GN Focus | Valentine's Day

The price of passion

We spend more and more each year to celebrate Valentine’s Day. But happiness doesn’t need to be tied to material gifts and experiences, say experts

  • By Chiranti Sengupta | Features Writer
  • Published: 02:00 February 7, 2013
  • GN Focus

  • Image Credit: Corbis

Celebrating relationships and love through weighty words and sunny smiles is no longer enough for couples. From long-stemmed roses, boxes of Swiss chocolates, candy hearts and soft toys to one-of-a-kind moments created at ridiculously high prices by hotels and events organisers, in our day and age, Valentine’s Day is all about how much you can splurge on your partner.

Constant pressure

While a few couples are able to steer clear of equating love with expensive gifts, others feel the social pressure to spend big money as a sign of their affection. Dubai resident Greg Matthew, 20, is among them. The student of business studies tells GN Focus: “For me, Valentine’s Day is just another day in the year, but every year I feel the tremendous pressure to do something spectacular because my girlfriend expects a lot from me. Though I don’t intend to spend much this year, I know that I will eventually give in to the pressure.”

We are now far removed from the idea of celebrating true love and we buy things simply because the day exists, says Dr Melanie Schlatter, Consultant Health Psychologist, Well Woman Clinic. “Knowing that our friends have made plans or are going to fancy restaurants, we often begin to wonder unnecessarily about the direction our relationship is heading in, specially if we are not planning on celebrating [the day] in some form.”

An element of competition also often comes into play. “The social pressure to keep up with the Joneses also contributes to the emphasis on material extravagance,” says Devika Singh, a psychologist at Dubai Herbal and Treatment Center.

For Craig C. D’Silva, 26, a communications consultant at a Dubai-based company, though, Valentine’s Day has never been a day of unusual expectations or pressure. He loves to spend generously to make the day memorable for him and his partner. This year he is willing to spend more than Dh5,000 for a romantic dinner or a getaway. “There are relationships that operate in perfect harmony and for [such couples] Valentine’s Day is just another day to share with each other,” he says. “There are also other relationships where time spent together can often be a constant uphill battle and in those cases there is immense pressure to succeed at least on this day. Additionally, the constant Valentine fever in the air in the weeks leading up to the day doesn’t really help much with easing the pressure.”

Enduring impact

Although gifts and special dinners can contribute to making someone feel special, most couples agree that they do not deem them as the most important elements in a relationship. Shared positive experiences and mutual respect should play a more significant role in establishing the quality and mutual satisfaction in a relationship, suggests Singh. “While there is nothing wrong with treating each other on special occasions, it is far more important to be mindful of your experience as a couple on a daily basis throughout the year. Without this, the gift or romantic dinner has a short-lived impact, or none at all,” she says.

Five cheap date options

- This Valentine’s Day, consider spending a quiet evening with 
your partner, while cruising along the Dubai Creek in a water 
taxi. The minimum fare is Dh50 for a ride across the Creek 
Park. However, you should be prepared to spend more than Dh500 for a two-hour trip around the city — from Al Mamzar 
to Jebel Ali Golf Resort. Call RTA at 800 9090 to make an 
advance booking.

- Considering that the UAE offers some fascinating driving 
experiences, simply head out for a long drive this Valentine’s Day. This is an excellent way to spend some time with your partner without hurting your wallet.

- Rekindle the sparks in your relationship by preparing a meal 
together. A home-made dinner cooked together on a special 
occasion is always more memorable than a night out at 
a restaurant, however expensive.

- Get your skates on and hit the ice rink at the Dubai Mall with your loved one. You can have a lot of fun on ice for as little as Dh55.

- Pack some food and head to the desert for a picnic. It’s still chilly outside, so make the most of it by lighting a bonfire and enjoy a romantic night out under the stars.

— C.S.

GN Focus