As a millenial, I often feel like I’m boxed into the "modern working-girl" category ... or at least some category that sets me apart from the stereotype of a demure female. Valentine’s Day, however, plays upon the conventional standards of relationships, and has left me wondering how “modern” we millennial women really feel when it comes to the tradition of love?
I wouldn’t consider myself old-fashioned, but I have to admit, I enjoy Valentine’s Day. January and February can feel awfully bleak after the whirlwind of December holiday parties, and Valentine’s Day is just another excuse to focus energies on something positive and non-work or winter related. I’ve been a fan of the holiday since I was sold on the kindergarten hand-made card exchange (as my friend noted, those were the “golden days”), and my mother always surprised us with cute treats.
Yet, while I enjoy the holiday, I can’t say that I actually care that much about how I celebrate. As a millennial, holidays often feel more like a great way to share my love for friends and family. That's not to say that the love for one’s partner isn’t an important part of Valentine's Day — it still should be — but I’d like to think the romance should be a part of a relationship regardless of Hallmark directing when.
I’ve been curious if I’m alone in these sentiments or if millenials do feel differently about how to celebrate. I decided to do an unofficial survey of fellow millennials reaching out to both women and men, although only the women responded — not surprising, but disappointing.
Interestingly, despite the new face of modern dating, the sentiment amongst progressive and intelligent women is that Valentine’s Day remains traditional. All the women agreed that the men should be in charge of planning. The sentiment did seem a bit deflated though, with comments sprinkled throughout that millennial men often fall short of the expectations to properly date or plan dates, and therefore Valentine’s Day should at least be enough of a nudge for something more “traditional.” The bar for traditional was not even intimidatingly high — cards from significant others were important, and texts for friends were appreciated but not necessary. But no gifts required. Flowers? A unanimous yes. The underlying theme, however, was that traditional was proper, and somewhere along the way, our modern dating scene has lost the value of such courtship.
I'd like to think that respectful dating still exists, even if there are more disappointingly weak text conversations than not — it only takes one success, so failures are expected. What I do observe though, and hope to clarify, is that it appears to be more of a challenge for millennial women to assert desires for traditional courtship without feeling like they are being misunderstood as focusing on serious relationships. As one friend eloquently stated, “I think the only thing that differs is that weird millennial-male phobia of commitment. I don't think it would be a big deal for our grandfathers’ generation to have a valentine and give her chocolates and woo her a bit. Now that would be unheard of.”
So perhaps we all need to shift our thinking away from this looming fear that expressing our affections will either scare someone off or lock us into marriage. Hopefully we can all enjoy the upcoming holiday this year — we are never too old, too millennial, or too young to enjoy hand-made cards and chocolates.