Valentine’s Day - A Guide to Surviving it

I’m assuming all of you are being bombarded (willingly or unwillingly) with advertisements  reminding you that Valentine’s Day is not so quietly creeping up on us. Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The time of year that you’re either happily trying to predict what you’ll receive from your significant other or you’re telling yourself that it’s just another day. 

Of course, Valentine’s Day is a highly commercialized holiday not only in the US but also in other countries, including Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary. Now that I am living back in the US, as soon as I enter any store, I am greeted with Hallmark cards, heart-shaped candies, and lots and lots of bouquet of roses. 

I, for one, am not a fan of Valentine’s Day. I’ve always thought that you don’t need to express your feelings for someone on a specific day, you can certainly do it any day you’d like. So I just don’t get this holiday. However, I’ve decided to write a guide to surviving Valentine’s Day if you’re single or in a relationship. 

If You Are Single

If you’re single on this day, you certainly avoid anything related to Valentine’s Day. You avoid it so much that you get irrationally angry at love. I have been there. But don’t sweat it too much! Here’s a list of things you can do to maximize your single-styled Valentine’s Day! 

  • Say screw it and treat yourself - You know all those couples are going to get each other something nice. So why not say “screw it!’ and buy yourself something you’ve been wanting for a while or even do something you haven’t done in a while. This can be as simple as buying yourself a fancy face mask and wearing it with your amazingly comfortable fuzzy robe. If that’s not your thing, get yourself a massage and invite a friend that’s also spending this time of year alone. 
  • Drink moderately - Be spontaneous and do something out of your character - purchase on a Wednesday night a bottle of wine or whatever alcoholic beverage you enjoy. Again, invite some friends over and have a grand time chatting the night away. Don’t do this if you are going to be all alone, that’s just a bit sad! 
  • Binge watch - As soon as you get home, take a hot bath while listening to your favorite music artists or while you read your favorite or current book. And then once you’re nice and clean, just binge watch whatever TV show you’re currently watching. If you don’t have a TV series you’re obsessing over, then binge watch on your favorite rom-com (romantic comedy, aka “chick-flick”) movies.
  • Buy yourself flowers - If you’re feeling extra confident buy some flowers for yourself and deliver them to your office. Even if you are not getting flowers from a significant other, those flowers (I guarantee) will put a smile on your face. And while you’re at it, why not purchase flowers for someone you admire and love, like your Mom or best friend. 

If You Are In A Relationship

First of all, you’re probably feeling a huge sense of relief because you’re not going to be awkwardly be spending this day alone, but rather with someone who you (hopefully) love. Or perhaps you are freaking out because you still don’t have a gift for your significant other and you’re frantically searching the net for something easy yet romantic but not too cheesy and hopefully cheaper rather than expensive gift idea. Whatever your feelings are about this holiday, I believe it’s safe to say that most women do expect something from their man (Sean, if you’re reading this, I really don’t need anything!).

Anyway, here are some ideas for those that are in a relationship but haven’t bought anything from their significant other. 

  • Simple yet thoughtful- I know most of us already have everything we may need. However, try to remember the little things your significant other may have wanted a while back or may actually need. If you’re a man, you know that purchasing flowers will do. I don’t know any woman that gets upset when flowers are given to her. And women, purchase your husbands/boyfriends/whatever something they like…even if it is their favorite beer bottle or a book they’ve been wanting to read. You don’t need to spend loads of money. Just be creative and remember write a nice letter attached to the gift, it will make it even more special. 
  • Get dressed up - For sure anywhere you’ll go it will be filled with couples and you will probably not find a good restaurant by this point. So why not stay home, cook a nice dinner together and get dressed up for each other! Enjoy each other’s company and drink a glass of wine together. 
  • Do something unusual - This year Valentine’s Day is on hump day (on Wednesday) so why not try something new together and break up the week a bit? Perhaps you’ve never gone bowling with your significant other? Or you’ve both been dying to try out tennis, so why not sign up for lessons on this day and laugh at each other’s lack of ability to hit the ball? 

Whatever you’ll end up doing on Valentine’s Day, try to have fun and remember, there’s always next year!

Modern Love aka Millennial Love

Not sure if other mid-20 year olds are experiencing something similar to me or perhaps my mom is simply desperate for grandchildren. However, it is quite interesting seeing the generational gap between my parents and me (Baby-Boomers and Millennials). Certainly, there are a lot of differences, but there is one that is so significant and obvious that I thought it would be interesting to write about. I wonder if Baby Boomers and Millennials from other countries can relate, specifically from Poland. 

Courtship: Then and Now- Something my mom always gives me grief about is whenever I start dating someone she believes that after two dates that that person and I are “boyfriend & girlfriend.” This is so far fetched nowadays that she simply does not understand. She often tells me that whenever my father and her started dating they considered themselves a couple after only a few dates. They dated for a year, they got engaged and later married. All this happened in a time period of about two years. Nowadays, you date for 2-3 years, get engaged, are engaged for 1-2 years, and then you get married. The difference is quite significant, isn’t?! 

Meeting - Thanks to dating apps and websites finding possible “matches” has increased dramatically. Imagine, during our parents’ times they were able to meet someone only through their group of family and/or friends, at school, or in some event(like a party or bar), that is all. Today, we can simply download an app and you’re able to find people 50 or 100 kilometers away. Or if you pay for the app, you can select the location where you’d like to meet someone. Of course, this can only work if people download such apps, which they do! For the past 5 years, dating websites and apps have moved from something taboo to something common. The stigma that was attached to meeting a complete stranger has evaporated and has become “normal.” This turn of events is great and I am happy about it, however does it make things more complicated? 

  • Pros: What I mean is: our potential partners have increased which means we have more options, and that is fantastic. This has opened doors that our parents’ generations never experienced. Now, you can meet someone that you would have never meet in your circle of friends/family. Your options increase from say 5 potential partners to 15 potential partners or even more if you’re a woman. You can even meet someone while you’re on vacation or vice versa. I mean, the options are limitless! Not only that, but you can be as fastidious as you’d like - you can suddenly pick the perfect man or woman. He/she may be a fan of a soccer team you don’t like, so you can swipe left, because you know there are other options out there that are equally or even more attractive and are fans of your favorite soccer team too.

  • Cons: Yes, we have tons of options, but that makes things a bit more challenging, right? Think about it, imagine going to a grocery store because you need to buy cereal, you get to the cereal aisle and it takes you 15 minutes to decide which cereal you want to purchase. There are just too many options. But if you were to go to a small shop, you’d be able to make that decision in a matter of 3 minutes. Is this what’s happening with my generation? It appears so. We tend to meet quite interesting people, but we are extremely picky and have unrealistic expectations. We want to find someone that fulfills those expectations plus more. We can’t realize that whatever we might have found could, with a little more patience and tolerance, be our perfect life partner. I mean, when do we stop searching for that perfect partner? When does our date actually become our partner? 

Love -  Let’s be realistic, eventually you will find a partner and then what? We have to ask ourselves in all seriousness, “Is this the person I want to spend the rest of my life with?” I am now talking about people in my generation (millennials) that are not married. Finding that worthy partner was, is and always will be difficult. However, my generation, that is unmarried, seems to be exceptionally careful about who they want to spend their lives with. The reason behind this might be because we saw our parents and/or our friends’ parents get a divorce. I have met people that have dated their boyfriend/girlfriend for 10 years and finally make that leap from boyfriend/girlfriend to fiancé/fiancee. Is this too extreme? Are we simply afraid of commitment? Or perhaps is something natural, we live longer so we can afford to take our time picking a partner and/or having babies. Whatever the reason or excuse, this is how it is now. Even if it takes us 10 years to decide. Better late than never, right?! 

I would love to know how it is in other parts of the world. Is this happening also in Poland? Do you see the same trend? Or are Americans just becoming stranger?

Dating - The Pole, The Fin, & The American

So now that I have been single for a while, I have decided to finally start dating. I have to be honest, it has been quite fun yet a bit confusing too.   In this blog post, I want to talk about 3 different nationalities I have dated: Polish, Finnish and Americans. I will write the good, the bad, and the ugly about these 3 nationalities and I hope you guys will find it entertaining. 

The Poles - I moved to Poland back in the summer of 2013 and I had no idea what I signed up for (in the dating scene, at least).  At that time Tinder was pretty popular in the US, but in Poland it still wasn’t. The way I was able to meet men was to go out and do it the old fashion way - looking cute and hoping some guy will strike a conversation with me. Of course, that rarely happened and I actually met guys through friends. 

  • The good: Polish guys are definitely considered gentlemen; they will always open the door for you, let you in the room first, and will fill your glass if it’s half full. I mean, they sound great, don’t they?! 

  • The bad: The thing that disappointed me the most about Polish guys was the fact that a lot of them didn’t want anything serious. They wanted to hang out with me with no strings attached. This can be good for someone that’s looking for such relationships, but I am more of a monogamous-type person….so no thanks!

  • The ugly: Well, I don’t really have anything to say, Polish guys are definitely not terrible. I think I missed out a lot because I was unable to meet people my age (I was 23/24 at that time) that spoke English well. So that’s probably why I never was in a serious relationship with a Polish man. 

The Fins - All right, so this might be a bit biased because I have only dated two Fins. And I must say some people would probably appreciate Fins because they very much see women as their equals, however, if you are a bit more traditional, it may seem rude. I have some stories that Poles will find shocking, Fins will find normal, and Americans will find bizarre. 

  • The good: Something really great about the Fins is that they see women as their equals.  They also tend to be very punctual, which I adore and appreciate. I want to get back to seeing women as equals because it does sound like a dream, but it is not always a walk through the park. I do identify myself as a feminist, but there are times, you gotta be thoughtful and considerate (Finnish guys!!). For me, Finnish men lack this aspect. I’ll explain it in a bit. 

  • The bad: Because Fins see women as equals they tend to (very often) forget that women need help when it comes to certain aspects of life, for example carrying heavy things. Here’s a story: I was dating John (name has been changed), who I met through my co-worker. On this specific date I decided to ride my ex-roommate’s bike (that was way too big for me) because we were moving to a new flat. Anyway, John and I agreed to meet at the train station. And so, there I am, waiting for him and finally he gets off the train and we meet. Since I had dated Polish guys, I immediately assumed that John would offer to take the bike and walk with it, instead he never offered his help and I was stuck - pushing and carrying it up and down the stairs. To this day, I find it surprising that he never did offer to help me, but on hindsight, it makes total sense for a Finn not to even think about asking me if I needed help. Of course, at that time, I let this situation slip because I justified it with “maybe I am being too dramatic.” At the end of the day, we weren’t on the same page and I realized it wasn’t just him, it’s all Fins. 

  • The ugly: Because their society is very rich they are prone to also be quite selfish and this goes with any relationship they have. In Finland, people are proud that they don’t need to take out student loans because education is free, so they don’t need to discuss what they want to study with their parents. They are proud to say that when they grow old they don’t need to rely on their children. This is great but there is a negative side effect to that, which is being too selfish. The Fins don’t think about others, what I mean is that they are not thoughtful or considerate because they are raised to be fully independent. My ex and I (who I hope will not read this blog post) used to get in many bickering arguments regarding this topic - whenever we would cook he would take out one set of utensils, one plate for only himself and he would only pour himself water/juice/whatever. He never thought about me, his partner. I definitely don’t want to blame him because I understand that’s how his culture is. However, no wonder why Fins have one of the highest divorce rates and highest number of suicides within the elderly. 

The American - I should really add an “s” to American because I have gone on a few dates since being back. I have to say, it has been really fun dating men here but that’s because dating apps are so prominent in the US that it enables you to not only meet people that you probably wouldn’t have a chance to meet, but you can also start a conversation before meeting that person. As you know, things in the US are pretty hot when it comes to Politics - trump lovers vs. trump haters (I am a hater in this case). So before I even go on a date, I ask where they stand politically, once I know that, I can decide whether to waste time or not. Not only that, but I can communicate freely with them and that’s really such a refreshing thing to experience once again. 

  • The Good: I have to bring it up again, but being able to communicate freely with no obstacles! It is so rewarding being able to have deep, meaningful conversations on various topics. But you all know that. One of the things that surprised me the most about Americans is that my image of them was completely wrong. For some reason, I thought American men liked to go “dutch” (meaning I pay for my meal and you pay for yours) but to my surprise most Americans don’t do that. The man usually pays, not always, but most of the time. I was also pleasantly surprised with the fact that they open the door for you, like the Poles and are overall considered gentlemen.

  • The Bad: The downside of Americans is that some of them feel pressured into getting married once they’re in their late 20’s, early 30’s. So as soon as they find someone somewhat interesting they immediately believe (after 1 date) you are “wife” material, which for me, it is definitely not the case. There’s the other side of the stick too, you go on dates with guys and you know they are players. They are looking to date around and if they are lucky, get something out of you.

  • The Ugly: So I have nothing to write yet because like I said, I just started dating again. I am assuming the only thing that I would say “ugly” about Americans is that many of them haven’t traveled outside of the US, which is extremely disappointing for me. That means many are narrow minded when it comes to certain topics. But I wouldn’t say that’s an “ugly” aspect of dating an American guy, it is just a disadvantage that can easily be fixed. 

So there we go! That’s all I’ve got. Have you guys experienced something similar to me? What are your experiences with dating guys from different countries? Which nationality is the best? Can’t wait to hear your opinions :)