Happy Valentine's Day!
Actually, is there really such a thing, a genuinely happy Valentine's Day? I suppose it happens, like the occasional Christmas miracle or the bountiful Easter egg hunt. But for most, Valentine's Day is a day that is an anxious mix of pressure and commercialism, disappointment and even depression.
Valentine's Day looms on the calendar like New Year's Eve -- a monumental occasion that demands participation. If you are dating, you have to pull out all the stops, then times that by one hundred. If you are married or partnered up, you either swing for the fences or act like you're too cool and totally above it all. And heaven forbid you don't have a loved one to spoil with gifts and cards and candy and flowers and dinner reservations. Being single on Valentine's Day can feel like the equivalent of being a love leper.
Here are a few tips for surviving Valentine's Day for any relationship status:
Hi. My name is ...
Wayne: If you want to ask someone out or make your intentions clear to a crush, you couldn't pick a more fitting day to put it all out there than Valentine's Day. It's romantic, it's bold, it's memorable. If you succeed, you've got instant Cupid cred. If it backfires, you can blame it on all the love in the air.
Wanda: I don't know, Wayne. Valentine's Day is so laden with expectations. Unless you're sure that special someone is in the bag, so to speak, I might wait until the 15th to schedule that first date.
Wayne: If you're dating, you can't come empty-handed to Valentine's Day. I repeat -- you cannot come empty-handed to Valentine's Day. Even if your love interest says they don't want to celebrate, you must make some sort of romantic gesture, large or small. Trust me on this one ...
Wanda: True story. Want to know how I know? Because I've been the gal who told her guy, "Oh, you don't need to do anything special," only to get taken for my word. Bummer!
Wayne: This is where Valentine's Day defines itself. At this point, you don't have to woo anymore. Some couples still go Cupid crazy while others don't enjoy the whole production and either go mellow or ignore the day all together.
Wanda: Isn't every day Valentine's Day for new couples? Rather than fight the crowds or wait to eat dinner until 9:15 p.m. because you forgot to make a reservation, stay in, cook dinner together, watch a movie, snuggle, be adorable.
Wayne: If you can make it many years in a relationship, you deserve to celebrate any way you'd like: flowers and champagne or a tiny smooch and a note.
Wanda: By now, you know it's all about communication. What do you want to do? What does your beloved want to do? Whatever that is -- do that. Yay! So easy.
Wayne: Find other singles, go out to a sports bar, have a few beers and laugh at all those fools trying so hard. Then make sure to visit the grocery store the next day and buy all as much half-off Valentine's candy as you can stomach!
Wanda: Whether I'm with someone or not, I've always regarded Valentine's Day as a good time to let my peeps know I love them. I like to send notes to friends, call my folks and catch up with people I haven't heard from in a while. You don't have to be in a relationship to share, spread and feel the love!
Wayne: Whatever you do, don't spend Valentine's Day watching the movie "Valentine's Day." In fact, don't spend any day watching it. You're welcome in advance.
• Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.