James Genn wrote a post on Times of Israel explaining why he hates Valentine’s Day and Tu B’Av, aka the Jewish holiday of love.
Oh James, give love a chance!
I know, you think you are but let me tell you how I see it.
The way someone pressures you will tell you a lot about them. Dumping someone for not celebrating Tu B’Av is pretty extreme and actually strange. Did your acquaintances have such flimsy relationships that they could end just because of one event? This says more about the relationship, in my opinion, than anything else. If a relationship ends supposedly for something so small then it’s probably best it ended.
On the other hand, if you live in a society where it is accepted to celebrate Tu B’Av and you decide not to celebrate it but you don’t actually communicate anything to your (not-yet-existent) girlfriend ahead of time - specifically that you care about her but don’t believe in celebrating in the popular way, then it is pretty legitimate to expect some slack from her.
Oh, come on… If you do something really lovely for your partner once in a while – on her birthday, your anniversary or randomly just because you feel like being really giving to her – then every other date/meeting after that has to be just as huge?
Generally sensible people will understand that some occasions are big and others are small. And generally sensible people mostly prefer it that way because we don’t want big fancy dates on a regular basis.
But, if it does turn out that she wants you to spend lots of time, energy and money on her all the time, then that is pretty inconsiderate and a pretty good sign that she isn’t the right girl for you.
Also, what about the other way around? Don’t forget that in a good relationship, sometimes you’ll do things for her and sometimes she’ll do things for you. And just wait… it’s a lovely feeling. I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Finally, I think it’s important to remember that not everyone is the same and in general you probably shouldn’t assume you know what others expect, want or need. Talking about it is the best (only?) way to know what someone wants/expects.
As one of your lovely readers mentioned in the comments of your post, you can do something absolutely lovely and loving and touching for your girlfriend without spending a fortune. If you are generally on a tight budget, she would probably be used to having extremely low-key dates (for example, home made dinner at one of your places) and in that case, a slightly fancier date (for example, you set the table ahead of time, give her a bouquet of flowers when she arrives, maybe a chocolate bar with a note) would be very touching for her.
I think it’s actually possible that some day you will decide to give your girlfriend a little something on Tu B’Av even though you loath the day. Maybe you’ll know from talking to her how important it is to her and she knows it’s a principle of yours not to celebrate it and so you decide to compromise and surprise her with something small just to show her that you care about what is important to her.
I know that the idea probably makes you cringe right now but there is something I have heard from someone close to me who works hard on their relationship: A relationship requires very big compromises. In each relationship the compromises will be different but honestly, giving your girlfriend flowers on Tu B’Av sounds tiny compared to the compromises some people make to be with their beloved.
And keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I know from experience that when I can see that someone thought about what I’d really want, I am extremely touched.
It goes both ways
Finally, your whole post centres around you being giving towards her but I just want to reiterate that it’s a two-way street.
Let me tell you a story.
Last week I went on a first date with someone to the wine festival. It was my idea to go to the festival and since he is not a Jerusalemite, I knew that he didn’t realize how expensive it is.
I decided the day of the festival that I didn’t think it was right for him to pay because it was my idea to go there and he didn’t know the price. And so, I bought tickets for both of us ahead of time.
As we were walking to the museum, he asked me if there was an entrance fee and I told him that there was but that I had already bought tickets. He offered to pay me back and I told him that no, it was OK, I had decided to be a true gentleman and I was treating him.
He was so touched and flattered that I did this for him and it made me feel very good being the one to give.
I can tell you also that this act on my part totally got the date started on the right foot. First of all, I didn’t have to stress about who is going to pay, wondering if I should go for my wallet or not. And he actually was convinced from this that I’m a nice person. (Ha! Jokes on him!)
I also got to see that he is an appreciative person which is really basic for me. He was appreciative and he really showed it.
James, I will act like an annoying older sister and say to you that this is what relationships are made of. They are made of giving and taking.
You can hate Valentine’s Day and Tu B’Av as they are celebrated today but don’t miss the point, don’t have unrealistic expectations of your (imaginary) girlfriend and make sure you aren’t being so careful not to celebrate meaningless holidays, that you forget that her opinions and feelings on the matter are just as important as yours are.
James, I know you weren’t saying that you don’t believe in love at all but your piece did feel a little like that and so I decided to go all out here. I hope you don’t mind.