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Relationship Coach Ashley Kelsch Explores Hallmark’s Role in Valentine’s Day

With a birthday on Feb. 14, the dating expert admits to being a sucker for love and romance

If you’re new to the column, it’s imperative that you know one thing about me — my birthday is on Valentine’s Day. Given my line of work, which involves love and relationships combined with 10 years of owning a lingerie and well-being store, people often say, “Of course it is.”

I can’t speak on behalf of all Valentine’s Day babies, but I can say that I think due to some small part of receiving attention and gifts on this day just for being born, I’ve never felt that looming stress of potentially missing out on a romantic night with rose petals and my partner ready to drizzle something edible on my body. This is a different opinion than that of my stepmom, who I later discovered was a person who resented the holiday because the 14th wasn’t Valentine’s Day in my dad’s mind — it was his first born’s birthday.

Lifestyle and relationship coach Ashley Kelsch. Photo by Cristina Fisher.

Being born on Hallmark’s signature day of love reinforced the idea that the 14th wasn’t just my birthday, which needed to be celebrated with appropriate gifts, but it was also a second holiday that needed its own additional gifts. One day. Two celebrations.

It became more expansive when I got older and was in relationships. Why would we reserve one day a year to wear red lingerie and make romantic plans? This should be everyday, regardless of relationship status.

MORE: Ashley Kelsch Takes Life Lessons and Deep Friendships into 2023

Last week, I took it upon myself to send a text to a handful of men I’ve dated, saying, “Friendly reminder… My birthday is in one week. Won’t be mad if you don’t text, but feel free to send dollars via Venmo. Money makes everything OK.” I even threw in a GIF that showed a girl riding a mechanical bull for added charm.

If you don’t know me, you might be thinking, “Whoa.” (Plus all sorts of other stuff, I’m sure.) Let’s just say there was some great follow-up banter and laughs. The thing is, my exes have long known something about me that I wasn’t conscious of until recently.

They knew that I love being showered with gifts and attention. Admittedly, my friends and I are always a bit surprised when it happens because I never ask or prompt anyone for anything, especially if we’ve just met or are newly engaged in conversations. And yet, I did have someone who has watched this happen to me over the years say that I was a taker. I thought I was really good at receiving but, hey, let me try that thought on for a minute.

So, I spent a few days believing I was a taker. You know what, dear reader? I was offended for the people who had given me the gifts. The givers who found so much joy in seeing someone light up when they discovered flowers had been delivered to her doorstep, or love when a haul of YETI coolers and mugs were delivered for her to take on a road-trip or get excited when she heard her name announced on stage in front of tens of thousands of people as he dedicated his next song to her.

People act as if the givers had been manipulated and left without a choice. Do you actually think I was the only one lighting up? You should have seen their faces. I returned to my original belief and doubled down on it. I’m really good at receiving and I absolutely love love and romance.

And to whom do we owe fault? Hallmark. They single-handedly conditioned me to believe that I should love getting considered, courted and spoiled.

For the better part of my life, I listened and believed every advertisement of what Valentine’s Day represented, added that to how special we should feel on our birthday and combined it with a “love and live each day like it’s your only one” attitude.

In short, I am Hallmark 24/7, 365. As you know, this includes the grief and humor section. I’m not mad about it, and neither are the ones who have dated me.

I reposted a screenshot of my text on Instagram, and one of my guy friends responded with, “Does this work? I feel like it would backfire and you’d receive nothing.”

I called him with my answer after a dozen roses arrived from an ex.

MORE: Ashley Kelsch Has High Standards — and Thinks You Should Too

Ashley Kelsch is the former owner of Teddies for Betty’s, a lingerie and well-being boutique that she ran for a decade. Kelsch is also a certified professional dating, relationship and intimacy coach. She works with ambitious women who have everything but their love lives figured out. Follow her on Instagram @ashkelsch and read more of her Tribeza columns here.