Something I read on Valentine’s Day struck a nerve with me. A man, who was happily married, shared his thoughts on this holiday and pretty much said it was a waste of time and effort. His bottom line is that one lovey-dovey day in a year won’t save a relationship. He argued that only through consistent effort can relationships work, so he’s not going out to dinner just because it’s a romantic holiday.
I totally agree that you need to put in the work in a relationship every single day of the year, but why flat-out reject Valentine’s Day? And why are we trying to shame women who have certain expectations of romance during this day? Some of us want this day to be special, and that’s ok.
Where Is This Anti-Valentine’s Day Sentiment Coming from?
This might be controversial, but I think one of the biggest casualties of the sexual revolution has been romance. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely need this movement, and need the kind of transformation it promises. After all, while we’re not really sure how different men and women are, in some aspects these differences (or lack thereof) just don’t matter.
We should be equal when it comes to our rights, how much we get paid, and our abilities to make decisions in our own lives.
But somewhere along the way, we began to view the traditional romance and courtship as outdated and completely wrong. I don’t think they are wrong, and some women do want that kind of love and courtship you see in movies or read in books.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the sale of romance novels. Around 18% of adult fiction sales are romance books. But society mocks this genre and calls it “chick lit” and “bodice rippers.” When in fact, it is a booming industry that makes around 1+ billion in sales a year.
I don’t think this style of love, romance, and courtship is antiquated at all. It’s just that some women want it, and some don’t. But we can’t shame the women who want to be swept off their feet and want a special day for Valentine’s just because we think society has moved past it. Clearly, it did not.
The Growing Fatigue of the Hookup Culture
This confusion about if romance is dead, or whether you might be a bad feminist or bad woman for wanting it partly lead to the rise in hook-up culture, I believe.
I’ve looked for some stats, but because it’s such a private topic, researchers have to rely on self-reporting, which needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It seems around 60% of men and 76% of women ages 15-44 have had six or fewer sexual partners in their lifetimes, and less than 20% had more than one partner in a year.
But if you analyze the hookup culture portrayed in movies and TV shows, these numbers can prove we’re all quite conservative in our love lives!
Women are getting tired of this hyper-sexualized hook-up culture and are becoming more and more ambivalent. We’ve been told that sex is empowering, but many women don’t feel empowered. Quite the opposite.
Most aren’t even having fun. The research of Stanford sociologist Paula England described an “orgasm gap.” Women experience orgasm during hookups only half as often as men. Men perform oral sex only 50% of the time during first-time hookups while women do 80% of the time.
So, is it a surprise that more and more women are looking for more meaningful connections? No, of course not. But somehow, society wants to shame women for it, saying their expectations are too high or that they are setting back the women’s movement years just because they want to wait for a few dates until they sleep with a guy.
And if you take a step back and look at this situation, I think most people would agree this is absolutely ridiculous!
The Difficulties of Dating Today
Dating in 2022 is NOT easy, especially during a global pandemic. A survey conducted by Pew Research found that people were struggling with dating even before this crisis began, for several reasons:
- The fast pace of online dating
- The ghosting phenomenon
- Rise of breadcrumbing where people flirt without putting in much effort to actually move things along
I think you can even say that chivalry is dead, in a way. And as a result, a lot of women will settle for less than what they actually want because society tells them what they want is backward, outdated, and just plain unrealistic.
But even with massive societal changes, for many women and men, sex is still not separate from intimacy and a real relationship with a partner. Human beings are built for connection, not just sexual. Studies have shown that babies and children don’t thrive without contact and touch. We need connections and we don’t outgrow that need when we grow up.
We can’t get what we need just from sex. So it’s okay to want more than casual. It’s okay, and nobody should be shamed for it.
Be honest with yourself about what you want. Do you want casual? Great! Have fun and be happy. Do you want romance and a slower pace? Also great!
Never let cultural expectations decide how to live your life. That’s for you to decide, and you alone. Be your own brand of sexy.