St. Valentine’s Snippets + #658

The Emperor from Star Wars saying "Be My Pal-Patine." There’s an Awkward Meet & Geek this Thursday at Geek Bar Beta in Chicago. Games! New people!

This guy who wrote into Carolyn Hax sounds FUN and definitely does not remind me at all of someone reading a consumer report trying to find the best smartphone. “What if I find something with great battery life and an intuitive interface, but the color I want is not available?” :flashes Bad Advisor signal in the sky:

And now a question:

Hi Captain!

Any thoughts about surviving St. Valentine’s for a single-and-never-ever-been-on-a-date-much-less-had-a-SO student?

Many thanks! And thank you for the whole site.

all the best,

Hi Oort Cloud!

Use the day to:

  • Han Solo: "I'll be celebrating Valentine's Day Han's style...Solo." Do something nice for yourself.
  • Do something nice for a friend or family member. There are lots of kinds of love, and there are lots of people in your life who might like pancakes or a new book or a card or a mix tape.
  • If you’re feeling down, ask your friends to be nice to you. “I’m feeling a bit blue about Valentine’s Day. Anyone feel like having Palentine’s Day?
  • Do something nice for a stranger – paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line, volunteering somewhere, shoveling sidewalks in your neighborhood.
  • Do you have a crush on someone? Perform this outside their window.*

It’s a perfectly good Saturday, so:

  • Don’t beat yourself up for not following a certain script in your life. If you read the site, you know that the “haven’t had a date or a significant other yet” club is large and adorable.
  • Don’t buy the necklace made from 2 butts stuck together.

Sometimes it feels better to make cutting remarks about how it’s a stupid made-up holiday created by advertising executives and greeting card companies and nurse your fierce proud cynic’s heart. Do what you feel, but try to do it without pooping directly on someone else’s fun, ok?


*This is a joke. Do not play this, or any music, outside someone’s window.

163 thoughts on “St. Valentine’s Snippets + #658

  1. Valentines isn’t about romantic love everywhere. In my country, it’s the Day of Friendship, and definitely a day when you go on long brunches with your best friends and send messages or cards to those close to you but living further away of how much you appreciate their friendship.

      1. My best friend and I started celebrating galentines day after we started watching parks and rec! My brother and I also celebrate anti Valentine’s day by playing the saddest least romantic and most soul defeating music that we can come up with.

      2. Initially I thought you’d written “gelatines day” and I pictured gummi bears raining from the sky. Galentine’s Day also sounds good.

    1. Sounds like we’re in the same country! Whoever imported the holiday here and decided to make it about friendship is a hero.

  2. comments are closed on that other post (which I think is from Ye Darke Ages when I wasn’t yet regularly reading CA), so I have to post this here:

    my SO & I exclusively refer to Jane Seymour’s Kay collabo as “the Open Butts Collection.”

    (more on-topic, I get that Valentine’s Day feels like a different animal when you’re unpartnered–it bummed me out back when I was single–& I also don’t begrudge anyone who gets excited about an excuse to get all mushy &/or engage in red-&-pink festoonment.

    THAT SAID–my personal perspective, & one that has remained intact throughout a long & very happy relationship, is that if you interpret V-Day as a referendum on the status of your love life, you’re doing it wrong.)

        1. Butts! You sit on them!
          Butts! They look nice in pants!
          Butts! They are where key digestive processes find resolution!

          1. I cannot stop laughing at “They are where key digestive processes find resolution!”

            Mostly thanks to a great story from my Pop-pop, who had colon cancer and who had his colon removed as part of the treatment. One day, some army officer inspirational speaker was visiting Pop-pop’s colon cancer survivor’s support group and I guess didn’t realize what kind of group he was speaking to, and told a long anecdotal story that relied heavily on a punchline regarding the resolution of key digestive processes out of butts. When the joke fell flat, the officer looked around defensively and said, “What’s the problem? Everybody has an asshole!”

            To which my Pop-pop answered, “None of us do!”

            idk if that story will be funny to anyone but myself, and it CERTAINLY has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, but hey, that poorly-though-out piece of jewelry from an old post reminded me of my Pop-pop, and that’s not a bad thing.

  3. Don’t forget Cheap Chocolate Sunday! I dunno about you, but I’ve got to get to the grocery store/Walgreens pretty early in the AM, but the pay-off is sweet, sweet Lindt truffles for a fraction of the usual price. Enjoy that part!

    1. Mmmm, National Cheap Chocolate Day. Some of my friends maintain that the Day After Valentine’s is one of the four Candy High Holy Days of the year, right up there with Easter, Halloween and Christmas.

      My husband and I have an explicit agreement, that any candy for Valentine’s Day is to be purchased the day after, because nothing says ‘I love you’, quite like candy *and* fiscal responsibility. ^_^

      1. Did you write the letter our personnel dept sent out encouraging everyone to save money by celebrating the day after, and to talk your significant other into this plan by calculating the exact amount it would save? It’s not that I disagree with the money saving advice, or wouldn’t be perfectly on board, but the way it suggested opening the discussion sounded like the worst possible way to have that discussion for many people

      2. ” nothing says ‘I love you’, quite like candy *and* fiscal responsibility.”

        That is beautiful. =D

        The Candy High Holidays all have something to recommend them. Nov. 1 is the day for tiny candy bars and stuff like runts and sweet-tarts. The day after Easter is for Cadbury eggs and Peeps (which are meh raw but amazing roasted on a campfire!) Feb 15 is the Day of Cheap Chocolate, and Dec. 26 is the Day of Marked-Down Chocolate Gift Sets. I may have thought about this too much.

    2. Discount choco day is great for people who are whatever about the actual holiday. My friend and I use it as an excuse to get together and walk around outside and catch up while store hopping for our fav choco for cheap. We do it at Halloween and Easter too~

    3. Valentine’s Day is my favorite candy holiday. Why? Because I love M&Ms, but I am allergic to blue food coloring. So I buy tons of Valentine’s M&Ms in varying shades of red, pink, and white, and it’s glorious!

    4. All the drugstore around here have started clearing out there Valentine’s candy to make way for Easter candy IMMEDIATELY afterwards, and *not* putting the Valentine’s stuff on discount.


  4. The Valentine’s Days I most enjoyed were the ones where I wasn’t partnered. The partnered ones always seem like they end up being a combination of “feeling obligated to do something” and “wanting to do something but not wanting partner to feel obligated to do something” and/or feeling too symbolic. The ones I liked best were the ones where a friend and I bought a pizza and a big heart-shaped box of chocolate and watched shmoopy movies from our youth (Sixteen Candles, Say Anything, etc.).

    1. Yeah, it’s this weird mix of feeling like you SHOULD do something, but not wanting to buy in to all the Hallmark bullshit, but still feeling the social pressure…

  5. In my household Valentine’s Day is All The Restaurants Have Been Booked For A Month And Have Expensive Set Menus Let’s Order A Pizza And Watch Netflix Day. We don’t even do gifts. This year it’s on a Saturday so we’re probably going to Ikea. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, relationship or no, unless you want it to be a big deal.

    If I’m lucky someone in my office gets really into it and gives everybody chocolate. Windfall chocolate yay!

    Of course Mother’s Day in my family is also Brunch Is Too Busy Let’s Get Dinner Next Week Here’s A Card Day, to give you a perspective on how my family rolls…

    1. This will be the third straight February 14th for which I have been single by choice. I plan to celebrate it as Everybody Else Will Be Sardine-Canning Themselves into Restaurants So I Can Hog All the Netflix Bandwidth Day. Party at my spinster pad for all interested!

  6. Celebrate International QuirkyAlone Day instead! Amazingly, it just so happens to ALSO fall on February 14th! Google for Sasha Cagen’s website for details on this. I’ve organized an event for this in my community; highly recommend. But even just telling other Solos about QA Day brings much cheer to all, and gets happy conversations going.

  7. When I was single, I loved getting together with other single friends and doing something fun. One thing is that all the 2-tops at restaurants will be full with couples, BUT that means often the big tables that seat 6 or 8 are open and you can snag a fun restaurant evening out. You could also rent movies, make fancy cocktails, have a potluck, whatever. The idea being: celebrate the love and friendship that is in your life in whatever way you like. I also loved (and still do!) getting cheap-but-cute kid valentines and giving them out to friends.

  8. Years before I met my SO, a group of friends and I started a tradition of instead celebrating anti-valentine’s day on February 14- and even in the decade we’ve been coupled we keep the tradition alive. We get together with single friends (and obviously couples are welcome as long as they don’t do anything cute and couple-y), we wear pyjamas or other super comfy/ugly clothes, we eat pizza and junk food and things that are too messy for a date, we drink beer or soda or anything that feels right in a solo cup, and we watch movies that have no romantic relationships in them. They’re hard to find (because even the most action-y of action movies often have a token girl/trophy who the hero wins in the end) but not impossible- Alien, True Grit, The Shawshank Redemption, Lawrence of Arabia, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Wizard of Oz, McBain, John Carpenter’s the Thing, 2001, Hot Fuzz, Billy Elliot, Jurassic Park (depending on whether you think the paleontologists were getting it on or not), the original Wrath of Khan (depending on whether you think Spock wanted to bonk the lady Vulcan and/or you have a slash relationship you favor), The Hunt for Red October, and a host of others. It’s a sad thing that the reason many of the movies that do fit into this category do so because they have no women or gay men, but setting that issue aside, there are a fair few good movies to make up a movie night with friends. And we try to view it as a celebration- we’re choosing to have a fun time doing a bunch of things folks who are having fancy (overpriced) nights out don’t get to do that night, and we’re doing it in an environment and with entertainment that isn’t trying to shame us into feeling like that’s a bad choice.

  9. Hey LW. I’m 30, and I’ve never spent Valentine’s Day with anyone either!

    It does annoy me that – in the US, at least – Valentine’s Day seems to be a pretty ‘Single People Need Not Apply’ holiday; you definitely have to be coupled to fulfill our culture’s version of what Valentine’s Day “should” be. For more years than I can say, I’d get super bummed out on Valentine’s Day, and I’d wonder why couples really needed YET ANOTHER reason to celebrate how lucky and couple-y they are. It was super not fun.

    And then last year, I watched all of ‘Parks & Recreation’. The show is hilarious and heartwarming, but my biggest take-away from it was Leslie Knope’s holiday GALentine’s* Day. As Leslie explains it (, it’s the day before Valentine’s Day, and it’s a day for ladies to celebrate their lady friends. It seems so silly that a comedy show on NBC could change a decades-long pattern of February 14th Sad Fests, but it really did! I realized that hey, seriously, I am extremely blessed to have so many different kinds of love in my life: love from my family, friends, pets, co-workers, and broader community. Yeah, I don’t have a partner, but I can still celebrate the awesome relationships I do have. Plus, there’s no reason for me to miss out on my favorite holiday color-scheme — red+pink+white is my all-time favorite color combination!

    So last year, I sent my mother and each of my three sisters a surprise Galentine’s Day bouquet at work on Valentine’s Day. It. Was. AWESOME! None of them were expecting it, and they were all SUPER excited to receive flowers. One of my sisters was going through the aftermath of a break-up, and she was so happy to receive flowers on a day that she was expecting to be a painful reminder of her single status. She texted me and told me how happy and how loved she felt, and I realized that THIS — this affirmation of love for ANYONE you have those feelings for — can be the point of Valentine’s Day.

    This year, I’m planning to send all my family members and friends GAL- or PAL-entine’s Day cards. I’m looking forward to letting people know that I love them, and looking forward to that warm rush *I* get when I am open about my appreciation for the folks in my support networks. Maybe someday I will have a romantic partner to celebrate Valentine’s Day with, but I know that I will ALWAYS make this a day about the numerous people I love, not just my special someone.

    And there’s a bonus to all of this: I found that feeling like I could participate in Valentine’s Day in some way made me a LOT less bitter about the folks celebrating it in a “traditional” couple-y way. Now I can see the fun in the holiday, instead of feeling like it’s a culturally sanctioned way to make me feel ashamed of being single.

    *If you’re a dude or a lady who doesn’t want to exclude her dude-friends & family, you can have PALentine’s Day instead ^_^!

    1. It’s Chocolate For Breakfast Day for me! Granted, I don’t actually eat candy for breakfast generally, because I don’t actually want something that sugary first thing in the morning, but it still holds a warm fuzzy place in my heart from when I was a child and my parents would leave one of those little heart-shaped boxes of chocolate at each kid’s place at the breakfast table. Forget couple-ness, candy for breakfast is where it’s at.

      (I actually am dating someone this year for Valentine’s Day, and it’s the WEIRDEST THING to me. I was never bothered by being single on Valentine’s Day, so now it’s this weird mental shift to think that the standard couple-y stuff even potentially applies. Thankfully my girlfriend and I agree on the general “it’s a weird Hallmark holiday that we don’t care about, but excuses to do nice things are nice, buuuuut let’s maybe do something on the 13th for less crowdedness” approach.

      …But in my heart really it’s still Chocolate For Breakfast Day.)

  10. Find out if someone you know has a VD birthday, and make/send/do something for them that has never had the colors red or pink or anything remotely heartbutt-shaped anywhere near it? Join together in commiseration against Compulsory Days of Specific Sappiness?

    Valentine’s: also sucketh for we folks who are expected to treat other people to romantic events on our one and only birthdays of the year, and who can’t have real birthday parties because romance. Every year. Forever. Bah Humbug.

    1. We have a friend whose birthday is the 13th so we take her out then. Also enjoying the 13th makes the 14th a pretty normal day, no pressure.

    2. I’ve heard of people with Christmas birthdays “switching” to a different day. I think some people just change by a few days, but some people go for a different season entirely. That might work for you! You could pick the birthdate of your favorite author or musician or fictional character, or even have a different birthday every year!

      1. My daughter with the March 17 birthday has decided that she is NOT down with green beer or raucus bad behaviour on her birthday, so she’s transferred all her birthday celebrating to Pi(e) Day. Also, she’s a math major which makes it super lovely for her.

  11. It’s weird, I still associate Valentine’s Day more with childhood than with adulthood (I may be the only one). Making cards at school and handing them around, pink candy, etc. And of course all the commercial stuff. And I’m not into flowers, poetry, or candy hearts on the best of days – that’s just not me at all. Basically I’m one of those people who doesn’t get the appeal and has to be careful not to put it down too much to people who like it.

    So I’ve always kind of felt like that was one of the days I was actually glad to be perpetually single since it means there’s no pressure to join in! I don’t have to justify it by saying how much it doesn’t appeal to me, I don’t get asked what my plans are, people don’t even talk about it much with me.

    It’s kind of great because since I’m single anyway no one one expects me to participate!! :).

    1. I do too, actually. When I think of it, the first things that come to mind are classroom parties, and those boxes of 30 superhero/kitty cat Valentines that you cut out of a big sheet and give to other kids.

    2. Not weird, or at least not alone in it.

      My mom was Big on Valentine’s Day when we were growing up, but as a family holiday – cute stuffed animals, heart shaped pancakes with strawberry sauce, all the hugs ever, etc. It never really made the transition to a romantic/couple-y holiday for me.

      Every couple of years I’ll still get a pack or two of the goofy elementary school valentines and send them to my friends. Because its fun, darn it!

      1. I do that too! Last year it was Snoopy valentines (because put a Peanuts character on a thing and for some reason I NEED THE THING) and this year it’s Nerdfighter valentines for the geekiest of my geeky crowd of friends. I always make sure there’s baked goods and chocolate surprises for everyone and double for any of my friends who have recently uncoupled, too. Being silly and goofy on Valentine’s day helps me slice through my cynicism about the holiday as a commercial enterprise a bit and keeps me from shredding everything pink and red in sight.

      2. Yeah, my parents always gave us cards and gifts for Valentine’s, and there’s definitely a larger consumer base for that, because I see cards for offspring/parents/grandparents along with all the ones for friends and romantic partners at every card display (in fact, the first Valentine’s card I gave my now-fiancé was technically for “Son”, but it was Star Wars and otherwise perfect so I just crossed that word out). In middle school and high school I always celebrated with my friends – we shared candy and homemade treats and just had fun. Sometimes I really miss those packs of Looney Tunes and Hello Kitty and Batman valentines from elementary school.

        Now as someone in a long-term relationship we do do the fancy restaurant thing, but we both really like excellent food and stake out places we’ve been meaning to try pretty far in advance. We use it as one of our two yearly excuses to blow a bunch of money on an excellent foodie evening (the other being our anniversary – we will sometimes go out for a nice dinner for birthdays but prefer to have parties instead, even if fairly low-key ones – it gives me an excuse to cook/bake fancy shit and him an excuse for his once-yearly massive Tunisian-style couscous dinner).

    3. Yup, definitely a little-kid holiday for me too (with vague associations with waffles/French toast.) My childhood was filled with floppy velour dogs holding red hearts (thanks Mom.)

    4. My friends and I actually celebrated it precisely this way one year – everyone went out and bought some candy and those pre-made Valentine’s Day cards, and then we decorated paper bags and went around dropping valentines and candy in everyone else’s bag. It was a hit and we had a great time, and nobody had to feel left out!

      1. yesss, one of my favorite Valentines Day parties as an adult was a replica of the elementary school one. The basic elementary school rule – you have to give a card to everyone – makes for a friendly gathering that doesn’t exclude single folks or people who don’t know many others in the group. Plus…arts n crafts and candy!

      2. That’s a great idea! I’ve thrown Palentine parties off and on since high school, and little-kid Valentines might be a great thing to toss into the mix this year.

        I’m also considering gathering my songwriting friends to try an exercise I made up: buy a bunch of bags of Sweetheart candies, get everyone to draw 10, and give them 20 minutes to write a poem or song that includes the phrases on all 10 candies (even if there are repeats – if you draw 10 “FAX ME” candies, you have to say “Fax me” 10 times). For a bonus round, you do the same thing, but the song can’t be about love.

        I know why people hate it, but I’ve always been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I love showing my friends affection, I love candy and wine, I love terrible puns – what’s not to like?

  12. Oh wow! My question, on CA, for realz! :-)))) Thank you Captain – and thank you wee_ramekin and others – those are all really good suggestions.

    I also just realised I should have been clearer (and my apologies for being confusing; I’m so sorry I really really didn’t mean to mislead!): this student is in fact not me myself I but someone I love very very dearly and whom I want to help get through a day that can be pretty rough in different ways at any point in your life – it’s just that right now I’m looking at it with him in mind, so I’m thinking of the ways in which it’s tough when you’re a non-NT teenager who’s just started uni and is living away from home for the first time.

    I really like the idea of doing something nice or making some friendly little gesture for people you like generally, not necessarily just people you have a crush on or anything (one suggestion was to buy a couple of packs of sherbert lovehearts and just hand them out to anyone he’s on good terms with – i.e. not just the people he might be “supposed” to crush on but any of his coursemates he gets on ok with, as a friendly thing to do (and in groups or whatever, not singly)). It’s nice to have some way of saying (to yourself or to others) that just because you don’t “have somebody” doesn’t mean you have to hide away and pretend you don’t exist until it’s over; that The Day doesn’t have to crush you under its great juggernaut wheels. It’s hard because while there are a fair few friendly acquaintances I think, there aren’t any friends close enough to admit to them about finding the day a sad time and asking for a bit of support – maybe there will be one day, but there’s currently no Team Him or anyone to confide in.

    Me, personally, I totally vote for Palentine’s Day!

    In fact, I’m grateful for that idea for myself too – I’m going to send Palentine’s messages to a couple of friends, so I am. Thank you!

    1. “I really like the idea of doing something nice or making some friendly little gesture for people you like generally, not necessarily just people you have a crush on or anything (one suggestion was to buy a couple of packs of sherbert lovehearts and just hand them out to anyone he’s on good terms with – i.e. not just the people he might be “supposed” to crush on but any of his coursemates he gets on ok with, as a friendly thing to do (and in groups or whatever, not singly)). ”

      I think this is a great idea! Also, if this student feels unsure about putting this idea into practice — maybe his non-NT outlook makes it hard for him to judge whether or not that gesture would be received as welcome or as odd — he can definitely make gestures like this to his family or his friends from high school. I’m sure his mom would love to receive flowers from him on Valentine’s Day, for example, and mailing some cards and/or gifts to friends always goes over well. That might help get him into the spirit of “Hey! This is a holiday for letting people know I care!” without any attendant anxiety that these nice gestures would be misinterpreted.

      1. Thanks for commenting on that, it’s good to know that it sounds like a good idea to someone outside my head too, if you see what I mean 🙂
        Not sure if he’ll go for it, but at least it’s a relatively easy tiny little thing to do – and a friendly little gesture is sort of less of a risk all round, not Big Thing that might fall flat.

        1. I like to make it [url=]Validation Day[/url], where you tell your friends that you appreciate them.

        2. I think offering candy to classmates isn’t too high risk or high pressure, if you do it when there’s a group there and just pass it around it to everyone who wants one and they can all see you’re offering it to everyone and not just to them. People are unlikely to misunderstand that as anything but a small pleasant gesture.

          1. When I was at high school, there was this classmate who would bring cherry-flavoured heart-shaped lollipops to all the girls in the year for Valentine’s Day. I had a bit of a crush with him for other reasons, and I felt delighted that I, the weird one in the class, could ALSO have one lollipop. I didn’t think that the gesture was something special, though. I guess that, if we met and I would mention the lollipops to them, he wouldn’t remember, but I do!

    2. I really like the idea of doing something nice or making some friendly little gesture for people you like generally, not necessarily just people you have a crush on or anything (one suggestion was to buy a couple of packs of sherbert lovehearts and just hand them out to anyone he’s on good terms with – i.e. not just the people he might be “supposed” to crush on but any of his coursemates he gets on ok with, as a friendly thing to do (and in groups or whatever, not singly))

      One of my best friends from college did this every year — she would make dozens of little origami hearts, tape a Hershey’s kiss to each one, and give them out to people on our dorm floor, people in her study groups or smaller classes, the friends she ate lunch with that day — basically anyone she came across until she ran out of hearts. It was kind of the college version of the get-everyone-in-the-class-a-valentine thing we did in elementary school. If you’re giving something to everyone, you don’t have to single anybody out, and it makes it all more friendship-oriented than romance-oriented.

      1. It was kind of the college version of the get-everyone-in-the-class-a-valentine thing we did in elementary school. … you don’t have to single anybody out, and it makes it all more friendship-oriented than romance-oriented.
        Kids here don’t usually do that in primary school, but I see what you mean and yes, that’s exactly the idea – more friendship than romance, absolutely! Fingers crossed. I’m just worried the year group might be all over the romance thing, making it all a bit overwhelming :-\

        1. I started doing that in college, although I made it into a yearly art project of ‘weird valentines’ for my friends/classmates/housemates/etc. It’s an excuse to break out my craft supplies, make art every year, and send the people in my life a little present.

  13. Oops … I think I responded but I’m not quite sure if I’ve managed to post a comment or not; I’m going to wait a bit and see if it goes through or if I’ve managed to mess up somehow (wouldn’t surprise me, I R A Technosaur).

  14. My mom always bought us chocolate or a cute card on Valentines day. Maybe framing it as a holiday to share choco or cinnamon hearts or a card or phonecall etc with family or other appreciated people might be something the LW could consider.

    1. Whoops I thought too long before posting and missed the LW’s comment.

      Yeah, LW, if he does any group stuff like ____ club/team/council, then bringing a pack of something to a meeting, “Like, since it’s valentine’s, I brought candy!” might be nice. But I don’t think he should sweat it if doing that doesn’t feel right to him.

      1. Thank you monologue – it really helps, just knowing that other people think it sounds like an OK thing to do so I feel more confident I’m not suggesting something that would make him look/feel weird.
        Eh, hopefully helping him not sweat it is totally what I’m aiming for 🙂

    1. There’s a guy in the comments who’s replying to every single person who criticizes the guy, and even talks about misandry within about five posts. hoo boy. *runs back to the CA comments section screaming*

      1. Oh the one talking about “sexual market value” with a straight face? SIGH

        The problem, he says, FOR REALZ, is that the OP didn’t ASK A MAN.

        1. My only comfort in those hair-pullingly frustrating comments is the high likelihood that the guy posting all that bullshit probably lives a decidedly miserable life.

        2. “Sexual market value” is a “red pill” term. It’s very sad, used by people who frequent the Red Pill forums, full of misogyny on Reddit. It’s a telling phrase, meaning they’ve imbibed a lot of anti-feminist mythology that they’re only as good as their looks and what they can force women to do. 😦

          1. The whole approach is extremely scary. It also seems comparing themselves to famous men is a popular tactic, ie Clinton in the letter. I don’t really understand though, are they identifying with these figures, is it a sort of wish fulfillment thing, do they think that linking themselves to a famous/powerful man in some way increases their appeal… or maybe it’s a way to gossip about celebrities, which I totally understand, but would probably lose me some points: “-3 SHALLOW!” Anyway it’s usually a pretty bad sign.

      2. I kept reading and there’s a place where he talks about Margaret Sanger’s support of eugenics implying that THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA and oh my god what what what I cannot even flaily disabled person rage

        1. …Usually when MRA types bring that up, it’s as a “gotcha” to feminists, “see, this person who you think did good things also did evil things, therefore you are all dumb/hypocrites etc.”

    2. I actually loved that letter because even though I have been in therapy and I have been reading Captain Awkward almost since its inception and I really would prefer not to admit that I still struggle with the idea of having inherent worth and value that cannot be measured on a tidy numeric scale: I easily fall into that mindset. Like, “I’m a physical 3, a mental 10, a social 7, and an emotional 2, so how good a relationship does that entitle me to? Oh and I have to subtract an extra point for being a fat woman and another point for maybe having a stigmatized mental disorder and another for not wanting children. Ugh that does not leave me enough points to mentally justify attempting a relationship with anyone nice. So maybe I just won’t.”

      We live in nerdland! Many nerds want to be able to optimize their current circumstances and predict their future circumstances. Dating (like many pursuits) requires a bit of science and a bit of art, and it’s easy to mistake the things we can’t control for the things we can. (Thus, the continued success of that arcane tome: the dating manual!)

      But it’s not all “If I lose ten pounds guys will think I’m hot” or “If I angle my shoulders at a 63.4 degree angle from my coffee partner I will appear Suave and confident” or “If I date down in the intelligence department I can date up in the looks department.”

      It’s also things like:

      “If I keep my hopes small, they have a better chance of being fulfilled.”

      “If I am self-aware enough of my failings, I’ll know what keeps other people from loving me.”

      “If I can correctly interpret the events of my past, I will avoid ever being hurt that way again.”

      That guy in the letter sounded kind of awful, I admit, but I have a weird tenderness for people who are asking any variant on: “Life is arbitrary, and I have no control over the things that matter most to me. So how do I get more control?” or its next-door neighbor, “I want [this], but the process of getting to [this] is difficult and has no guarantee of success. Is it going to be worth it?” Just because some people can either avoid the questions or make their peace with those huge “I don’t knows” doesn’t mean they’re easy questions to grapple with. The desire to make the quest for connection simpler, more straightforward, and less painful is a perfectly legitimate one, if impossible in most dimensions.

      1. I feel like the numbers thing is a bit of a red herring, actually. Easy to pick up on, when what really grated on me was that he sounded like the prototypical Nice Nerd Guy ™ saying “those cheerleaders won’t date me because they’re too shallow to look outside their idea of what’s “cool” or “hot,” but I’d never date any of my nerdy friends because ewwwww AMIRITE!?” He acts like all the women on his list are beneath him, including the ones who are specifically *like* him in all ways.

        1. Sure, that might be the right way to read it. The gender of the person saying it matters, of course, but it was so weirdly close to my internal monologue — “you COULD have a relationship, if you were willing to settle, but you don’t have enough value to attract someone really excellent” — that I couldn’t help but sympathize a bit.

          1. I think the problem is more that his definition of really excellent doesn’t leave any room for personalities, for the quality of the relationship itself, or for people genuinely liking each other. I’ve dated people who were prettier, smarter, and/or richer than my husband. I could have maximized at a higher numerical score! But he’s the person I enjoyed spending time with more than anyone I’d ever met, and ultimately that’s what matters. LW might look at us and determine we’re a pair of mediocre “zombie” 6’s based on our external attributes, but our relationship, the part a casual observer can’t see, is a 10.

          2. Whenever I have a variation on the “I’m not worthy of someone awesome” or “I’m only worthy of settling” conversation with someone I am reminded of this small bite of wisdom, the first article of the UNDHR:

            “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

            When your worthiness is something you use to evaluate or explain or justify by comparing it to another person’s, you automatically create a world where our worthiness is a place in a hierarchy. The Great Chain of Being does not exist. We don’t live in a world where self-improvement is a way of climbing the links of the Great Chain to a more worthy place. Just World Dating does not exist. From the other side of that dynamic… why would you want to be in a situation where your partner has calculated your worth? If they’re a person who only deserves to settle, what does that say about you? The chances you are the most [quality] person in the world are slim. We’ve all seen people nicer, meaner, smarter, stupider, more good looking, less good looking cooler, less cool, more unconventional, less unconventional than we are… etc etc… in relationships. That doesn’t really explain anything.

            The unfair answer to “why am I single when others are not?” is “because, sometimes, that is how it is.” The only way you can evaluate a relationship is how it is *for you.* Are they nice to you? Do they make you feel good, challenge, and support you? Are you happy? None of that is about worth. All of it is about the particulars of your dynamic with that person.

            Worthiness is not a relative state where you are more or less worthy than another person, or you define worth in relation to another. Worthiness is, and we are all endowed with it.

          3. I totally get what you’re saying here with this comment. BUT I don’t think that’s quite what this guy is dealing with. I think gender is huge here. Seems like he’s looking outward and finding the blame to lie with the women he could be (bringing himself to be) dating, whereas generally women look within and blame themselves. I got no strong message from his letter about how he feels he doesn’t have enough value.

      2. I totally feel for this comment, but I’m compelled to link to Brene Brown on vulnerability, because she is all about that desire to neatly quantify everything and make it safe, and willing to talk about how that didn’t work for her.

        ” if I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness — that’s what this comes down to, a sense of worthiness — they have a strong sense of love and belonging — and folks who struggle for it, and folks who are always wondering if they’re good enough. There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. And to me, the hard part of the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection, was something that, personally and professionally, I felt like I needed to understand better.”

        1. Just read the transcript. She says some really amazing stuff but I wanted to leave a content warning to other people who might click through; there’s some ObesityEpidemic! (TM) and MedicationIsBad! (TM) talk in there that blindsided me out of nowhere.

      3. The error is thinking there is anything that ENTITLES anyone to a relationship of any sort.
        People and their relationships just don’t work that way. Social bonds are not, in fact, a game to be min-maxed and it hurts everyone involved to try.

        The numbers thing isn’t inherently wrong, it’s just the wrong tool to apply.

        1. I feel like you’re responding to this like I said that I thought the guy’s method was totally awesome and it was definitely a good idea to treat other people like numerical quantities, when what I was saying is that I can understand where a question like this comes from. I would prefer not to share toxic anxiety loops in common with a guy who sounds like a douchebag, but I’m not above admitting that I do.

          It’s shitty and unreflective behavior to present a bunch of cultural constructs (attractiveness scale, dating up/dating down, “sexual market value”) like they are objective truth. And maybe those constructs are literally the whole story — maybe this guy is just parroting a problem that his local MRA message board told him was a problem point for point: “AM – NICE – GUY – CAN’T – GET – HOT – FEMALES – WHY – BITCHES.”

          But because this is the internet, and because I don’t have to actually talk to this guy or deal with his issues in real time, and because the author is dead, and because on any given day we all bring with us a different amount of sensitivity to certain transgressions and different amounts of compassion for certain ways of fucking up, what I’m reading is a frank recounting of an emotional process that a lot of people go through over and over. Even some of us who should know better and who should know all the logical fallacies of conventional thinking about relationships (as embodied by women’s magazines, rom coms, and the comments sections on Youtube videos) and progressive mindsets and arguments against them.

          That lost, frustrated, crappy mindset is the thing I have sympathy/empathy for — of not being sure you’re good enough have what you want (in this case a relationship with an awesome person); not being sure the thing you want even exists (like, maybe all relationships are shitty and the people inside them are slowly being sapped of their will to live and I just can’t see it?); and maybe being not sure if you even know what you want (if the first two are true, maybe this whole business is just not for me. GODDAMMIT WHY DID YOU GET MY HOPES UP WORLD.)

          Everything about this mindset sucks, and yet? I GET IT. I read empowering stuff from CA and Brene Brown and Sara Eckels about how you just have to believe you are worthwhile and how every connection between people is an individual affair that depends on a whole set of complex factors and how attraction is subjective and strange and unpredictable and there is no possible way to know whether you will be some person’s cup of delicious cinnamon tea, and yet I still have to wade through a cultural milieu that is constantly informing me that I ain’t worth shit and I can’t expect men to want me or treat me well because I don’t look like much (because that, as a woman, is my most important quality and if I can’t fix that nothing else matters!), and I have to do it with a brain that will grab onto any possible evidence for me being a failure as a human being. You can think critically and still be stuck under the enormous emotional weight of a shitty culture.

          Even the comment about zombies, though INCREDIBLY assholish, speaks to me — when most of the real-life romantic relationships you see seem to be based on the idea of two people slowly crushing themselves into smaller and smaller boxes, god, it’s hard to not get cynical. You can tell yourself repeatedly that SOMEWHERE THERE ARE RELATIONSHIPS THAT DON’T MAKE THE PEOPLE IN THEM SMALLER AND SHITTIER but if you don’t actually see it/experience it, it’s hard to believe in it. Ideally we’d all pick up and find healthy and dynamic communities filled with people who are fully exploring their entire potential as human beings and partners, but, jobs, sometimes they are hard to find. And family, and regional differences,

          and look, I don’t have money for a therapist right now, so having someone be un-self-aware enough to actually say some of the terrible things that play in my brain in a public forum so someone else can debunk them? Yes good.

  15. Do you have a crush on someone? Perform this outside their window.

    Dunno if this was meant sarcastically, but it sounds kind of creepy to me to just show up unannounced outside someone’s window you have a crush on and start singing to them.

        1. We’ve been singing it all the time because of our drunk elderly neighbor who is always begging his wife to let him in late at night. “HELEN IT’S ME IT’S KENNY I’VE COME HOME”

          1. “HELLEN, if you don’t let me in right now, I’m going to take my shoes off and THROW THEM IN THE LAKE, and I’ll be two steps on the water!”

          2. OMG Thirty years ago, my very first apartment, I had a elderly neighbour who would come home drunk and serenade his wife from the parking area at 2 AM. He always sang “Tangerine”.

  16. I’ve got some friends coming to spend the night and we’re going to cook dinner, play games and watch movie and just generally hang out. Which will help I think on this second VDay of singleness in my adulthood. I will be exceedingly grateful when the engagement commercials stop playing, they sting a little this year.

    And yes, cheap candy day is happiness. So I hope I’ve put the pieces into place that will help me get through it. If not, there may be crying on the forums. And you know what, that would be ok as well. I don’t always have to put a bright face forward.

  17. I’m using it as an opportunity to go sort out where I am on my vaccinations/needed boosters with my doctor, and pick up adult chicken pox vax #2. Nothing says I love you like staying up to date on your shots.

    1. More like “I love everyone who relies on herd immunity for protection!” 😀 (Seriously, thank you for making sure you’re up to date. You rock.)

  18. So for Valentine’s Day with my friends group in college, those of us who weren’t dating anyone would group together, form an “Unrequited Love Posse”, and go out to an awesome restaurant together ^_^

  19. On February 7 2014 my abusive ex finally moved out, so on February 14 I celebrated by inviting a few single friends over for a Disney singalong courtesy of youtube videos. (I also titled the facebook invite “VD Single’s Party: So You Want to Share Your VD With Someone” and had fun coming up with naughty puns in the description.) I’ve been toying with the idea of hosting a Golden Girls or Legend of the Hidden Temple drinking game this year, but I have a cold so I’m probably going to eat chocolate and watch The Raid by myself, which I think is a good use of a Saturday night regardless.

    A friend of mine and I also decided to try to bring back Valentine’s Day cards with superheroes and cartoon characters, like in elementary school when decorate a shoebox and trade cards with the whole class so you had 30+ cards by the end of the day. I’m gonna get a pack at the drugstore and hand them out to friends and acquaintances all weekend. In high school it was also normal to give a little chocolate trinket to friend on V-Day, so I might do that on Half Priced Chocolate and Flowers Day.

  20. Historically, part of my Valentine’s Day celebrations has included getting my mother a little something – a flower, fresh figs, rather more flowers if she was working – and labeling it as being from dad. Everyone knew it was me (except my mother’s co workers) and it therefore achieved the equally desirable goals of pleasing my mother (because she and her feelings have been considered, and she is important) and annoying my father (because it’s a commercial travesty of a celebration).

  21. I’ve definitely been of the “Valentine’s Day is a stupid manufactured holiday for sheep!” philosophy since high school, so I was pretty surprised at how rough Valentine’s Day was for me last year. Recently single, all friends coupled up except my baby brother and my ex, winter fling falling apart in a not spectacular way.

    I ended up working late. It wasn’t really planned, but everyone in my office (all coupled) apparently decided it was a federal holiday and took off at noon. I put on some music, took off my shoes, and opened up one of our bottles of work wine. Spreadsheets have never been so fun. Then I went home and deep cleaned my house with loud music and beer until it was a respectable time to go to bed.

    FWIW, at first I thought of myself as pretty pathetic for being so put out by Valentine’s Day. Like, duh, self, it’s a stupid card holiday and you are way too cool to care. * Puts on shades. * As I was typing this I realized that I didn’t (and don’t) actually care about Valentine’s Day but it put some other distressing points of my life in sharp relief. The guy I was sleeping with was a spectacular jackass, and for me it’s hard to have someone like that in my life even if the sex is good (cut him loose a week or two later). I get lonely on weekends, which seems totally reasonable now but for some reason always took my by surprise then (cuz I’m supposed to be a robot, I guess?). Even thought my LTR had been dead for 3 years before we finally called it, the official end and the fact that my ex got into a serious relationship LITERALLY days later was painful. And so on.

    So, you know, if something is hurts don’t ignore it because you think being hurt by it is dumb or weak. That’s like ignoring a broken arm because you didn’t fall very far, so it’s probably not broken okay? I just can’t move it, or touch it, and also it bends the wrong way and in the middle.

    1. Oh, missed the OP’s clarification above. Anyway, this probably isn’t relevant to the young person OP was writing about specifically, but maybe it will to someone else.

      1. No, it really is! Relevant to him, I mean, as far as I can tell. Because things like this do hurt, and he is very aware that (largely to do with the long tail being waved by a lifetime of non-NT experiences all through school) he finds connecting with people difficult – and that hurts. So it’s not just the day itself, it’s what it throws into relief that bit more than usual.
        Tbh I think the way you personally dealt with it on that particular occasion is pretty damn excellent!

    2. I like your broken arm analogy– I’m struggling with unhappiness right now, for reasons that mostly feel minor (and some why is this bothering me *NOW*), and I think you are right that I shouldn’t just ignore it because I *shouldn’t* feel unhappy.

  22. I love Valentine’s Day! And I’ve never been partnered on that day. Instead of feeling forced to be awkwardly romantic (Google XKCD+Valentine+Dilemma to see an illustration version of my nightmares), I get to focus on how much I appreciate all of the relationships in my life and do something really fun. I love celebrating love! (So long as I’m not expected to gaze into anyone’s eyes over a candle-lit dinner or squeal in excitement after receiving hideous jewelry.)

    In college I always went to The Vagina Monologues with another single friend. A few years back, my friend and I made the most disturbing and inappropriate homemade valentines possible using photos cut-out from magazines. (They were too creepy to give to anyone, but we had a blast making them.) Last year I ordered a enough BBQ take-out to feed 3 people and watched Troll Hunter (highly recommended!) with a neighbor. I was tragically forced to share some of the sweet potato fries, but it was an otherwise perfect night. Some amount of booze may have been involved.

    I feel like the world is full of single people who are looking for something to do that night, so it’s a great time to do something you normally wouldn’t – and really easy to rope people into your plan. It’s a night you can get a free pass from societal expectations and can do whatever the hell you want with your time. There is nothing – including sitting at home by yourself watching Bridget Jones diaries while crying into your Rocky Road ice cream – that is an uncool thing to do on Valentine’s Day. Although I generally don’t advocate for single people sitting at home crying or binge eating, maybe this is a good time to honor your feelings surrounding dating and just let yourself be sad/disappointed/angry/whatever. Sometimes it’s good to be brave and fierce and sometimes you just need some time to grieve and accept your feelings which might be: “I’m am not so happy about this thing and that’s okay.” If you’re crafty, check here: I also recommend making special valentine’s day snacks. Potato chips dipped in chocolate are both delicious and easy to make. (Of course, if you are part of a couple, you don’t get the night off. Then you have to have the most romantic night ever. If he didn’t go to Jared’s, he’s probably sleeping with your sister. The commercials don’t specify how this works if there’s no man in your relationship – you’ll just have to figure it out without the guidance of national retailers. But, if it’s not the most magical night ever, your relationship is clearly doomed forever. No pressure! I’m seriously in awe of my partners in relationships that make it through the holiday without stapling their hand to their face. Could we maybe set-up an open thread for people with partners talking about their plans for the day? I think it would be really sweet to hear about people celebrating their relationships and informative to hear their ideas on navigating the dilemma.)

    So, muster up all the warm fuzzy feelings you can for everyone from your sister to the person at the corner store. Tell somebody who’s important to you how much you appreciate them. And then do whatever the hell you damn please. The biggest upside to being single is being able to do what you want without compromise or coordination with another person. (Technically you can do this while dating as well, but I’m pretty sure it makes you an selfish asshole.) There’s a special freedom to be who are without apology while single. You don’t have to consider the impact your actions will have on a significant other or consider how your actions will shape their opinion of you. While people can and do trade these freedoms for the benefits of being partnered, I think it’s worth savoring them while you can. See also: relaxed grooming standards, being able to fart/shit freely, and being able to eat crackers in bed (or having a bed that is crumb-free, if that’s your preference).

    1. This is exactly how I feel about Valentine’s Day!! Thank you so much for writing this comment, it bums me out so severely when people crap on it. I have never had a partner on Valentine’s Day, and I haven’t even been in a relationship for over a decade. But I still love it so much, I love celebrating love in all its forms, I love setting aside a special day just for that. Being dead has a holiday, so why not being in love? All your previous V-days you described sound so awesome, I really want to try some of them for myself, especially making creepy valentines. On some of my previous V-days I’ve taken a group of my friends to a fancy dinner, I’ve bought myself drugstore heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, I’ve handed out Spongebob valentines with heart boxers over my pants, whatever I thought might be fun and celebrate in an easygoing and cheerful way. Overall I think it’s one of the more beautiful things we can celebrate and I really enjoy trying my best to express my love through it. Anyway thanks for giving me a much needed bump of optimism ❤

  23. I want to thank you for the last bit about not pooping on anyone else’s fun. Valentine’s is special for me. All my previous relationships had been of the “How dare you ask for anything from me? You needy loser” variety. I had started dating my now-husband in a January and he was sweet, kind, attentive. I still didn’t expect anything for Valentine’s because why would anyone go to that sort of effort to make me feel good? It was a stupid commercial corporate holiday that only stupid babies got excited about and asking for something special would make me scum. I hadn’t even mentioned anything I’d like other than a phone call. (Long distance)

    Valentine’s came and a dozen multicolored roses showed up at my door with a nice note. I ended up sitting down beside the delivery box and crying because it was the first time someone had done something like that for me.

    So it’s hard on me when all my social media feeds start filling with Singles Awareness and how greedy and soulless it is and how if a couple REALLY loved each other they wouldn’t need a special day for it, they’d be too busy loving each other the rest of the time to even notice a holiday, and how stupid it is to think it’s something worth celebrating and eww all those gross couples shoving their gross breeder behavior in everyone’s faces.

    So… yeah. Being single positive is amazing and platonic friendship positive is awesome but publicly shaming other people in the process (including single people who really would like to do some of that silly sappy stuff) starts getting into uncomfortable territory for me. In private? Be as cynical and irritated at it as you want! It hurts no one and if it helps that’s awesome.

    1. That story about the roses is so sweet, that is absolutely the same thing I would do in that situation. I’m with you all the way, all that negativity around Valentine’s Day really bums me out. Guess we just have to roll up our sleeves and positive the pants off of cynicism.

    2. I usually don’t feel much of anything one way or the other about Valentine’s Day, but this story has melted me. It’s a very sweet and genuinely important story!

    3. That’s a really touching story. I’m glad you and your husband found each other and make each other happy. 🙂
      Valentine’s Day can be such a minefield. I understand the side that sees it as commercialized, pressuring, heteronormative bullshit; I also don’t think people should be judged for what cultural touchstones they find important and worth celebrating. (See also: Christmas.) In the interests of moderation, I try to think of it as a holiday celebrated by a religion I don’t belong to – not personally significant to me, but hugely important to some people.

    4. Yeah, we all have different experiences and associations with different holidays, and hopefully we can respect our own AND other people’s feelings about them, even when those feelings are totally different. I don’t think we have to choose if it’s “an important holiday” or “a stupid holiday” – it means different things to different people, like all holidays. It’s not like there’s an objective ‘truth’, as it’s all about subjective experiences! I’ve had conversations with people who didn’t like Christmas and to whom it felt artificial and full of pressure, which is so foreign from my own experience of it. So for me Valentine’s is, when I do remember about it, something I perceive as a day when the pressure to be ‘girly’ is stronger than ever and the feeling that ‘you’re not ‘feminine’ if you don’t like x y and z’ feels stronger than ever. But I know that’s not some sort of universal human experience.

      It’s all kind of different sides of the same coin, I think. Honouring your own dislike of something goes hand in hand with honouring someone else’s valuing it. Both are about respecting individual people and how they feel.

      1. “It’s not like there’s an objective ‘truth’, as it’s all about subjective experiences!”

        My ex never wanted to do anything on VDay because “It’s a made up holiday,” to which I would say, “ALL holidays are made up. That’s how culture WORKS.” All holidays are figments of our collective imaginations, as is every other social experience that we hold dear, and that doesn’t make them any less meaningful. It would be nice if we took time each day to be grateful to our mothers/fathers/administrative professionals but we don’t, so it’s nice to make an extra special effort a couple times a year. By the same logic, I don’t see what’s wrong with expressing a little extra appreciation for our loved one(s) once a year. Yes, it’s over-commercialized and schmaltzy, but so is every other holiday. Yes, it’s heteronormative and materialistic, but so is every other expression of romantic love in mainstream US culture. (I’m being US-centric for a minute because not all cultures practice V-Day and those that do may practice it differently, as we’ve seen upthread) That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to articulate and appreciate a healthier form of love.

        …I may also be on a bit of a bell hooks-inspired rant about love and culture and expression. #takebackvday?

        1. Yes, after being married to an “all holidays are made up so we shouldn’t celebrate them, or anything” person, I’ve come to believe it was just an excuse for not doing anything special for me, ever, but making it sound like a high ethical principle. Anyone I meet like that now, I run in the opposite direction. I’m not ever going to negotiate again with someone over whether I get a present on my birthday or something sweet on Valentine’s Day. I like to give presents, and I want presents!

      2. I have total respect for people having different feelings on holidays. I have a lot of complex emotions about Mother’s Day (my mom was very much a Darth, then passed away ON Mother’s Day itself)

        So when the flood of “I think moms are the best people ever and 98% of people won’t reblog this because they’re chicken but I’m one of the proud 2% who will! Are you?” social media posts come out, I have that horrible urge to rain all over their parades. But they’re allowed to enjoy it, and I will keep my ranting about it being greeting card holiday made of butts for butts to close friends who understand.

        And plus, on Valentine’s, I will admit to having a horrible weakness for the little kid’s valentines. There are three HTTYD 2 sets this year, three! I have to choose between pencils, stickers, or lenticular cards. It’s cruel.

        1. This is only tangentially related, but oh ye gods do I hate those blackmail chain-statuses that go around facebook and tumblr.

      1. I’m in a hugely better place now, and a lot of it is due to him. Not for a True Love Will Fix things reason, but because he was the first real member of my Team You and encouraged me to build a good team of others. And having people who help build me up instead of constantly tearing me down is an amazing change.

        For Valentine’s now we usually make a delicious dinner together and do low key things we both enjoy, which isn’t hugely different from our normal life but we both really enjoy it, and it lets us save up energy for Half Price Candy Day.

    5. Oh, friend. I HEAR YOU. In less blatant ways. But pretty much the same. It’s okay to want things! It’s okay to like flowers! I am not dating anyone ever again who thinks I am a jaded materialist for liking tokens of affection. It feels terrible.

      1. I love flowers. I don’t buy them so much this time of year because they aren’t growing locally, but come spring and summer, I am all about fresh cut flowers, damn the expense. They make my house look and feel nice, and they make *me* feel nice! 🙂

  24. When I was in college, Valentines day fell as part of a weekend for the first three years, and I went home to avoid it, while some of my friends celebrated Single Awareness Day in the cafeteria. However, I think CA’s advice is much better.

    Also, nothing wrong with never having been in a relationship. In high school, I felt like I was the only person who had never had a boyfriend, but in college I met lots of other people who had never dated anyone. I’m sure there will be lots of other people who have nothing to do on the 14th and are looking for something to do, so seek those people out!

    Yay for friends! Yay for chocolate!

    1. in college I met lots of other people who had never dated anyone
      I bet this is also true of the student here – he just doesn’t know it! He doesn’t really know how to talk to people in the kinds of ways that you end up sharing a bit of info about yourself (he kind of mostly only knows how to talk about course-related stuff, which, fine, they’re all doing this course together and it’s one you probably only do at all if you’re pretty passionate about it – so people do care about that stuff – but it’s still a bit of a specific focus!).
      I do agree with you, though – there will be plenty of people around who aren’t doing anything couple-y! It would be perfect to hang out with a few others who are in a similar-ish sort of boat.

  25. Valentines Day could be a fun day to do stuff that’s not explicitly couple-y – think of all the venues that will have something going on on Saturday that aren’t “romantic venues.” E.g., the zoo, bowling, museums, comedy shows, cheap or neighborhoody bars/restaurants. My plan is to go out to dinner with my sweetie, but at a very non-romantic local bar.

    There are lots of places to go out where you might run into couples, but not “THIS DAY IS SO SPECIAL, LET US SPEND GODAWFUL AMOUNTS OF MONEY TO MAKE SURE IT IS PERFECT” couples. Board games at the coffee shop with friends or seeing a concert could be a fun way to get out and do stuff without being overwhelmed.

  26. Also, LW, if you and Single Friend make plans to hang out on Valentines Day, I suggest inviting couple-friends along with something like “so, if you need some totally no-pressure platonic-friend plans, we’ll be at ___ doing ____.” I bet Single Friend would love to see that the holiday doesn’t mean that couples vanish into their own little world and abandon their less fortunate acquaintances. This was something that definitely bothered me as a single student – like, I don’t *want* to be bitter, and I want to enjoy the holiday, but it’s hard if half my friends have basically disappeared.

    (Nothing against couples who do want to enjoy the day with just the two of them, but as you can see from this comment thread there are plenty who enjoy friend company!)

    1. Ah, I would totally hang out with him – if I thought for one second it would help … but. Um, there is a but. Part of which is, he is away at uni, as in, not here (though it’s not all that far away, as it happens) and part of which is … we’re not friends, not exactly. We’re family. And not the same generation. I would basically be about the least cool person in the known universe and beyond for this purpose! Which is why I want to try and offer support and hopefully useful advice, but without horning in as Older Sensible Person (ha!) and actually making plans for him – rather, I’m aiming to try to be supportive to his making plans of his own.

      Which is why it’s so great to see everybody’s ideas and comments – and I have to say I particularly like yours; I so agree that it doesn’t have to be/shouldn’t be about Couples!!!!! vs Not-Couples!!!! (like you say, of course some people do want to do that – and that’s absolutely fine – and the nice thing is that not everybody has to)

  27. I am told that all of Daria is on Netflix now. That + wine may just be my weekend.

    I love the “paying for the person behind you” idea. I was driving a really long way alone for Christmas last year, and the drive-through at the Starbucks I stopped at was doing that. I think I was #46 in that chain. It made me feel wonderful about humanity.

    Also, someone around here has been putting up post-it notes with sweet and empowering messages on them all over campus. The one in the bathroom nearest my office says “Don’t be afraid to fly solo – those who do have the strongest wings!”

    1. That’s another form of societal pressure I hate. One, because it’s being forced on you by a huge for profit corporation, Starbucks. Personally, i’d say, “aw, that’s lovely for the person in front of me to have paid for me. But no, I am not going to pay for the person behind me, thanks.” I don’t care if it makes me seem like a grinch. Starbucks isn’t giving anything away for free and neither do I. It’s not like the person behind me is homeless. They’re in a car and ordering a latte for crying out loud.

      I’d rather save the money someone ‘donated’ to me for my free latte and give it to a kid on the street. Did you know we have over 650,000 homeless LGBTQ youth in America? In part because the “It gets better” movement inspired them to come out before age 18, their parents either kicked them out or ‘invited them’ to leave, and now they are literally homeless. There is little to no shelter space for those kids.

      I get angry when I see this sort of societal pressure while 6 LGBTQ kids a day die on the streets. (This stat comes from the Rolling Stone article published last year.)

      I would suggest that if you are feeling like you need to spread some love on Valentine’s day, btw, head to an area where you know the homeless congregate and drop off things like: warm socks. Tampons and pads to the homeless women. Granola bars. Condoms. (yes, because even the homeless have sex.) Make a goodie bag and drop it off. Or volunteer at a food pantry. Studies have been shown that doing something nice for others does a lot in your own brain for yourself.

      1. Jane, you are in no way obligated to participate in any kind of giving that you don’t want to, and I understand your cynicism. I also think that your suggestion to donate things to teens in need is a good one (especially tampons. Good lord, period products are expensive).

        But Neuroturtle isn’t doing anything wrong by enjoying the act of kindness sent their way, or in relating a personal experience that made them feel good once upon a time. Your comment comes across as shaming Neuroturtle for that, and it’s not appropriate here. Thank you.

        1. I am in no way shaming anyone for doing anything. My comment that I dislike societal pressure to participate in corporate sponsored acts of charity doesn’t reflect on her, it reflects on me, and it’s a little bothering to me that you feel the need to call me out for what I choose to participate in.

          My suggestion remains that, mine and mine alone: a “here’s something else you can try, which has worked for me in the past, especially since I have had the experience of being a LGBTQ homeless youth in my past.”

          I dislike your very much reading inference into my personal experience and being patronizing based on that. Just because someone likes something does not imply the person next to you needs to like it. It also doesn’t mean that the person who originally liked it is bad for liking it! Nor *did I say that.* (Check my comment if you think I did. I just said I personally did not like it.

          1. This thread has an ethos of “don’t yuck another person’s yum.” If your response had been to the OP instead of directly to Neuroturtle, it wouldn’t have come off as patronizing (speaking of patronizing). I don’t want to discount your experiences or preferences in giving or the issues of homeless youth, but please come back again another thread, another day.

    2. This reminds me of the guy who made his Starbucks gift card public and was all, “Have a cup of coffee on me!” Some people actually put money on the card so more people could use it.

  28. My husband and I don’t do much for V Day, sometimes we cook a nice dinner together. So this weekend we’re babysitting for our wonderful neighbors so they can go out, or stay in, or have some adult time.

    I used to work with a woman whose marriage ended badly, and she had difficulty finding a new guy to start dating. She would bemoan the lack of flowers/candy/cards that she really missed on Valentine’s Day. Well, and the lack of romance in her life in general. So I would sometimes send her flowers or leave a card and a little something on her desk with an over-the-top romantic message. Like: “Dearest, darlingest, most lovely Lauren- You are my everything. I yearn for you tragically, – Rattakin.” She loved it, and I think it helped a little.

    Also – best Valentine’s gift I’ve ever received: new tires!

  29. Further ideas from the single side: one year, a bunch of friends and I watched “The Godfather” on V-day, as it felt properly anti-establishment for the day (one woman who was in a new relationship appreciated the excuse to NOT suffer through the pressure of celebrating V-day with her new SO). This year I would probably celebrate Velociraptor Day (because JURASSIC WORLD COMES OUT THIS YEAR OMG), except being on a Saturday I already have my fiber arts guild meeting + dance class, and a friend is throwing a “Galentine’s Day” party. So, basically, I’m spending the day with lovely friends. It’s a good way to go 😀

  30. I once threw a Halloween party on Valentine’s day, and encouraged people to dress up in Halloween costumes and come with or without dates. It was great! There was a mix of single people and couples, and it had the flavour of a group of friends bonding, rather than couple time + hangers-on.

  31. My tradition for Valentine’s Day has been a fun cooking project, because I love playing in the kitchen and love eating interesting things. Some of those projects, I’ve undertaken by myself. (An easy chocolate ricotta pudding eaten while reading a book of short stories? Yes, please! I can eat pudding for dinner, because I’m an adult, and who’s going to say boo?) Some of them, I’ve cooked with fellow singles who wanted to pool their time and money toward something mutually agreeable and festive. (Pumpkin coconut curry with mojitos and American Idol? Yes, please!) Some of them, I’ve cooked with a partner. (Fennel flan, you are time-consuming and yet worth it!)

    Even the “failures”– the passion fruit mousse that didn’t set– have been fun and memorable.

    (There is also a sad version, in which I see the break-up that is coming a few days later, and try to cook all Then Beloved’s favorite things, even the things I don’t especially like to eat myself, like the Green Tea Ice Cream of Desperation, because I don’t want that break-up to happen. That was also memorable, though not fun.)

    tl;dr: Consider figuring out what feels like love and self-care for you, and find a way to incorporate that into your holiday, whether you are by yourself or not.

    1. The Green Tea Ice Cream of Desperation oh no, I’ve been there before and it’s no fun. Solidarity.

  32. Valentine’s Day for me is just for letting my friends know how awesome they are. Sometimes this is a phone call and sometimes it’s baked goods and sometimes it’s just a hug.

    February 15 is the day I go discount chocolate shopping, or as I like to think of it, the day I become a jolly heartless pirate trawling love’s wreckage for booty. Just putting that out there for anyone who needs a little gallows humor when buying frilly satin boxes of candy.

  33. When I’ve been single on Valentine’s Day I’ve taken myself out to dinner, sometimes drinking sometimes not, and read a book.

    But I think MAKING V day cards and giving them to the people I love is a better idea

  34. I am very happy to have Serious Work Plans this Valentine’s Day (yes, on a weekend, and no, it’s not actually bad at all) so that I won’t have any time to focus on my current unpartnered status. Most years, I have to work a lot harder to ignore the hoopla.

  35. If this is being done in your area, why not join a “free hugs” group? (I’ve seen this being one on Valentine’s day on the streets/ public places on several occasions. I love how this is the kind of thing that can have potential appeal for single people/ people in a relationship celebrating Valentine’s Day/ people in a relationship who are not that fussed.

    I have kind of the opposite problem: I am in a relationship and I love love love Valentine’s Day. I’m also on a budget, so I’m relying on discount vouchers a lot; so I’ve been hunting Groupons for the past month or so. The first things that ALWAYS seem to be popping up first are some combination of “Anti- Valentine’s Day parties”, “Speed dating events for singles” and “Anti-Valentine’s Day Parties for Singles”; which kind of puts me down a bit.

    Tip for couples who are celebrating though (and single people who like music/theatre/etc.): live entertainment is much cheaper than eating out. Last year we ended-up haing burrittos from a street vendor, then we went to a manouche jazz concert in a pub- beats overpriced meals any time!

  36. Like other commenters, I used to be one of these people who was pretty cynical about Valentine’s Day, especially while I was single, and in an unpleasant, aggro way (“it’s invented by Hallmark, and based on a saint who flagellated himself into a frenzy with leather whips*, you’re all conformist sheep!”).

    Then I met the boyfriend I live with, who’s firmly neutral on the holiday. I’m thrilled to see we celebrate it the way lots of other people do, with the St. Mark Down on Cheap Chocolates day the day after.

    And three years ago I started dating my long-distance boyfriend (I’m poly), who’s flying all the way out from Boston (poor, poor soul) to the opposite coast to be with me for the whole weekend, because while we could have spent any other weekend together during his work break I wanted this one, in no small part due to the fact that I realized many of my past Valentine’s have been really sad, and lonely, or even scarring (with previous, unkind partners), and if indulging in a sappy manufactured holiday will help me draw a happier map for my future and my boyfriend wanted to give that to me, too, fuck it, I’m all in. So we’re renting a cottage and going to an indoor rainforest and my favorite art museum and spending lots of time in bed and cooking elaborate meals, playing a nerdy RPG where we pretend we’re melodramatic teenage monsters, the works.

    Which, P.S., is all stuff I do on the day with or without my boyfriend(s).

    I used Valentine’s as a Treat Yo’ Self day for years without realizing it. I’d give my live-in boyfriend a kiss and leave him to play video games for fourteen straight hours while I took myself out to fancy expensive coffee, went to the museums I wanted to go to, shopped for myself, browsed bookstores, took meandering walks through the park and by the lake, come home and cook myself a big steak dinner, and then watch some ridiculous movie like Ginger Snaps with two blankets and a bourbon.

    Last year, Valentine’s Day hit in the middle of a dangerously low depressive episode, and I didn’t have the energy to do any of that. I stayed in bed for most of the day and used my cat as a hot water bottle. I ordered delivery and ate half a bite of it. I drew a bath and cried in it until the water got cold, and then I took a NyQuil and went to sleep at 7.

    I really appreciate that the Captain reminded us to not poop on other people’s fun with the holiday, because I’ve done a 180° on it, personally. I think any opportunity to Treat Yo’ Self is an opportunity to treasure. For me, in all three thematic versions of my Valentine’s Days I did the best I could to be kind to myself, to give myself what I wanted, and to treat myself gently and with love. It’s not a skill I’m good at, but the holiday prompts me to check in with myself and ask myself what it is I need. Some years it’s to take myself out, some years it’s to stay in, and this year, for the first time, it’s to ask someone I care about to celebrate and commemorate the love that we share with me, and to build memories around it.

    That person doesn’t have to be a romantic partner, LW. It can be a friend; it can be you.

    1. Whoops, I realized I left a hanging footnote.

      *I mean, that being said, if that’s what you’re into, mazel tov! It’s not mutually exclusive with how I celebrate the holiday, certainly. :3

    2. Yay for MonsterHearts. Umm, and Yay for all the rest too.

      I’m glad that you’ve found a way to have a happy weekend and learned to enjoy something that you used to dislike. I’m still not a fan of ‘obligatory’ holidays (on the other hand I also go out of my way to give gifts or do romantic things on non-‘special’ days) but I’ve managed to come around to enjoying Christmas through my son, so perhaps one day I can find a lovely partner to help me love valentine’s day too.

  37. Valentine’s day has its perks for singles – even if you don’t do something explicitly for singles, any solos you meet while out and about on Saturday are probably in the same boat as you are, which reduces the chance of embarrassing yourself by hitting on someone who’s in a relationship. I’m gradually working on expanding my social comfort zone, and where this time last year it would have been unthinkable for me to deliberately hurl myself into the deep end with a bunch of strangers, this year I’m doing it. (It’s impossible to say enough about how awesome Meetup is when working through social anxiety.) So that’s an option.

    However, ‘never dated’ =/= ‘broken and must find someone to date NOW’. If you’re not in that place in your life, this thread has lots of great examples of there being no wrong way to celebrate.

  38. If I may offer another “don’t do it” suggestion? When I was lonely, after college, i decided to go see a big-screen art house showing of “Casablanca” all by myself. To wallow. Only, not really to wallow. Really, to bump into that guy, that guy in my head, the also-lonely-but-smart-and-sophisticated-semi-ironic guy and we’d meet at this movie and go to a coffee house and talk all night and fall in love and have a great meet-cute story and “Casablanca” would be our movie, because that’s how romance works, right? At least in the rom-coms.

    As it turns out, that’s not how it happened.

    What did happen was that I saw “Casablanca” for the first time surrounded by other people my age who had never seen it. And because everything we knew about the movie was from Bugs Bunny reruns, we’d bust out in hysterical laughter at all the big famous meaningful lines. (The moment where Ilsa says, “You have to think for both of us!” I thought the house would come down.) And I actually had a decent time and went home happy.

    So, I take it back, maybe you should go to see an art-house viewing of it. Just without the “meet my true love” expectation. (I did meet him, eventually, LW. In a parking lot.)

  39. Thank you for the note about not pooping on someone else’s fun – I dated someone for many years who hated Valentine’s Day for Reasons which I never understood, because we never celebrated it nor did I expect/much care if I got anything, but after….let’s say, eightish years of listening to this person gretch and moan like the world was having Valentine’s Day at him, it got super old.

    Now I have a Palentine’s Day thing with my single friends and send chocolates and a card to my parents, and everyone is happy.

  40. LW, please do not actually play music outside ANYONE’s window unless they have specifically asked you to play that specific music at that specific window at that specific time. The line between “grand romantic gestures” (which, honestly, don’t work unless you are already in a romantic relationship with that person anyway) and “terrifying things stalkers do to let you know you’re not safe” is vanishingly thin already. Cornering someone where they live and playing music at them that they /can’t/ run away from is definitely on the far side of the “scary” line.

  41. First of all, thank goodness for this website. I always get wary about Valentines’ day articles or discussions because there are usually the people who think it’s stupid and anyone who celebrates it is a blind consumer and blah blah blah and it’s nice to not see that. Mainly because Valentine’s Day is my birthday and thus my favorite day ever (chocolate and birthday presents? yes please!) and I cannot tell you how disappointing it is to be excited and then see the constant “this holiday is dumb and sucks! what about the single people?!” (it’s pretty rare nowadays but middle and early high school? Yeesh. I was too nice and shy to call them out since it often came from friends who KNEW it was my birthday) So yes, this was nice.

    Secondly, I definitely think what other commenters have suggested is great. Not only the ways to celebrate with friends but also self care. If the holiday really affects this friend as you fear it might, then I would definitely suggest him doing something he loves. Movies are typically off unfortunately (the theater by me is going to pretty much all 50 Shades of Gray after Thursday *barf*) but maybe a new videogame or books or whatever interests him would be good. Actually videogames or streaming some silly netflix movies might be a good if he wants to try to get a little group of people together to have fun. It’s pretty low stress and nothing brings people together like mocking a really bad movie or beating each other up on super smash bros.

    It’s really sweet of you to try to help him (pretty sure you said him but sorry if I’m mistaken), and I think everything here is a really good suggestion.

    1. I’m sure you get loads of that too, but if you’re on the other side you do also get a fair bit of ‘Anyone who doesn’t like Valentine’s Day is clearly a bitter, emotionally repressed person who’s just too emotionally stunted in some way to have a partner but can’t admit it and wants everyone else to suffer along with their miserable selves’, even if you personally have kept your feelings to yourself. We should all just leave each other alone a bit…

  42. I’ve always been single on Valentine’s Day and I have established a tradition that I really truly love: each year I feast upon red meat, red foods, a red dessert, and then rent A Movie Where Shit Gets Blowed Up. This year’s menu will feature steak, red pepper strips, tomatoes, red grape juice, and a red velvet cupcake. And I’ve been saving the film John Wick just for this occasion.

    It started out as an anti-Valentine’s Day party with my friends in college but gradually morphed into a tradition that I enjoy and look forward to in its own right. Plus, it’s amazingly elastic; some years I do this with a whole bunch of people, sometimes with vegans (red sauce with tomato pasta), sometimes with only one other person, and sometimes like this year just by myself. If I ever have a partner I look forward to sharing it with them (“What do you want for Valentine’s Day?” “Filet mignon, baby!”), but I get absolutely giddy just thinking about how much damn fun I have doing it every year.

  43. Valentine’s Day? What’s that? It’s Mardi Gras around these parts. I haven’t thought about Valentines since I moved to New Orleans. When Mardi Gras falls near Valentines like it does this year, it can make a great alternative celebration.

  44. The Captain suggested volunteerism and I would like to second that. I volunteer at the Merchant’s House Museum in NYC; they are having a Valentine’s Day concert in their lovely 19th Century parlor and it’s just a beautiful way to spend an evening. That way I can acknowledge the day, feel like I have plans but also not feel pressured by the occasion. If anyone is local to Manhattan and wants to know about the concert, feel free to reply and I will provide details.

  45. This is my mom’s first Valentine’s Day as a widow, and I’m hundreds of miles away and can’t give her hugs. So I’m sad.

    1. Wow, that’s so sad, what a loss for your mom and for you! I’m sure she’ll be glad for whatever you do to reach out.

  46. Someone I know is giving out cards that have empowering/affirming messages instead of Valentine cards (I think they’re called power cards?). You choose a card randomly. Mine says: “It is safe to look within. As I move through the layers of other people’s opinions and beliefs, I see within myself a magnificent being, wise and beautiful. I love what I see in me.” They’re really nice to look at too.

  47. I also live in the land of Friendship Day. I am also (and have always been) single.

    I can no longer remember how this tradition started, but it has by now been established that on Valentine’s Day, I send my friends funny/cheesy/geeky pick-up lines via text message – the more over the top, the better. It’s a fair bit to organise for me, but as I enjoy finding suitably funny stuff it’s worth it to me. Last year, when I was feeling rather stressed and didn’t have time to look for fresh material, I texted sonnets by the stanza. Last year I sent literally that exact Han Solo-line to one of my best friends, and she loved it so much she is sending it to her boyfriend this year (I think they’re spending Valentine’s Day apart because of practical reasons).

    I always ask for permission before texting this stuff to new friends, as a disclaimer that I’m not actually coming on to them and also because some pick-up lines can be rather sexual. However, as a poor student with a decent mobile plan I find this vastly preferrable to buying and distributing food. (One of my friends is allergic to nuts, and I challenge you to find brand of chocolate that a) does not say ‘may contain nuts’ on the label and b) is sold in Finland. An unpleasant encounter with dieting has also made me a lot more aware of the fact that giving people sweets could be not great.)

    By the way, I love the new commenter icons!

  48. I just wanted to say thanks – this post inspired me to get a box of chocolates and a Vday card for a single friend who’s been feeling low recently. Thinking about surprising her with those has given me something to look forward to about today regardless of the complicated feelings stuff I’ve got going on.

  49. I work at a florist so Valentines Day for me means a fortnight of extremely long hours and usually an all nighter the night before – so whether I’m single or coupled I don’t really have to decide to celebrate or not, there’s no time for anything!
    Maybe if anyone is worried about feeling lonely or under pressure or feeling like they have to have a good story for how they spent their day and you have too much free time to wallow you could approach your local florist and ask if they have casual work? Lots of florists hire extra people to strip roses or fold boxes or fill vases, or make deliveries if you have a car. It pretty much guarantees you’ll be too busy to get too into your feelings, and you do get to see a massive outpouring of love amongst other people (from a safe distance) which can make you feel a bit nice too.

    It also means if anyone asks if my partner sent me roses, instead of feeling like I have to engage in some relationship one-upmanship I can say “He knows better! By February 14th I’ve spent so many hours looking at red roses that he knows the kindest thing he can do is to NOT bring any into the house!”

  50. Late to the party, but I just wanted to say how marvelous that Palpatine (de?)motivational is. I’d totally be his Valentine.

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