Megan*, 24, never really took Valentine’s Day that seriously, but she always had a feeling that her Valentine’s Days with her first love weren’t as great as they could be. Still, she never expected they’d get even worse than that. Megan shares what it was like when Valentine’s Day ruined her relationship once and for all.
Before my current boyfriend, I’d only ever dated one guy. We met when I was 15 and we stayed together pretty much from that point on for the next five years. Jeff* had always been pretty good about Valentine’s Day, but not great. He always came through with some sort of plan for something we could do, but he didn’t follow through on it. One year he’d made dinner and then tried to take me to a hot tub rental spot on Valentine’s Day, but he didn’t know he had to make a reservation, so we ended up not doing anything. Still, I didn’t really care because I knew at least he was kind of trying and I had no idea what I was supposed to expect because we’d only ever dated each other. Each year I just tried to tell myself, “Maybe you’re putting too much pressure on it. Just try not to expect anything,” and go from there.
Two weeks before Valentine’s Day in 2013, Jeff and I had been fighting a lot about my expectations and him not really meeting them, so when that Valentine’s Day rolled around, I tried to do the opposite. I told him, “Let’s not do anything for Valentine’s Day this year. I don’t want to fight with you, I just want to have a nice chill Valentine’s Day with takeout and a movie. That’s it.” I tried to remove all expectations, basically, so he didn’t have to worry about it and neither did I. Much to my surprise, he responded, “No way! It’s Valentine’s Day. Let’s go all out this year and celebrate and make the whole night incredible.” I was shocked.
It was so out of character for someone who usually didn’t think things through and it gave me so much hope because that was what I’d been missing from him in the relationship. Hearing him sound so excited about some over-the-top Valentine’s Day plans made me so happy and I said, “OK! Go for it.”
After that, I immediately started stressing out about what I was going to do for him on Valentine’s Day. If he was insisting on going all out for me, I really wanted to put a lot of work into what I was going to get him and what I could add to our huge plans.
The night of Valentine’s Day, I spent ages getting dressed up, made him dinner, got him a great gift, the works. About a week earlier, I told him I’d take care of all that and he could take care of where we’d go for dessert and anything we did later on. Unfortunately, when he showed up, he looked shocked that I’d put in so much effort and just said, “I didn’t think we were doing Valentine’s Day this year.” It was insane.
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I couldn’t believe he either didn’t remember or had made that promise to me thinking I wouldn’t take it seriously. I still don’t understand how he forgot. Jeff was definitely known for making plans with me and not showing up, but then when I’d call him, he’d tell me he got busy. Granted, he didn’t think to call and tell me that, but he never said he totally forgot. Plus, him saying he wanted to go all out this year meant so much to me and acting like that conversation never happened was heartbreaking.
I tried so hard to salvage the night and just move on, but ultimately I couldn’t do it. We spent most of the night fighting about how he hadn’t brought dessert or made any plans or thought about the day at all. Every time I’d try to remind him what he’d said to me a week ago or two weeks ago, he’d just totally dodge the question so he never had to address the facts. He kept telling me that I expected too much and when I’d tell him that I initially didn’t want to do anything and he’d wanted to go all out, he’d deny it.
In the morning, he told me he’d try to make it up to me and I believed him, but unfortunately, he never did. I knew at that point that I should break up with him, but instead I just kept waiting for him to make up for Valentine’s Day. Finally, in the summer, I realized he was never going to make it up to me. He was never going to be the guy I wanted him to be, so I ended it.
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After that, I was single for about a year and then after I graduated from college, I met my current boyfriend, who is the best guy I’ve ever met and the love of my life. On our first Valentine’s Day together, I made it very clear to him that I hated Valentine’s Day because my ex-boyfriend ruined it for me and I didn’t want to celebrate it. Then about a week before Valentine’s Day, I changed my mind and told him, “I need you to spoil me on Valentine’s Day. I want to celebrate it.” He totally understood and promised to make it special and he really did. He bought Champagne, strawberries, flowers, and took me to a really nice dinner at this Italian restaurant. I was really impressed. I told him to spoil me and he actually did. That was so much better than having a guy who let me get my hopes up and then disappointed me.
Even after having that awesome Valentine’s Day with my current boyfriend, I still get really nervous about the holiday in general because it brings up so many bad memories for me. Someday I really hope to be able to truly not care about having a great Valentine’s Day, but I’m not quite there yet.
By Lane Moore for Cosmopolitan US.