Oh shit, it’s Valentine’s Day! How are you supposed to deal with this? Don’t panic. Now PANIC. Just kidding, don’t panic. (Panic a little.) Here’s some advice for every possible scenario on this day.
You’re Dating No One
In the Valentine’s’ War, you are the sole victor. Congratulations, truly. Buy yourself a bottle of Frangelico, pour it into two glasses, and drink them both. Pour two more. Golden Girls is streaming on Hulu, did you know? Have fun and be safe.
You’ve Been Dating for Like, Two Weeks
Face it, regardless of whether you like this person and foresee spending all of your Valentine’s Days together until you’re tossed into the same grave, two weeks is not enough time to justify too much stress. I advise avoiding the situation altogether and instead making plans with your friends (Frangelico and the Golden Girls). If you’re roped into hanging out, make this the day you reveal all your weird sex things to each other.
Now that I think about it, THAT should be the real purpose of Valentine’s Day. What better time to announce that you want to dress up in matching Coast Guard outfits while your cats watch or have someone baste your naked body in mayo and slide you across the linoleum? It’s either this or Christmas, and Christmas is super far away. Carpe diem!
You’ve Been Dating for a Few Months
Enough time has passed that you’re probably pretty comfortable around each other. He already knows how you like to use nipple clamps on your eyelids, and you know how he likes his toe webbing licked. If you’re content with the way things are going, leave them where they are. If you think you can stand to kick it up a few notches, it’s time to unveil your skin collection. You can thank me later.
You’ve Been Dating for a Few Years
Wow, great. It’s dinner time for you. Book a table at a prohibitively expensive restaurant, shower, brush ALL your teeth, dust off your fineries and put them on. Purchase or receive flowers, snip the ends, put them in a vase. Chocolate? Nah, forget it.
Now you’re at the restaurant. You both look nice! Take stock of your significant other’s appearance. Do they look older than when you first met? Are those crows feet new? You’d never noticed before. Imagine what they’ll look like when you do this again next year, and the year after. How do you feel? Gratitude that you still like this person, even though you’ve already grown tired of their dumb face? Excitement for the years still to come, unfurling like a red carpet that you’ll traverse hand in hand? Boredom? Fear? Hunger? Grow silent while you survey the couples around you. Do they seem happier than you? Sink into yourself while you prod your butter-poached lobster. What difference does this charade make, really? Couldn’t you be at home in your slipper socks, cat snoring gently on your foot while you eat kung pao tofu off a steak knife? Who do you really think you’re fooling with this florid contrivance?
Suddenly, you remember leftovers. You do it for the leftovers. You brighten, and take your partner’s hand, flushed with gratitude that they’ve chosen to spend this day here, with you. You’re happy, you think, and search their eyes for confirmation that they feel the same. You realize then that they’d been looking at Twitter this whole time, and hadn’t even noticed where you’d gone.
The pressure is ON. This is the time to show all your friends and peers and strangers that the fire is still BURNING, that your relationship still HOT, that you are not going to let a bunch of toddler vomit snuff the flame of your ROMANCE. But you’re going to have to prove it, and it’s going to have to be dramatic, or no one will believe you.
First, put your kids up for adoption: You won’t need them where you’re going (ROMANCE TOWN). Sell your house and everything in it, and book a one-way ticket to the most remote island you can find. I’m not talking about a well-populated surf spot in Bali; I am talking a miserable smear of rock-studded earth somewhere dismal, like the UK. There is no better test of your love’s strength than being forced to seek inadequate shelter under a rain-slicked boulder, one of you struggling to light a fire while the other forages for edible berries you hope don’t prove fatal. If you can do that, you’ll know that you’ve correctly chosen the person with whom you’ve decided to share your life.
If you can’t, well, use the iPhone you sneaked into the sole of your Teva to call yourself a boat. Escape in the night, and never look back.
He/She Doesn’t Know You’re Dating
Fact: More than half of U.S. relationships involve at least one person who doesn’t even KNOW they’re in a relationship! Whether it’s a friend, colleague, neighbor, local barista, dog walker, or amanuensis, it’s time to notify them that while you’re sorry you didn’t tell them sooner, the two of you are, in fact, dating. They’re probably going to have some questions, like how you got into their home, and it’s important that you have clear, digestible answers on hand to minimize confusion. They may react poorly to the news, especially if he or she is already in a relationship with someone else. Give them some time to adapt to the revelation that they’re dating you now. Depending on how they take it, you might want to postpone your announcement that you’ve already moved out of your apartment, and that the van with all your clothes and furniture is waiting around the corner. Twenty minutes should do it.