M.L.R’s Heart-to-Heart: Valentine’s day

If cupid hasn’t flown by and shot an arrow into your buttocks, it could happen soon. Valentine’s Day 2014 is fast approaching—and like many, maybe celebrating has yet to cross your mind (and cross your path with that venging diapered love troll and his poison darts). Or maybe anxiety has flooded your emotions since commercialism brought in the onslaught of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, promptly after Christmas. No matter your “relationship status” on Facebook, Myspace, or in real life—Valentine’s Day will affect us all.

So, my dear classmates and friends and all patrons of the Phoenix—grab a hot beverage, scoot a little closer to your computer screen—let’s have a heart to heart conversation about how to make the most of your February Fourteenth.

Bitten, Smitten & Foaming at the Mouth

We all have a choice—St. Valentine’s Day can be either sour or synonymous with ecstasy. When it comes to the day of love we typically fall into one of the following categories of people:

  1. The Cynic. If your outlook on Valentine’s Day is dismal and shared in a bitter tone of voice, this might be you. The Ghost of Valentine’s Past has arrived—you never received flowers from ANY of your former boyfriends; you missed your chance to “score” with a former girlfriend; being humiliated by your high school crush when they found out they liked you was when you kissed love good-bye. It is possible that you have become one miserable individual because of a Valentine’s Day gone wrong, internalizing the bad where it has festered like a pimple on middle school picture day. Possible side effects of this condition: your cynicism on or around Valentine’s Day scares small children and the elderly, seeing red hearts makes you sprout horns about your temple, and being hateful brings you both a pseudo sense of satisfaction and an increase in your blood pressure (the latter should probably concern you).
  2. The Twitterpated. Valentine’s Day comes and goes without completely wrecking your life. In fact, you might just love everyone and everything. And while people like me are curious to know if you have an amygdala, you’re planning to spread love to the masses: your mother, your brother, and every stray animal on Main Street. If you have a significant other you’re just dying to spend time together and remind them how much you love them. Possible side effects of this personality type: you might make others nauseous, you might make someone’s day and then nauseate them with your bubbly good mood. Please use caution when crossing the street; your smile might blind the world.
  3. You are the Real Glenn Quagmire. You’re in this for the sex. Possible side effects: inflated ego, easily aroused, sexually explicit, might be described as “forward” and “rude,” and eyes may appear “hungry.” [Ahem… giggity!]


“Life is Like a Box of Chocolates”

The most effective way to ensure that your Valentine’s Day won’t be a blunder is to plan for it (in addition to keeping an open mind and a positive attitude). Here are a few steps for making a realistic Valentine’s Day game plan:

  1. Know yourself. Of the above personality types, which one are you? Have you been bitten by the love bug in the past only to discover that you’re allergic? Do you feel compelled to make love themed candies for everyone you know? Are you the kind of person who would freak out if their significant other suggested to role play E. L. James’s, Fifty Shades of Grey? If you’re introspective then that is the first start to having fun. It is important to understand how you react to Valentine’s Day and what you expect from it. If you’re not going to enjoy yourself fully then why bother?
  2. Who are you spending the day with? Not everyone is in a romantic relationship on Valentine’s Day—it’s just a fact of life that at some point we’re all living the “single life.” If you find that you’ll potentially be on your own that is fine—just don’t wallow in it until it develops into pathology. Here are a few activities to consider:
  • Organize an outing with your close friends to go out for drinks. Be classy; remember to have a designated driver and to be of legal age.
  • Stay in and play the latest Xbox game title—I’ll cover other joysticks later. Order pizza in and enjoy the evening with the guys. (Don’t worry yourself into a homophobic state—sometimes a superficial bro-mance can be healthy.)
  • Skype, FaceTime, call, write a letter, or hang out with your parents, grandparents, or siblings. I know, it sounds corny to spend Valentine’s Day with your family (especially your embarrassing parents). But, chances are, if you’re a college student your family probably loves and supports you in some way—thank them for their love and support (showing appreciation won’t transform you into “the 40-year-old virgin”)

3. Participate in V-Day. I know this sounds redundant. Valentine’s Day is what we’re all trying to participate in, right? V-Day (‘V’ standing for ‘vagina’), however, is a movement to spread love and end violence against women. Click HERE for more information on activism, as well as grabbing a quick education on sex slavery, female genital mutilation, rape, and The Vagina Monologues. ({})

4. Look for inexpensive or free events going on around campus. Remember to check your email for special campus events. For example, take advantage of a great opportunity to support GSC’s National Science and Math Honorary, Chi Beta Phi, and buy roses for Valentine’s Day.  You can purchase a single rose, a half dozen, or one dozen.  Please see a Chi Beta Phi member or call ext. 6310 to place your order.  Orders will be taken until Tuesday, February 11. Payment is collected at the time the order is placed.

One Rose $3.00
Half Dozen Roses + tissue paper & ribbon $18.00
One Dozen Roses + tissue paper & ribbon $30.00

Orders will be ready for pick-up at Science Hall Office on the following days:

Thursday   February 13, 12:00 noon–4:00 p.m.
Friday   February 14, 8:00 a.m.–12:00 noon / 1:00–4:00 p.m.

Single roses may be available for purchase on Thursday and Friday, February 13 and 14, in the Mollohan Center, while quantities last.

5. Love yourself. Simple enough? I thought so. Spend some time alone, treat yourself to your favorite ice cream, get some extra sleep, or spend some time with that Steinbeck book you’ve been dying to read. Go on, you deserve to celebrate you!

6. Talk about it. If Valentine’s Day is extremely gloomy for you, you might want to consider talking it through with someone. If you’re worried about feeling depressed and adjusting yourself well to love and moving past some issues it’s more than okay to seek some help. Give the GSC Counseling Center a call.

7. Go for the date. You probably have your eye on that guy or gal in your chemistry class. Take a deep breath and get up the nerve to ask them out. If you find that you need help in the dating realm you might find it beneficial to grab a self-help book on the topic of dating to help you prepare and ease your way back into the scene.


Daring to Date

If you’re dating someone or simply want to—planning your date is crucial to long-term companionship or even just that first kiss. You really don’t want things to go south with your potential love interest. (When planning you should do things like check the weather to save yourself the humiliation of putting together a picnic lunch in the middle of a blizzard—it is February, after all!)

Whether you’ve been with your significant other for 20 years or 20 minutes here are a few tips on how to make the date special (and ease your anxiety):

  • Find out what your date enjoys. This is a big thing to consider. If you plan to go skydiving for Valentine’s Day and surprise your afraid-of-heights date with the trip things will not be pleasant for either of you. Ask open ended questions about sports, music, pets, or family traditions—their personality will shine through when they talk about things they love, and might give you hints to make the date special.
  • Dinner reservations aren’t a bad idea. I understand the tight budget of the undergraduate and that dinner reservations might be a little too steep. Just remember what it was like when mom packed your PB&J lunch when you were in grade school: she made it easier on you. Look out for yourself and your date—having the meal planned, ready, or reserved at a nice restaurant takes the guess work out of what you’ll eat and will help you both relax. The following are some local date venues:
  • »        Smoke House BBQ, 10 N Lewis St, Glenville, WV - See them on Facebook
  • »        Café Cimino Country Inn, 616 Main St, Sutton, WV – cafeciminocountryinn.com
  • »        Don Patron Mexican Grill, 100 Marketplace Mall, Weston, WV

Whatever restaurant you choose be sure to know if they require a Valentine’s Day reservation and formal dress.

  • Roll with it. So maybe you did pack a picnic lunch in the dead of winter. Times like this can cause panic and can seem doomed. But it is lunch—and the thought was sweet—so spread out the picnic blanket on a table in the Musket, stay warm, and enjoy the quirkiness. If you do it right everyone else will be jealous of your romantic flare.
  • Be polite. I can’t believe I’m saying this because it really should be a “no brain-er.” Be respectful. If your date opens a door for you accept the gesture rather than beating them over the head with your feministic convictions. If physical contact is too much during the first date (or any date for that matter) respect those boundaries—if one of you is uncomfortable then it cannot be a mutually enjoyable occasion. Do things like tip your waiter or waitress, listen, and chew with your mouth closed. As a rule of thumb: if your grandparents would frown on your behavior then DON’T. Be the reason why someone says, “Chivalry has not died!”

“L” is for Libido

Romance might be on the top of your list this Valentine’s Day and how thrilling that can be! And my thrilling we mean that there’s a little “something something” going on between you and your significant other. Married or the first date, sexual attraction is a topic that “comes up,” planned, expected, or completely last minute. Before you get in the heat of the moment consider a few things first to avoid the anticlimactic.

  1. Have consent. Don’t just start having sex with someone—we call this rape, and it is not good. Ask before having sex. Make sure that your partner is okay and wants to participate. Pay attention to his or her actions: if they pull away or say “no” don’t press the issue any further. Remember, if one of you is uncomfortable, then you both lose.
  2. Contraception and STI’s. Chances are you want to earn your degree before becoming a parent. Don’t think about this in too much detail, but you did get here because your parents had sex. If you’re not ready for children then use protection: condoms, spermicide, and/or birth control pills. Local drug stores carry basic contraception such as condoms. (Need a condom at 2 a.m.? Try Go-Mart. It’s better to be safe!) The county health department can provide you with birth control. In addition, many forms of contraception can protect against sexually transmitted infections. Consider flavored condoms or dental dams for oral sex. (Dental dams can be found on Amazon.) If you’re going to have sex with someone it is also responsible to ask if they have any sexually transmitted infections—it’s your right to stay healthy and safe.
  3. Ambiance. Sex can happen pretty much anywhere—don’t do this in public—and with that in mind one should consider the compact nature of a dorm room. Try to make things as comfortable as possible, put on music, and consider your sexual interests… just don’t be creepy.
  4. Worried about the “walk of shame?” Tell a friend where you’re going, whom with, and ask if you can call them if you need a ride home the next morning—or if the date falls flat before dinner is over.

Seeing Hearts: After Valentine’s Day

The sun, hopefully, will rise on February 15. Classes will still demand of us time and attention for the coming weeks and months. Happy, sad, bursting with joy, or with hair partially matted with chocolate (after falling asleep eating chocolates, of course) we’ll all have to face the world of “<3 good morning” text messages and roses dying slowly in murky water. Here’s to well wishes for all of your relationships! Should Valentine’s Day disappoint or be filled full of raptures—may just enough love fill us all, until next year.

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