“And every time she sneezes I believe it’s love/And oh lord…. I’m not ready for this sort of thing.” – Counting Crow
Every year I’ve been at Rollins, I’ve always tried writing a Valentine’s Day article for The Sandspur. Some years I never got published, while other times I even made the cover. No matter what, I have always tried to look at the holiday in ways other people can relate to. For my final V-Day submission I thought it would be fun to talk about some of my personal “Do’s and Don’ts” when it comes to both Valentine’s Day and love in general.
For instance, don’t write a love letter on Percocet. But if you do write a love letter on Percocet, be sure to never give said letter or that poem you wrote about your crush to that person while still on Percocet. As a rule of thumb, wait until after your wisdom teeth have healed before you start professing your love to anyone. For that matter, don’t write love letters. They sound brilliant in theory and love notes can be a very sweet gesture when you are already dating the person. Yet if you are thinking it’ll be super romantic to start writing up your soon-to-be love a letter, let me stop you right there. See, you are about to give a stranger a piece of paper that states, literally in black and white, how you have been secretly thinking about this person all the time, have somehow amassed a great amount of affection for this person without having had any conversation outside generic greetings and head nods, while also having never made any efforts until now to state these feelings of passion. I’m not even going to go into how intense/creepy that all is and just tell you that they ARE going to show that letter to all their friends and you WILL be the butt of their jokes for at least two weeks. Buy hey, who knows? You may very well get a response back… but restraining orders don’t count.
This leads me to my next point: Be careful about being a secret admirer. Again, this is something that looks like such a perfect idea in the movies but quickly begins to backfire on implementation. So you buy that special someone a gift, find a generic love note at CVS, and slap on that good old “From, Your Secret Admirer” on the bottom of the card. You leave it in front of their door at around 6 a.m., as a means to be sure no one sees you do it, and then… what? Again, this can become a mixture of weird and sad very quickly. If you just want to give someone a little gift because they have been going through a rough time and you think they might like one, but also don’t like the implications that Valentine’s Day brings in doing so, then may I suggest doing so on any of the other 364 days of the year. And actually hand it to the person like an adult. Trust me, you won’t get cooties, and they probably would appreciate a nice gesture from a genuine person, especially if they have been having a rough time. They may even call on you later to be a friend and confidant, which is where you can truly do a great amount of good. But, like most people, if you are acting as a secret admirer this year it’s because you really like someone but either don’t know them well enough or are too afraid to send them a gift on Valentine’s Day with your name on it because you know what the implications are. If that is the case, then please refer back to the response from my love letter scenario. Sure, some people may find it charming, but that’s because the recipient of the gift believes it is only a one-off thing. If they still are getting gifts from a “Secret Admirer” in May… not so cute any longer. And let’s be frank: You’re going to want to know if they liked the gift, and that curiosity is likely going to get you found out. Just remember: The reason why you gave that gift secretly in the first place was because you didn’t think that person would be receptive to the gift if it came directly from you. Another rule of thumb: If you can’t do the deed face-to-face, don’t do it at all.
Finally, know the difference between love and lust. Last week I wrote about my philosophy, if you will, on love. While I do still subscribe to a majority of it, I realize that over the last six or so years, I hadn’t been in love. I have really liked girls, thought they were cute, and wanted to become intimate with them in the first five minutes of conversation. But I didn’t really know them. I never sat down and had longer, interesting conversations with them. I just wrote poems about how lovelorn I was and how awesome it would be to be with them (in the most poetic of terms, of course). With the few girls I did get to know, the one’s I did think I was genuinely in love with, I later realized that it was an emotional codependency, at best. I am attracted to damage and I have a tendency to want to save people. And no matter how hard I tried to rationalize that feeling, I know now that isn’t love. No matter how painful it can feel to have to let that person go.
At the end of the day, be smart. I know that it is in our nature to throw away what our minds say in favor for what’s in our hearts, but sometimes our heart lies to us. Or at least doesn’t know the difference. Love is complicated, and while true love can be beautiful, it is something takes time and effort to flourish. I don’t write this to discount your feelings, but I implore you to not go down the route of cliché. The reason why you see it in movies or hear it in heartfelt love songs is because it is all wish fulfillment. This is how we wished the world worked. The only full-proof method to finding love is just as boring as the generic “exercise and diet” method to losing weight: You have to go up to that person you like and ask them out. If they say yes, awesome! If not, oh well, onto the next person. It takes great courage to put yourself out there and tell someone you like them. Don’t discount those feelings by using a generic holiday that most people look at cynically as a crutch. If you are really digging someone and you honestly believe they dig you too, then stand strong, be bold, and say with all the confidence and certainty in world, “Hey! I think you’re cute and I like you. Would you like to do something with me later?”