“Guys, Valentine’s Day is not that complicated — give, and you shall receive.”

The now-famous words from Adriana Lima in Teleflora’s Super Bowl Commercial had guys across America adjusting their pants after her getting-dolled-up routine.

CEOs across America had to adjust their pants, too, but for a completely different reason: They could already feel their wallets getting fatter as men absorbed the not-so-subliminal message.

Do you even know what country Saint Valentine was from? Or that there were many with that same name? Probably not, I didn’t. But thanks to American marketing, you probably know all about buying roses and heart-shaped somethings.

Let’s break down exactly what is going on and some ways to beat it…

Sorry, ladies, you can enjoy, but this rare, one-off post is primarily for the guys!

The Price of Love

So let’s do the traditional, old fashioned Valentine Day math; I’ll give cheapskates the benefit of the doubt and round down for conservative prices.

  • Dozen Roses: $40 – $60 (unless you managed to buy early and hide them in the fridge).
  • Gift: $20 for the cliche teddy bear or box of chocolates. Plan on more if you buy real chocolate rather than the waxy, brown-colored stuff that Hershey’s claims to be chocolate.
  • Dinner: $60 + tip + wine, assuming you go someplace that accepts real reservations so that you don’t wait in the queue for over an hour.
  • Entertainment: $40+ unless you’ve got something more interesting up your sleeve, this usually involves dessert, a comedy club, dancing, or drinks somewhere.

The total cost of a random, commercially-propagated Tuesday night out? Certainly no less than $150, most certainly more.

Koh Lanta Bungalows

For Everyone Who Thinks They Can’t Afford to Travel

The Thailand math? For $150 you can:

Sleep for 15 nights in a bungalow on Koh Lanta where you can see the Andaman Sea from your porch, or do 6 scuba dives, or drink 75 Chang beers with beautiful women from all over the world, or eat 150 plates of delicious pad thai, or…

OK, I’ll stop.

Wine on beach

The Rock-Star Date Night in Thailand:

The typical-Thailand date math? For $150 you and your partner can:

Sleep in a romantic, island bungalow: $10; wake up and spend the day on this dive boat, doing two dives each: $100;  or rent a motorcycle to explore the island for the day: $7; or go snorkeling at sunset: $10; eat in a restaurant with this view: $4; dance until sunrise at a beach party: $20 (for two Thai buckets); go for a moonlight swim under the island stars: free.

You get the point.

In the end, what do you think she will remember more: the pasta dinner at a packed restaurant full of other bored couples, or the sharks the two of you swam with?

Realistic Valentine’s Date Options

So not everyone is lucky enough to have Thailand as an option. But unlike what the retail world would like for you to believe, there are alternatives for a memorable Valentine’s Day date rather than propagating a ridiculous, commercially-driven holiday!

Now, don’t get the wrong idea; I’m not anti-date, and I certainly do believe that you should give to the one that you love. What about…

  • Go Hiking: Exercise produces endorphins, the same opiate-like stuff produced by the pituitary gland during an orgasm. Let’s see roses match that.
  • Get Adrenaline: Adrenaline, is well, adrenaline, and it’s guaranteed to turn your date on more than that teddy bear, no matter how cuddly the Chinese sweat shop made it. The cold weather limits options, but what about indoor rock climbing, an indoor shooting range, try kung fu, try horseback riding, learn Indian tantra, attend a trial tango class, throw up together in a Bikram yoga class, etc… Do something for the first time that gets the blood flowing.
  • Do Something New: Shared knowledge and experiences bind people together long after those roses are thrown out. Share a photo book, learn a magic trick, take some pictures together, try juggling, learn some of a new language, write a poem for her, learn to throw a pizza crust in the air, whatever — get out there and expand your repertoire!
  • Cook Dinner Together: Working on a dinner project together is fun, cheaper, healthier, and much more interactive than shouting across a table in a restaurant packed to capacity. Try to cook something new and strange together. Forget the usual pasta, that’s too easy. Try rolling sushi — your first effort is likely to end in utter failure, but that’s part of the fun.
  • Make Art: Spend that gift money on some basic art supplies. You can both paint the same canvas; doing so requires interaction, rather than zoning out at a play or movie like two stoned zombies. Try painting in the bedroom for a twist — then see what happens when she looks at the artwork days later.

Use your imagination, and follow the age-old mantra: Don’t do what all the other brainwashed smucks are doing.

The problem is that if your girl is attracted to shiny things in the first place, you’re screwed regardless of how much sushi, chocolate, and wine you send her way. Unless you are an heir to the 1%, there will always exist another guy out there with a faster car, nicer clothes, and a fancier job title on thicker business cards.

The conundrum of sexy Adriana’s pay-for-play message is that buying love is cumulative and temporary. Sure, you can go above and beyond for this Valentine’s Day, and it may make her squeal, but next year you’ll have an even deeper hole to dig — assuming that she didn’t upgrade for that guy with a newer BMW than yours.

Instead, consider giving your girl something that the rich douche bags tend to forget: attention, new experiences, time, affection, and good memories.