So, you met a great woman/man/whatever you’re into over the holidays and after trading some flirty texts and a couple of actual phone calls (“It’s so real, we even talked on the phone. It’s like an old-school courtship! I feel like I’ve known him/her forever.”) you decide to meet up. Nothing serious or crazy, a couple drinks after work someplace with a killer “appy hour.” And the house wine special and half-priced calamari flowed like the river rapids of conversation and laughs. This is special.
Or maybe, you met someone on Bumble last week and you really think they could be special. You haven’t gone out yet, but you have texted and, boy, is your love interest funny and fun most of the time. You are intrigued, but not entirely committed to the idea. But you don’t have a Valentine, and you think you should lock this up for the 14th.
Dating has changed so much just in my lifetime that it almost feels like a contact sport (I am told! I am happily married, but have many friends still out there in the game). It’s impersonal and computer-driven and you seem to know so much about the person before even meeting, through social media or dating apps, that you can project some stuff you want onto your intended beloved without knowing if their online profile matches up with their actual personality. In short, love stinks in the digital age. And the fact that there are plenty of fish in the sea makes it easier to cast someone back into the ocean rather than invest the time to get to know him or her.
So, you may have met the love of your life, or it could just be another random date, but that Valentine’s Day moniker makes things complicated. You need some guidance. Here is my advice: Don’t overthink things. Listen to each other. Plan something fun. Don’t give in to the urge to make this date your first date, wedding and honeymoon all in one night. Keep it breezy and light. You don’t really know each other and dating can be stressful enough. Listen to each other. If she says, “I am afraid of heights,” don’t go rock climbing. If he says, “I think the ballet is boring,” don’t assume you can change him. Listening to each other and communicating sincerely is a great foundation for a relationship if you make it past the 14th.
Plan something fun. Something different. Something that doesn’t set expectations too high or paint one of you into a corner. Her friend is in a band! You like music! Go! They probably aren’t the Beatles, but it will be fun. Don’t get reservations at the most expensive restaurant in town. Go to one of those painting nights or a cooking class. How about a museum or an art exhibit? Something where you are on your feet, walking and talking and thinking and engaged. No hiding in a movie theater or behind a plate of spaghetti!
Because here’s the thing: You may never go on anther date. But it’s Rhode Island, so you are definitely going to see each other again. And wouldn’t it be great if in the summer on the patio of a bar if she pointed at you and said to her friend (the beautiful, single one), “I went out with that guy/gal once. It didn’t work out but we had a really great time. He’s/She’s so interesting and fun.”
In Casablanca, Elsa left Rick on the tarmac to go off and fight with her husband and the resistance. But they would always have Paris and no one could take that experience away from them. Make this February 14 your own personal Paris. If you don’t you will regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life. Have a wonderful and safe Valentine’s Day.