THE AFTERMATH: HOW TO GET OUT OF THE DOGHOUSE

Ahhhh the day after Valentine’s. Hopefully you woke up in a Cupid hangover, with memories of your love-fueled, romantic night still fresh in your mind. But, just in case that’s not how it went down, I’m here to help those who’ve fallen out of their lady’s good graces.

What happened, did you get her the wrong gift? You’re not alone. Fifty three percent of women admit they’d break up with their man over a botched Valentine’s Day present, as a matter of fact. (Um, 53% of superficial, vapid women obviously – who does that?)

Or did you do something that upset her? Didn’t give her the right answer to the “What do you consider me?” question (I told you, never DTR on Valentine’s)? Or you just plain forgot to play her the Songs That Will Woo Her playlist? What, not enough cuddling? I thought we’d been over these things, guys. Have I not taught you anything? No matter, if you spent the night in sofa city, I’m here to turn things around for you.

If you fear you’ll be digging yourself out of a relationship hole for the foreseeable future, you have your choice of 3 courses of action. One is recommended, one is fundamentally discouraging, and one is straight up gangsta – it’s your call. But, if your current address is “Doghouse – Population: You,” you might want to keep reading.

The safest, most mature route is the “Apologize and throw yourself at her mercy” route. This requires that, whatever you did, you just say you’re sorry, it won’t happen again (eh, little white lies) and that you keep trying to smooth things over until her anger subsides. If you feel up to it, you can use lines like, “I know, I should’ve been thinking about your feelings,” or “You’re right, I could’ve handled it another way.” Those are steadfast crowd pleasers.

But let me say this: I only encourage this strategy if what you did WAS genuinely stupid and you think that she has a point. I may not speak for all women here, but I appreciate a man who has a backbone and won’t just “yes” me to death. You’re a man, resignation doesn’t have to be your only option. Stand up for yourself. If your woman is even remotely reasonable she’ll at least hear you out. If you think what you did could be classified as thoughtless, try to put yourself in her shoes. She’s only allowed to hold it against you for a shelf life of a few days, however. Unless it’s really, really bad – in which case you’re on your own, brotha, and the second method might be more for you.

The next one involves buying her affection. That’s right – you heard me – shower her with gifts to earn back her love. I pray to God that most women aren’t responsive to such ploys, but if your woman fits the “She can totally be bought” bill, then you’d know it better than anyone I suppose.

Some key options for the woman who likes shiny things are the following: Jewelry (duh, everyone knows that). But, I-Screwed-Up-Jewelry usually comes with a higher price tag, so perhaps scour Chanel, Louis Vuitton or something more contemporary like Jennifer Meyer jewelry for some Baby-Please-Take-Me-Back baubles. Cartier’s “Love” collection is also recommended, for obvious reasons.

If she’s the quirkier, more whimsical type (read: mildly hipster) you could try something funky, like a bicycle. Jack Spade came out with a REALLY limited edition (they actually only made 1, called the Morton) vintage-inspired bike during the holidays by famed bicycle maker Beloved.

This beauty came with a $3,000 price tag and may have already been snatched up, but Jack Spade also has an ongoing partnership with Landmark Bicycles, to sell restored vintage bikes. A very cool option, if you can swing it.

If she’s a music buff, another solid choice is to locate some hard to find (or just really badass) print of her favorite musician. Galleries like the Morrison Hotel in Soho feature an outstanding collection of fine art music photography. Want a cigarette-smoking Johnny Cash in an LA recording studio, or a Keith Richards black and white from his ’72 tour? From Jay-Z to Jimi Hendrix, they’ve got it all. The downside? This tragically hip gift can run you anywhere from $1,100 to upwards of $60,000, depending on size and artist (insert audible gasp here).

Granted, this is for the man who really, really needs to be forgiven, but smaller (cheaper) prints are available if you’re so inclined. Just remember, though, buying back her affection has to be either especially high end or especially hard to find for it to achieve maximum effect. Even Kobe’s $4 million rock for Vanessa only lasted so long, after all…

Finally, you have the, “I refuse to cave in,” method. If swallowing your pride and apologizing to your woman is less desirable than the hassle of parting ways, you need to consider that, too. If you’re fundamentally opposed because you stand behind your actions and recanting feels like compromising your integrity, that’s an argument I can get behind. But, if you just don’t want to give in because you’re bound by unyielding obstinacy, then you might want to turn the mirror on yourself instead. Holidays, especially Valentine’s Day, can bring out the best – or worst – in people. If you can’t even manage to be happy with each other on that day of all days, perhaps that’s telling you something you need to hear.

And there you have it: the best plan of attack for fixing (or fleeing) your wounded relationship. I can’t tell you which is the best method, but I can tell you that you should choose based on which type of woman is in your life. Or, you can just send it to me and let our audience decide on it, it’d make a great topic for the “Am I Wrong?” feature. I promise, I never use names.

But mostly, if you take nothing else away, hear this: choose your battles. It takes a strong man to admit he’s wrong, but it takes an even stronger woman to know when to let it go, too. Good luck, and may God (and your girl) have mercy on your soul.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

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