Valentine’s Day Proposition. [UPDATED]

February 6, 2010 at 9:47 am (By Amba)

(No, no, not that kind of proposition.)

Consider this:

The world is roughly divided into lovers and beloveds.  Those who send valentines, metaphorically and literally, and those who receive them.

Which are you?

Why is this?

UPDATE: Full disclosure:  I wrote this post after seeing my parents.  My mother is so clearly one of the beloved — love just rolls downhill towards her.  She’s irresistibly adorable.  Also temperamental, mercurial, and when she was young, narcissistic.  (She’s actually outgrown it.  Some never do.)  My father once said to me (I was seventeen), “There’s only room for one like that in a family.”  That turned out not to be true:  at least two of my sisters are “beloveds” in the same vein, although perhaps they could not unfold their wings till they got out of her house and into their own families.  I turned out a lover like my father.

Another way to think of it is in terms of gifts.  The ratio of the number of times I have thought of the exact right gift for someone to the number of times anyone has done this for me is, I don’t know, maybe 30 to 1.  This does not make me virtuous.  It makes me pathetic.  (See the comments.)


  1. Charlie (Colorado) said,

    Why does this make me think of schlemiel and schlemazel?

    I think I’m cynical before my coffee.

  2. amba12 said,

    Right on!! Excellent association.

  3. wj said,

    My favorite is still this one.

    There are two kinds of people: those who divide people into two kinds,
    and those who do not.

  4. amba12 said,

    Also highly apropos.

  5. amba12 said,

    But then again, both may be dodges, since few would want to classify themselves in either of these groups.

  6. amba12 said,

    One way, you sound narcissistic; the other, pathetic. So this post may be a dud.

  7. Ruth Anne said,

    I am so pathetic at giving gifts. It is definitely NOT my love language. But every now and then, I sleuth out the right one and that is when it is fun. My love language is probably ‘words of praise/affirmation’ and that is what I can heap on my little ones. I hope the voice they hear running through their minds when they grow up is not critical but loving.

    I don’t know that the world divides into lovers/beloveds as much as it is divided by personality type or primary love languages.

  8. El Pollo Real said,

    You’re an oldest sibling right? I’m not. I think that makes a difference too.

  9. amba12 said,

    Right, El Pollo. Ruth Anne, you’re the 1 out of 30! How can you be pathetic at giving gifts?

    That said, “words of praise/affirmation” are like food . . . like royal jelly.

  10. Ruth Anne said,

    The other person I got the gift ‘right’ was an excellent gift-giver and rarely the recipient of her heart’s desire. Oh, Annie, for most others I totally suck. And Dave is so well-kept that he is in want of nothing! Makes buying for him as futile as Sisyphus’s rock-pushing.

    Perhaps it’s my way of affirming the gift-givers! Listen to what they say and piece it together for the right gift!

    [Better royal jelly than Kentucky jelly.]

  11. amba12 said,

    What’s Kentucky jelly?? (I could Google it, but I’d rather hear it from you. Why do I imagine that involves imagining you blushing?)

  12. Ruth Anne said,

    Think of how to two-letter abbreviate ‘Kentucky’ and the answer will glide right out.

    By the way, did you know ‘Royal jelly’ from your science editrix or from Roald Dahl?

  13. amba12 said,

    ROALD DAHL!!! Bingo!

  14. wj said,

    I think finding exactly the right gift depends on both parties. I always have a terrible time trying to figure out what to give someone (anyone) for a gift. But at the same time, it’s an extremely rare occasion when a gift I get even feels like it was meant for me. Let alone being perfect. I guess that means that, between lovers and beloveds, I have to answer “None of the above.”

    Which, mind you, does not mean my condition is terrible. Just that I’m really bad at gifts — whether coming or going.

  15. Rod said,

    I am among the group that is terrible at choosing gifts, and I’m not particularly keen to get them. It is not that I mind the expense. I hate to shop, even for myself, and the problem is compounded when I’m choosing a gift because I have a hard time visualizing what material things somebody else would want. If my wife makes a detailed list of exactly what she wants, I have no problem getting it for her.

    I think Ruth Anne’s link to the 5 languages of love describes a more complicated reality. A narcissist can be a thoughtful gift giver. A person dedicated to serving others can be awful at selecting gifts. Some of us are good at encouraging others, some at understanding what material things others would enjoy, some at pitching in to help others, some at simply giving time to be with others.

    I also think that we tend to value highest the ways in which we contribute. That’s why we give to others in those ways. So, the person who who is always willing to help and measures contributions by jobs done sees most others as slackers. The thoughtful gift giver will always see the world as thoughtless. The person who understands the value of encouragement may feel discouraged for lack of recognition.

  16. amba12 said,

    That’s an interesting point — we may not have “receptors” for what is actually being given to and done for us in spades, because it’s not what we give.

  17. amba12 said,

    I think my “love language” is listening, which isn’t on the list, but maybe it comes under “quality time.”

  18. Rod said,

    Amba: I think the idea that we have different styles of giving is a good one, but it is obviously more complex than five categories. I have no idea whether you are a good listener, but you are a pretty good reader and responder. Which brings to mind another meaning of the word, “gift.”

    You are also a gifted writer, which means you share your heart. When we say someone with artistic or musical or writing talent is “gifted,” we mean that he or she is the recipient of a gift. Of course, a great composer shares his gift.

    This brings me back to the inability to love authentically: narcissism. These are people who do not fit into any of the five categories, because they think their existence is the gift to everybody else.

  19. amba12 said,

    Which brings me around to the original subject of the post, which wasn’t actually gift-giving. That was maybe an easier subject to discuss.

    Narcissists can exist in relationships, but they are the adored and the other person does the adoring. It’s certainly not black-and-white. What I’m calling “lovers” may have some degree of deficiency of the positive narcissism needed to accept and exchange love, not just bestow it and crave it. (Some may have negative narcissism, a preoccupation with their own deficiencies.) And “beloveds” may have a degree of narcissism that’s merely on the high side of healthy; doesn’t mean they can’t love back.

    Starting to sound way too pseudoscientific. What I had in mind is more impressionistic, a matter of . . . which way the love flows.

  20. El Pollo Real said,

    Just bought my wife a 1 lb box of See’s chocolate candy and each of my kids an 8 oz one too. I do this every year. Now I just have to my mom that card.

    Does that answer the question?

  21. amba12 said,

    Yum! See’s!!! … um, I got distracted; what was the question again?

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