We’re all more than familiar with the perils of the best-known Valentine’s Day gift-giving clichés: Surprise your better half with a box of chocolates, say, or a plush teddy bear clutching a single red rose on the evening of February 14, and you may find yourself on the receiving end of a less-than-enthusiastic reception come nightfall.
It almost goes without saying: Choosing just the right Valentine’s Day gift is a challenge of colossal proportions. The pressure to get it right is especially intense for men, because—and let’s just be honest here, guys—most of us aren’t terribly skilled when it comes to picking out a gift that’s romantic but not sleazy. Or a gift that’s touching, but not saccharine or cutesy. Or one that’s particularly meaningful, but not too over-the-top.
Of course, it helps immensely if you actually understand the disposition of the woman you’re buying for. Is she the type who’d be genuinely flattered by a heart-shaped box of candy? Or would she prefer a quietly romantic night in that didn’t involve cooking for you or the kids? Those can sometimes be tough questions to answer, even if your Valentine is a woman you’ve been sharing a home and a bed with for years.