The Psychology and Morality of Buying Flowers for Your Lover
April 21, 2008 by Paul McKeever
One of the legal assistants at my office complex (not an employee of mine, but one of another lawyer), received a beautiful bouquet of flowers today from her husband. A number of the other women gathered about to view the flowers and congratulate the recipient. One of the other ladies commented “Her husband buys flowers for her all of the time, and we hate her for it” (mild giggles, by many in attendance, followed). The recipient smiled, blushed, and made mild denials that she receives flowers from her husband all that frequently; denials made so mildly as to serve as a confirmation that she does, indeed, receive flowers from her husband frequently. Offered as humility, her smile appeared to me, clearly and rightly, actually to be one of pride.
I know little of the recipient’s code of ethics, or of her husband’s, but the event serves an important lesson and reminder for rational egoists nonetheless. Let us assume, for the purpose, that both the recipient and her husband are rational individuals.
He (the giver) has purchased something which, due to the creative mind and hand of a florist, presents an arrangement of beauty not normally found growing everywhere in nature. His choice is an indicator of his esthetic judgment.
Though he did not design, grow, harvest and arrange the flowers himself, he has purchased something of considerable expense, which is an indicator of his capacity and choice to pursue material wealth in some other way and, thereby, to pursue his own happiness. That expense is evidence of his self-esteem.
He has given no flowers to strangers or enemies. He has given them only to his spouse. The strangers about him have offerred him no value, and he has offerred them none in return. Had he given the same bouquet not only to his spouse, but also to a bum on the street and to the local petty criminal, what would that imply about his evaluation of his spouse? The fact that he denied them such value is evidence that he discriminates between those whom he does not know and those whom he loves; that he values his spouse more than he values such strangers; and that he has given his wife value in partial exchange for – and because of – the value she is to him.
He has had the flowers delivered to the place where she works and where, he knows, others will see that he has given them to her. He has thereby made a public declaration of two things. First he has given those who work with his spouse evidence that he is a man of value. Second, he has given those same people evidence that his spouse, being worthy of such value from such a valuable man, is herself a woman of value. And she, by demonstrating that she values the bouquet, demonstrates that she values the giver, which says as much about her standard of value as it does about the giver’s value.
In short: by buying and sending to his wife at work a well-arranged, beautiful bouquet of flowers, he has raised both himself and his spouse in the estimation of other people. He has demonstrated, conspicuously, his own value and that of his spouse, and that has led others to offer, in exchange, admiration both for himself and for his spouse. In effect he has declared: “Admire this woman because a man you can see to be great considers her to be his equal”.
Though neither his purpose nor a duty, he has also demonstrated man’s capacity for virtue; he has given onlookers hope by demonstrating that happiness is possible to a man of self-esteem. And, provided that the aforementioned evidence of his value and of his spouse’s value is not a forgery; provided that he and she truly are the values, by nature’s standard, that this act suggests they are; he has committed an act of considerable virtue.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to prompt you all with the following: if you deserve it, why not buy some flowers for your lover today?