Going Stupid In Name of Cupid

Gold Coast Bulletin (Australia)
February 12, 2005 Saturday

Going stupid in name of Cupid

Wanna see grown men turn wide-eyed with dread?

Watch this.

Pssst! Hey guys, did you know Monday is Valentine’s Day?

Nothing unnerves men like a day of intimacy and price tags. Men suffer from an acute fear – amour-aphobia. They see Cupid, they get stupid. Why?

“I feel very bad for men on Valentine’s Day,” says longtime therapist Connie Podesta. “It costs them money. They just want to please women, but women don’t always know what they want.”

So what should couples do?

“Have a very good, open discussion about what you want to do together,” says Ms Podesta, of the Better Life Media counselling network.

“Look, if it were up to men, there would be no Valentine’s Day,” says John Gray, therapist and the author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

The manly version of Valentine’s Day happens a week earlier, says Mr Gray – on testosterone-pumped Super Bowl Sunday. But men understand they’re supposed to do something on February 14, says Mr Gray. So they approach it in a typically male way – as a chore, like taking out the garbage.

“Men want to feel successful,” he said. “That’s what testosterone is all about. Accomplishing a task. They just want her approval.”

But women typically don’t like that rush – especially on a day devoted to emotion.

So a typical Valentine’s Day discussion might go like this:

GUY: (Barging in) What ya wanna do for Valentine’s Day, Babe?

GAL: (Taken aback) Oh! I don’t know. Whatever you want.

GAL: (Thinking to herself) Surprise me! Or let’s sit down and plan a perfect day. Or just do something that sincerely shows how you feel about me.

GUY: (Thinking to himself) This is stupid. Do we have any beer?

The communication breaks down, men feel like they’ve failed, and for many guys Valentine’s Day becomes about as much fun as tax day.

Slow down, fellas, says Mr Gray. You can’t demand to know all of her needs.

“Guys have just got to wait it out a little – ask, discuss, be patient. You know what it’s like when you ask her where she wants to go to dinner. It turns into a 15-minute discussion. She doesn’t want to answer directly because she wants to discuss options and feelings,” he said.

After this moment of sharing (easy, guys) a guy can make a thoughtful, considerate plan. And women love that effort, says Mr Gray. Because that shows he cares – he’s put some thought into it.

For their part, women should respond by giving guys the approval they so badly need, he said.

Couples might have an easier Valentine’s Day if they remember Mr Gray’s formula: “Women like a man with a plan. Men like a woman with a smile.”

Are these characterisations true about everyone? No, says Mr Gray. And even with the most prototypical men and women, these are vague, sweeping stereotypes. But they’re still helpful, because with many couples, one partner is more task-driven and the other is more interested in discussion.

Dr Ava Cadell, a sexologist, says there are last-minute and thoughtful things men can do for their partners. For instance, you could make a video or DVD of yourself sincerely listing all the things you love about your partner.

Why go to the effort?

“If a guy communicates with his lover and is creative and thoughtful, he’s more likely to get lucky on Valentine’s Day,” said Dr Cadell.

Now those are terms a guy can understand.