. For an over-the-top example of this kind of pressure, see a Washington Post article called “One-Ring Circus.” Although it was published in 2008, it reads like the 1950s. (Well, except for the fact that they were already living together.)

The author admits she’s been obsessed with weddings since early childhood. As an adult, she went so far as to create an “Engagement Watch Team,” a group of pals who helped “scrutinize his every move.”

Does anyone but me find that not only appalling, but tiresome? If a friend asked me to dissect her boyfriend’s behavior and listen to her kvetch about why he hadn’t asked her to marry him yet, I’d be tempted to suggest that her high-maintenance neediness might be the reason he wasn’t rushing to commit. I’d also asked to be kicked off the “team,” pronto.

She’s lucky her boyfriend didn’t do the same. At one point he copped to feeling like he had “a 500-pound brick” on his shoulder. If someone had been nagging me and even going so far as to ask whether I could “speed this up,” I’d probably speed for the door.

Believe it or not, he actually did propose.

The richness of a relationship

We’re not doing an evening out for Valentine’s Day. Apparently that’s a growing trend. The RMN survey said that 38% of interviewees would be fine with staying home on Feb. 14, compared with 28% in 2013. However, 57% of those surveyed said going out would be “preferred.”

Going out to dinner isn’t in the cards, in part because of my new economic reality but mostly because DF likes to cook. We just don’t go out to eat, because our meals at home are not only delicious but also comfortable and cozy. (Frugal, too, since we’re still eating out of the pantry.)  

Your mileage may vary. I think you should celebrate romance the way you want to, but try to avoid going into debt to do it.

As for us, we’ll do what we generally do: Fix dinner together, talk, laugh, enjoy each other’s company and remain in love. The richness of a relationship isn’t determined by the number of dollar signs in it.

Readers: What are your plans (if any) for Valentine’s Day?

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  1. Ugh, I really dislike Valentine’s Day. If not for visual reminders I wouldn’t even realize it is a holiday. Needless to say we won’t be acknowledging the day, nor have we ever in 24 years of marriage. It just seems so silly to me. But then again, I’m not a big birthday anniversary person either.

  2. I always celebrate holidays. I love holidays. However, most often I am alone. Already, I have gotten Valentine M&Ms for myself. One year, I made the meat loaf in my heart cake pan. Yes, my idea of Valentine’s Day is low key, VERY low key. The years someone has taken me out to celebrate, I have preferred NOT to go on the 14th. Restaurants and such are too crowded.

    One year, a guy I was dating around Valentine’s Day paid off my car, saying, “I know this is not romantic, but you really need this.” He handed me my car title, and I cried and told him how romantic his gift was. I had just bought this junker car, and he knew from whom I had bought it. This was a guy with whom I had not had one intimate moment. No, we never did. I think that was the most heartfelt gift I ever received for Valentine’s Day.

  3. Ro in San Diego

    We are having a decidedly unromantic Valentine’s Day – my husband is having a medical treatment that day and will recover at home in the evening. We will have a home-cooked meal that night.

    Feb 16 we celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary. I am just so happy we still have him on this planet since a sudden illness almost took him from me 2 years ago.

    I voted against a big chunk of diamond for my wedding ring choosing a unique antique gold band. My ring was off for the first time in 29 years last week and I decided I’d rather cut my sodium intake than have the ring off my finger another minute. It’s back on now and I’m cutting back on salt.

    • Donna Freedman

      Congratulations on your anniversary, and you’re right: Hold him tight and appreciate every moment. I hope he’s feeling better soon.

  4. We don’t do v-day.

    • Donna Freedman

      Good to know we’re not alone! This may sound corny, but I feel as though every day were Valentine’s Day because DF frequently tells me that he loves me — and, more important, shows that he loves me by treating me with kindness and respect. I’m his partner, not his maid. Bless his heart.

  5. I got married on Valentine’s Day (first time around). It really was a Saturday and therefore convenient – also meant ex would remember our anniversary. However, we NEVER went out on Valentine’s Day.

  6. I guess I’m a cheap date, a box of candy usually did it for me for V-Day. I especially loved Whitman’s Samplers. Now that I’m a Type II diabetic, I’ll settle for a foot rub. ;o)

  7. Me & Sweet D celebrate how much we appreciate each other . . .the other 364 days of the year. Notes in the morning, appreciation of small things, enjoyable time spent together, cards and small surprise gifts. Feb. 14 is a really, really GOOD day to stay home and ignore the hype!

  8. GAG… another Hallmark holiday that is totally useless and painful for lots of people. WHY oh why do we not share the love all year?? Cheap and simple and very, very fulfilling. I really dislike V-day and I am married to the best guy on the planet. Let’s spend money on crap we don’t need and don’t want… Oh, wait, that might be Christmas.. I iz confused but then there are so many hollidaze I cannot keep them straight

  9. I will possibly watch a movie, read a library book, and hang out with my dogs. Also buy candy on sale the next day if I don’t feel to keep to go out and find some.

  10. Cathy in NJ

    Dinner out is the Valentine’s Day present. It may be romantic dinner for 3 as the daughter is coming along also. I currently am recovering from the flu (and I did get a flu shot) so VDay may be postponed. The plan was to go to Princeton, a cute college town, eat early and enjoy walking and window shopping.

  11. JerriHafler

    I’m not at all surprised that men prefer sex to Valentine’s gifts. After all, we all know what men are and what to expect from them. Given the choice I think they’d want the gift and sex too – cake and eat it, right? But in the right mood I’d be inclined to give him what he fancies, I mean sex is for women too. The more the merrier, I say.


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