Dear 100 Hour Board,
My boyfriend and I have been dating for about four months. And he told me he's already thinking of how we can celebrate Valentine's Day. I've heard that V-Day is a day where the man treats the woman special. Does the guy expect anything on Valentine's Day? Is it common for the girl to get him a gift or something? I know it would be nice for the girl to give a gift, but is it expected?
Valentine’s Day is a holiday where you celebrate the people you love (or, at 4 months, really like). If you feel that way about your boyfriend, then you should get him a gift, or do something special. I firmly believe that relationships should be reciprocal, and that neither party should be more responsible for making the other feel special and loved. So yes, if he’s doing something for you, you should definitely do something for him. I would expect it.
Speaking with extremely limited experience, as I have only had two Valentine's Days with a significant other, I have never expected a gift on Valentine's Day. However, I don't think anyone would ever be upset with receiving a gift, so if you want to be safe, I would get him something. Nothing huge, just a token of affection.
I believe the Western gift-exchange tradition is to try not to expect any gifts from anyone ever (even though you secretly do). It's only Christian to pretend to be surprised, flattered, and insist one "didn't have to" to make the exchange seem less obligatory than it really is. What fun is genuine gift-giving if there is no obligatory gifting to obscure the sentiment? I'm mostly kidding. All gifts are kindness. But they are much sweeter when genuine and freely given. To actually answer your question I think, culturally, yes. It is expected that women and men exchange gifts with their significant other on Valentine's Day.
Maybe this is dorky but, if he's already shared his plans with you, could you maybe talk about it with him? That way, you can understand his expectations and how he views the holiday. This seems like something that's different for every couple and could definitely be personalized based on your relationship. Or, if that feels a little awkward, just do what you're comfortable with. If you want to show him that you care about him, don't worry about what's expected and just use the holiday to show that. If you don't feel interested in exchanging gifts, go with the flow and see what he has in mind for Valentine's Day. It's all up to you!
On a personal level, though, I always thought that Valentine's Day was when both sides of the couple did something special for each other but it could easily vary.