Valentine’s Day is a minefield. Whether you’re single or hooked-up the potential for misery is high because, much like New Year’s Eve, it rarely lives up to its reputation.
For the Single Ladies
1. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that because there won’t be some significant other mailing you a mass-produced cardboard sentiment this year, that you are somehow lacking or unworthy of love. Valentine’s Day was designed specifically to sell greeting cards. (And to make single people miserable.) Does being single on Halloween make you wish you were a zombie? No. See how silly you’re being?
2. Unless you’re going out with a group of friends, stay away from bars. There is a certain breed of predatory guy who lives for February 14. He douses himself with cologne, opens his shirt an extra button and packs a pocket full of terrible pick-up lines. It may sound like it’d be cute to tell your grandchildren you met on Valentine’s day, but most likely the only thing you’ll come home with will take a full course of antibiotics to get rid of.
3. Don’t go into desperation dating overload, trying to scare up a date—any date—just so you won’t be home alone on V-Day.
4. Stay home and sulk if you want, but instead of making yourself miserable with romantic comedies, check out the “War of the Roses” or “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” And whatever you do—don’t eat a pint of ice cream. Nobody should willingly reduce themselves to a cliché. Have some nachos instead.
For the Taken Ladies
1. If your boyfriend forgets what day it is, you have nobody but yourself to blame. Do you know when the World Series is? Probably not. If you want your man to remember something, remind him.
2. Along with the above, if you have big expectations for THE MOST ROMANTIC VALENTINE’S DAY EVER, you should also convey that. Hinting never works with men—whether it’s willful or just obliviousness, I’ve never heard of a heterosexual male who is capable of picking up a subtle hint. Give him restaurant suggestions, remind him that he needs to make a reservation in advance, advise him that you’re getting him a gift (if you are), so he might want to select a little something for you. If you must, resort to PowerPoint and pie charts. It’s not very romantic, but it will get your point across.
3. You are not allowed to get upset if he doesn’t propose. Unless it’s completely spontaneous, V-Day proposals rate way high on the cheese-o-meter and you can hardly blame him for not wanting to be part of a real-life Diamonds R Us commercial.
4. Don’t you dare compare your relationships to other couples. Competitive dating is a loser’s game. That twosome making out at the next table? Chances are, they’re married to other people. Your bigmouth coworker who can’t stop talking about the ginormous rock her FIANCE (say it loud!) bought her? He’s probably compensating for shortcomings in other departments. The more in-your-face the display, the more likely they’re just masking the unhappy truth. Be glad for what you’ve got.