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-- Originally Posted January 30, 2001 --

   The Question From Too Nervous.

    Dear DateGuru:  I always feel so pressured at Valentine's Day to spend a lot of money on my sweet heart. I am a 28 year old male and my girlfriend is 25. Neither of us have ever been married. We both have had a few significant relationships. We have known each other for about 10 months. I think this is going to be the relationship that lasts. But even though we are pretty comfortable in this relationship, I seem to always be feeling like I don't do enough or that I won't really be good enough for her, and she will eventually leave me. Valentine's Day is fun, but I feel too pressured to spend too much money, it seems. I did this at Christmas - spent beyond my budget. What is going on? Signed:  Too Nervous

   The Answer.

    Dear Too Nervous:  Men, at a general level, usually have a couple of things going on about Valentine's Day that are traditionally a bit different than what women have going on. There is a lot of pressure to perform -- be romantic, sweet, etc., and, well, men tend to rebel at the thought of being told what to do on any given day ("I will be sweet when I want to be, don't tell me what to do!"). The cultural programming about men and money comes into play big time at Valentine's Day and men are bombarded with advertisements about what to buy ("men should buy and give, women should receive... oh, really?").

    Often, when we are feeling too guilty, we overreact and go to an opposite extreme -- that is, reality might say we shouldn't spend so much, but our cultural conditioning says we aren't doing enough, so we end up spending too much. Sometimes, finding a balance can be tough.

    At a more personal level, a man can have some old programming about not feeling worthy or valuable enough and then the nervousness and fears about being rejected or not being good enough can be troublesome. The sweetest thing you can do when you are in the midst of being too nervous about something is to talk about it with your sweet heart. "I am feeling nervous about Valentine's Day, I love you a lot, but I worry that I have to do this or that to keep you and that you may leave me if I don't do the right things. Can we talk about that for a bit?" As men, what we think impresses women, even a woman we have known for a long time, can be so wrong. Vulnerability, closeness and intimacy can be true Valentine's gifts -- gifts that money cannot buy.

    I hope that helps. Take care, and thank you for writing!
    Posted by:  Ron Sterling, M.D.  Read our Disclaimer.

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