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Valentine's Day: Gift-Giving and Game-Playing

02/04/2015 02:02 pm ET | Updated Apr 06, 2015

I know the following statement may fall into the "duh" category but here goes:

You are more likely to get what you want if you actually ask for it.

I know, shocking, right? As Valentine's Day approaches I'm reminded of all the game playing involved with gift giving in romantic relationships. Will he figure out what I want? Will he get it right this time? I'll focus on women here because my experience is that, in general, men don't worry as much about what gifts mean. Can you imagine hearing: "She got me a pair of size large silk boxers -- does that mean she thinks my butt is too big?" "A golf bag, really? She must not love me if she bought me such a practical gift. I really wanted something else. You never listen to me."

As I get older the commercialized holidays seem less and less important. Correction. I like to present the image that they don't matter. Me, a mature woman who is comfortable with who she is doesn't need validation on this arbitrary day defined by jewelry stores and greeting card companies. (Yeah, right.)

Why is Valentine's Day so important to us? Is it really about the gift or is about the relationship? You know how it goes. He asks, "What do you want for your birthday?" You answer, "Nothing, don't worry." And then, he gives you what you said you wanted -- nothing. This is not a hypothetical. This happened with my husband and me. Can you believe he took me at my word? The truth is I am grateful to be with a man who forces me to be honest and clear about what I want. I often advise clients that a good rule for relationships is: I don't take hints, (and neither do they.) I try to practice what I preach. (Let's see how this February 14 goes.)

How is it that we expect people to read our minds. Why do we subject ourselves year in and year out to this game? Why do gifts represent so much, and trigger so many emotions? Why do we seem to feel ashamed for being disappointed? What's wrong with wanting something? Why do we deny that we wanted something and then act irritable and passive aggressive when we don't get it? "What's wrong, honey?" "Nothing," you answer with disdain while thinking, "If I have to tell you then we have bigger problems."

So think about what you want. Ask for it. Be prepared to not get it (from them). And if you still want it, and are able to, get it yourself. If this happens to you year in and year out, remember: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Why are you expecting that this year will be any different. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Once again: You are more likely to get what you want if you actually ask for it.

Are you willing to give up the game?