In her recurring column, “Social in Security,” modern etiquette ambassador and Bell’INVITO founder Heather Wiese-Alexander walks us through a list of trusted tips you can rely on. Because now that we’re emerging back into the world, we want to do it as the best version of ourselves. This month, Wiese-Alexander is tackling Valentine’s Day.
Hello, lovers! I promise to add in a little Valentine’s Day etiquette, but before we get to that, let’s dish on the important stuff. It seems much more relevant this year to find out how you were feeling about V-Day rather than assume. With help from friends, I asked around. First—who’s excited about this holiday? Interestingly, most of you are, and by a long shot. I had six times more say “Yay!” than “Nay!”
Know Your Audience
Now I’m curious what you’re really looking forward to. It seems a sweeping majority of you will be eating chocolate, indulging in some wine, and getting or sending flowers. Nearly everyone I asked included one if not all three. What about gifting when you’re single/newly dating? I definitely asked. There was a common theme I didn’t expect. The consensus was to keep it small and personal. Literally, all my single or newly dating interviewees didn’t want the pressure of receiving anything over the top. And, while (inserting Valentine’s Day etiquette moment) a gift never has to be reciprocated, only appreciated, there is something about our nature that makes us feel like we must match the level of gifting that we’ve received—or anticipate receiving. As always, know your audience. Gift from the heart—but maybe not a heart. A fair amount of those questioned voluntarily added a mention of their appreciation for something un-cliché, not that they would be ungrateful for any gesture (wink).
In contrast, the ones with the “in a relationship” status, well…lots of sparkle was mentioned more than many times from the ladies. Gentlemen, however, wanted more experiences (beyond the bedroom, but that notwithstanding) than gifts. Missy Rogers Peck would love something from Sue Gragg (you’re welcome, Tim!).
Interestingly, while about half of you are going out, the other half plan to stay in to watch movies or cook dinner with a lover or loved ones. I loved Billy Fong’s take on how this Monday might roll out, “It’s like most days. Have my iced coffee and then likely finding a cute emoji or message to send around to my family of friends wishing them a fabulous Valentine’s Day. Then my partner and I will go to dinner on the 15th. I don’t like dealing with the crowds on the 14th so this year am opting for Tuesday night instead.”
Did I mention experience gifts were more prevalent than products? This was the actual question: A thrilling surprise on V-day would be a/an: A) gift to unwrap, or, B) experience to remember. Literally only two As. Notable Dallas bachelors Reed Chisenhall and Davis Wells were no exception. Reed mentioned concert tickets and Davis called out a Mavs or Stars game. Ladies, you’re listening, right?
The Rules of Attraction
In the true spirit of romance and all things Valentine, I want to know what people loved about their lovers—or wanted in a lover. Can we really celebrate properly without a little attraction talk? Having a range from single to newly-coupled to relationship-masters, this was a question posed to a group who could answer by name or anonymously: What trait drives you craziest (in all the good ways) about a partner, or what’s the sexiest thing about your partner?
Most specifically, “sense of humor” was prevalent regardless of gender. The ladies want attention—not the kind that says, “I noticed you,” but the kind that says, “I see you,” and can prove it with some details. To quote someone who wanted to remain anonymous, “He is a really intent listener and remembers the smallest details about me.” “Intentional” seems to be the buzzword for the 2022 woman. While she/her weigh-ins still definitely noted arms, hair, and a number of other relatively G-rated body parts, the he/him answers were more to the point, “Sex drive”, “Confidence”, and “Ambition” were the accompaniments to the commonly admired humor trait.
First Date on Valentine’s Day?
Singles about town—you’re out on Valentine’s Day and someone catches your eye. Do you let love happen, or maybe get a contact and circle back on a less pressure-filled day? Of those asked, only two said: “circle back.” Hello, sweet validation. All the single ladies, all the single ladies, now put your hands up! If you’re looking for a prime location to go out on Monday night, Catherine Neilson, eligible single gal, suggests Inwood Tavern — guys, take note and meet her on the dancefloor.
The Sex Talk
Would we be real here without a little pillow talk? Of course, I asked. How important is sex on Valentine’s Day? On a scale of 1-10, less than half gave it below an 8. Of those who ranked it 8-10, I asked if romantic or adventuresome was more important. One lone ranger grabbed for the adventuresome fruit, a small few said both, and a surprising majority of both men and women leaned into the romantic notion. And—more women mentioned lingerie than men. In fact, no men mentioned or alluded to lingerie. Hmmm. Did I miss a memo?
I asked everyone about their love language and their partner’s love language. I almost didn’t include it in this article, overwhelmingly the phrase “Words of Affirmation” appeared, with a close second of “Quality Time.” In our busy world we can check the gifted-and-done box with one click on Instagram, however the most meaningful gesture seems to be telling—or writing—something that costs literally nothing. Noted.
Let There Be Love
Summing it all up, I hope you had a fun read and now have a little more inspiration and motivation to enjoy this Valentine’s Day. Yes, open doors, send flowers, write notes—if you really want to have your manners down, gentlemen, it’s still cool to stand (or do that slightly-about-to-stand-thing) when a lady gets up from or returns to the table. No, it’s not reserved for just your date. Yes, it is still en vogue regardless of all the gender talk. Both can be relevant.
Whether it’s Self-care Day, Galentine’s, Valentines, or just another day, I hope you enjoy it thoroughly and send a little love in whatever form feels best to someone who deserves it. Valentine’s Day might just be the best holiday to remember ‘tis better to give than to receive.
Happy Love Day 2022, everyone!