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Valentine’s; pleasure for women, pressure for men

To some, today is a day like any other. But it is dreaded by men as their love is literally put on a weighing scale by the fairer sex

Betty Muindi @BettyMuindi

It’s Valentine’s Day. Every florist’s eye and mind is set on selling nothing, but red roses for double the price­ to cash in on the lover’s day. Supermarket and other outlets, have not been left out; they, too, are overflowing with heart-shaped chocolates, wines, teddy bears and generic love cards. Social media is also abuzz as women post their desired gifts with a caption; ‘tag your significant other to give them a hint’.

Well, February 14 takes ‘loving’ your other half to a different level. The majority of the responsibility lies with men. With the commercialisation of love -bigger, better, more expensive  gifts are more often the rule rather than the exception.

Jason Mwangala, 30, an IT officer confirms that the past few weeks have been hectic for him as he endlessly thought about how he would impress his girlfriend of six months on their first Valentine’s Day. His worry has mostly been meeting his girlfriend’s gift expectations.

Crazy menu

“I think getting an appropriate gift is one of the hardest parts of a relationship. Maybe it’s because of the guy on a TV commercial who gives his wife a Lexus. I hate that guy!” he mumbles.

He confesses he has had relationships in which girls seemed to be happy with anything, but eventually they would criticise it or not use it at all. “A girl can tell me she doesn’t care about gifts 100 times and I won’t believe her. Especially on a day like this— you must impress her,” he says.

Kevin Mwangi cannot forget three years ago when he took his then girlfriend out for a simple dinner date at a restaurant he had frequented for a while. “I had no idea that the place would be redecorated for Valentine’s Day, and my plan was to have a simple meal for dinner. But when we got there, the place was decked out like a Valentine’s Day Wonderland,” he laughs.

“Everything was pink. The menus were shaped like giant hearts. There was a harp player with angel wings. And they renamed all the food to have a Valentine’s Day theme. So, here I was holding a giant heart in my hand saying stuff to the waitress like, “I will have the ‘Love of My Life’ lamb steak’ and a side of the ‘She’s The One For Me’ garlic mashed potatoes,” he says tears of laughter.

Well, Kevin and Jason’s experiences of Valentine’s Day is a clear pointer that men who are partnered are expected to make a big deal of February 14. Men with sidechics feel the  pressure even more. Who do they treat? Wife? Mpango
? Both? Members of a popular Facebook group, Kilimani Mums and Dads earlier in the week poured out their hearts at prospects of their lovers spending the day with them and ignoring their mistresses while the self-confessed sidechics expressed confidence the married men would prefer them instead.

But one man took the trophy.He revealed he has planned for a romantic meal with his fiance of three years followed by a night of lust with his mpango
. “Last year, I took my side dish out for lunch and then spent the rest of the evening with my fiance. This year, I am still going to do that juggling act,” he wrote. He disclosed he loved his two women the same and did not want to lose either of them.

Make no mistake, Valentine’s Day is big business. The annual “Mastercard Love Index”, an analysis of payment card transactions over a three-year period, last year revealed Valentine’s Day spending in Kenya has risen by 94 per cent since 2014, noting a 163 per cent rise in e-commerce transactions.

Interestingly enough, the Kenyan market showed a slight depreciation in jewellery sales, by about 13 per cent. Kenya bolstered the global trend of a romantic dining experience, as the market noted a 240 per cent increase in restaurant spending, which accounts for 40 per cent of the market’s overall spend during this period.

Cheap gifts

Another survey conducted by IPSOS Synovate showed top of the wish list for women are flowers, clothes, shoes, cards and romantic dinners. They also look forward to chocolate, special lunch, travel out of town; ticket to a Valentine’s event, a bottle of wine, perfumes, lingerie, hand-bags and jewellery.

Sandra Nduta of Gifts Kenya shop, located on Nairobi’s Norwich Union House, says inquiries she has received the past few days indicate the pressure is on both men and women. However, she confirms that men tend to buy or inquire about more expensive gifts than women and are less likely to bargain or ask for a discount.

Women on the other hand, buy less expensive gifts and are more likely to bargain on prices,” explains Nduta, who specialises on photo mounts, wooden panels and forex boards.

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