A special holiday is coming up. Maybe it’s Valentine’s Day, or your birthday, or your anniversary.

You’re excited.

You love celebrating special occasions as a couple. This year, you’re dating someone amazing. You think this really might lead somewhere. Maybe this holiday will be the beginning of many more holidays together.

So when he texts you and says, “I’ll be over Friday night—can’t wait to see you!” you wonder what surprise he has in store for you.

You dress in something that makes you feel feminine and beautiful, and you wait for his knock at the door.

Just after 6 o’clock, he arrives.

You open the door with a big smile….

Then you see what’s under his arm.

It’s not what you expected.

It’s a pizza box. And a movie.

You struggle to prevent the disappointment from showing on your face.

What do you say next?

  1. “Babe, grab your jacket. We’re going out!”
  2. “Is that it? Seriously?”
  3. “Do you even remember what day it is today?”
  4. “Uh…. Come on in.”

You’ve watched enough rom coms to know how this scenario was supposed to play out.

He was supposed to show up with a big bunch of flowers, a limo, and dinner reservations at the most exclusive restaurant in town, right?

Okay, maybe not THAT extravagant, but the point is that he was supposed to show how much he loves you. That’s what holidays and celebrations are for. They’re opportunities for grand gestures of love.

So if a guy doesn’t make an effort, does that mean he doesn’t love you?


Holidays are a trip wire for relationships.

Not only do many relationships crash and burn over Valentine’s Day,[1] but divorce lawyers report one of their busiest times in January, right after the Christmas holidays.[2]

Holidays send stress through the roof. Not to mention the pressure of choosing the perfect gift!

Have you ever experienced that stunned feeling after opening a wildly inappropriate gift? What WAS he thinking? Didn’t he realize you don’t like this kind of thing? Didn’t he catch all those hints you were dropping about what you really wanted?

If you’re expecting the romantic celebration of a lifetime and your guy refuses to play along, those unmet expectations can sink your relationship.

Guess he doesn’t care about me, you think, if this is how much our relationship means to him.

It’s Not What He Does—It’s How You Feel about It

Yet research paints a very different picture.

It turns out that the gratitude you feel when your partner does nice things for you matters far more than how grand the gesture was.

When your partner does something for you, whether it’s big or little, what strengthens your relationship is how you feel about it.[3]

If he buys you a diamond necklace and you think he’s buying it to make up for the fight you had, his gesture will fall flat.

But if he brings you a pizza and you think, “He wants to spend this holiday all alone with me snuggled up on the sofa! That’s true love,” then your relationship will grow stronger.

Even better, the more you notice the ways he shows you love in everyday life, the more loved you will feel in the relationship.

So don’t wait until Valentine’s Day to see how much he loves you.

Pay attention to what he’s doing right now.

What thoughtful things does he do for you?

Does he get you a drink so you don’t have to get up? Does he check in on you when you’re not feeling well? Does he go shopping with you even though he hates it?

Then let your heart take in all those ways he shows he cares.

And when a special occasion rolls around, don’t judge him by the way he lives up to (or fails to live up to) your expectations.

Instead of waiting for him to surprise you with a romantic gesture, stand alongside him and co-create the perfect experience together.

Talk to him about how you’d like to celebrate. Ask him what would make him feel happy on this special day. Come up with a plan that makes you both happy.

In the end, celebrations are just celebrations. You already know how much he loves you from how he treats you every day.

[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/227507925_How_do_holidays_influence_relationship_processes_and_outcomes_Examining_the_instigating_and_catalytic_effects_of_Valentine’s_Day

[2] https://healthland.time.com/2013/12/16/how-to-tell-if-your-relationship-will-survive-the-holidays/

[3] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191125121005.htm

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