If you're in a committed relationship, you'll need to observe Valentine's Day in one way or another. The problem is that there are few suitable gifts for the romantic holiday and each one carries with it a certain connotation. Be careful what you choose, because it says a lot about you.
Sure, some people in healthy relationships go above and beyond and think of something really unique and original that their partner will enjoy. The rest of us just have to rely on the sorry old staples and their attendant messages. Here are most of the popular gifts for February 14th and the message that your mate is getting when you deliver it to him or her. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Flowers: If you give your loved one flowers, it means that you did not plan for this day at all. You either picked them up at a bodega on the way home or you called up FTD in a panic last night and paid an exorbitant amount of money to have something delivered on Monday afternoon. Then again, this also tells your lover that you are willing to spend a lot of money to make them happy, which is sweet.
Candy: A big box of chocolate says nothing but, "I don't care what you look like." Either that or "Your body is so out of shape that there is no redemption and you will never be thin again, so you might as well just eat all of these bonbons, because you've given up." Everyone wants to feel attractive and sexy on Valentine's Day, so unless you splurged for two very expensive low-cal organic vegan free-trade truffles that you had shipped in specially from Portland, don't ever give someone chocolate for Valentine's Day.
Romantic Dinner: A wonderful, gender neutral gift that says you care enough about a person that you want to sit next to them under low lighting and talk about yourself and how much you love each other. You're also giving off the message that you care just as much about your own enjoyment as your lover's, but, hey, this is a partnership. If everyone can't be happy, what's the point?
Jewelry: Jewelry says that the giver is rich. For gentlemen who have yet to make a life-long commitment to a woman or those in the initial stages of a relationship, this is a great message to send. But don't get a ring or anything in a ring-sized box. That's setting up a whole different set of expectations that you probably don't want to deal with on Valentine's Day. If you do buy a ring, don't propose on Valentine's Day. It shows a complete lack of originality. A woman wants to remember the very specific day you proposed to her, she doesn't want that lumped in with a holiday that everyone else gets to enjoy. She wants her own special day. For women who want to give their man jewelry—even cufflinks or a tie bar—she probably thinks her man is so macho that he can pull it off. But the guy will think she thinks he's a pansy who wants to wear jewelry. Just don't.
Lingerie: A man who gives a women lingerie for Valentine's Day only cares about himself and his own enjoyment. He is a selfish prick who thinks that his woman's only pleasure in life is giving him pleasure. He also probably makes a lot of money and had his assistant pick it out for him. But he probably also thinks his lady is super hot, which is a small but important consolation.
Anal Sex: You ladies knows that your man is expecting you to put out on Valentine's Day. You don't even have to mess with getting your man chocolates or baubles or even a nice dinner if you're willing to give up the backdoor. Or, if you're saving that to get a trip to Paris or a new car or something, at least do something unexpected, like give your guy a BJ or dress up in a cheerleader uniform or do something in the sack you're not usually willing to do. This means you are the best girlfriend in the whole damn world and you're willing to put your man's pleasure before your own. However, if your man asks for anal, he's a selfish asshole (so to speak), but any man who will wait patiently until you're willing to give it is one worth keeping.
Nothing: No matter how you feel about the holiday philosophically, Valentine's Day is not a gift-optional holiday. You have to get something. Even if you have a talk with your significant other and you decide you're not exchanging gifts, your obligation is not erased. Just get a box of those candy hearts for 99 cents at the pharmacy and put a bow on them. It says you were thinking of him/her, and that's all anyone really wants. So, if you get someone nothing for Valentine's Day, you're just a jerk.