Carolyn Hax Live - Valentine's Day edition (Friday, February 14)

Feb 14, 2014

Carolyn's regular chat took place Thursday this week. You can see it at this link. Jess the Producer hosted this extra, Hoot-ish Valentine's Day chat.

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Hello, and a very merry unbirthday to you. (That's what we're celebrating today, right?)

If you've been hoodwinked into thinking Carolyn would be here today, I'm sorry. It's just me. Carolyn chatted yesterday in what turned out to be an eventful, if shorter than usual, chat. But we decided that with Valentine's Day falling on a Friday this year, we couldn't just let it pass. So I'm here and ready to have some Valentine's Day fun.

Think of this as a Valentine's Day Hoot. Share your best and worst Valentine's Day stories, your Valentine's Day gripes, your gripes about Valentine's Day gripes, and the dumbest candy heart messages you've ever found (UR HOT made me irrationally angry last year).

Like last time, I don't claim to be able to give advice, but the floor's also open to any questions you have for other 'nuts or any dilemmas you want to throw out to the group. 

For the record, I've lost track of whether I'm supposed to be anti-Valentine's Day or anti-anti-Valentine's Day. But what I definitely am is amused that people sometimes abbreviate Valentine's Day as VD. So on that note, thanks for being my valentine today, and let's go! 

Oh, and in case you doubt my ambivalence on the Valentine's Day issue, I wrote two V-Day-themed compilations of past Carolyn Hax columns. This one about hoping couples find true love, and this one about how much everyone hates Valentine's Day. How's that for being of two minds?

The letter about the perfect b'day for the 1 year old cause me to think that a HOOTenanny of Birthday Horrors would make a great annual column. (signed) A-1 P.S. Other than my mother inviting girls with cooties to my 7th year party, I have none!

Birthdays are definitely another one of those events where high expectations often meet well-intentioned gestures in awful and hilarious ways, aren't they? And yet, I also don't have any real birthday horror stories (I got my cooties shot in 5th grade, luckily).

What I'd like is a hootenanny of middle school horrors where we get to laugh at how ridiculous we were at that age. There are some things I did as a pre-teen that STILL come up at every family gathering - and I think I was pretty good as middle schoolers go!

By the way, I tried to think of a better name for this chat and went to to find a synonym for hootenanny that starts with V. I did not find one, but I did learn an amazing synonym for melee: donnybrook. So, not entirely a wasted effort. Send in your Valentine's Day donnybrooks, folks.

Hi Carolyn - My ex-husband and I separated in September. It was his choice, although things had been difficult for awhile, and I moved very very quickly out of the "sadness" phase into pondering what the rest of my life would look like. We are great co-parents for our 3 year-old. I started online dating in December, mostly just to add something fun into my life. After a few duds, I started seeing a guy that I really really like. A lot. I'm honestly shocked at how much I like him and how great we seem to be together. He's got 3 kids of his own part-time, he's funny, kind, responsible, the sex is off-the-charts amazing, etc. It's been only 6 weeks and I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. I am very very good at being alone, so don't feel like I "need" a partner, especially not so soon. But he's also super awesome. There will be no kid introduction on my side until 6 months have passed. The one thing that is causing me consternation is that he smokes an electronic cigarette quite a bit. I had never really considered my feelings on this before since it's never come up. But he smokes in the car and at his house, mostly after sex or while we're watching a movie or something. I can't taste it on him, he's very considerate of the "smoke" not being in my face or anything. But I can't shake the feeling that this is something that we just don't understand well enough to know the negative effects of. He said he would curb it around me but wouldn't quit, and I totally respect that. I hate to think that this is worth ending a nascent, very promising relationship over. I wish I felt differently. Am I being unreasonable?

Not Valentine's Day-related, obviously. But I thought this was an interesting question to get us started. What do you all think?

To kick off the Valentine's Day Hoot portion of our program, the last time we did a "rumpus room," you had two amazing stories about Valentine's Day gift giving.


My boyfriend gives the best, most thoughtful gifts ever, but for our first Valentine's Day, one of the gifts he gave me was a book relating to death. I forget what it was, and normally I would have found it interesting, but he didn't realize just HOW poor of a fit death and Valentine's Day were together. But it was hilarious, and now whenever I'm like "Will it be weird if I give him books about New Amsterdam and psychoanalysis and toxic plants throughout history for Christmas?" I just think "Death book on Valentine's Day. Nothing's too weird."


I think I can top the Valentine's gift of a book about death. For our second Valentine's Day together, my boyfriend took me to see a movie. He likes foreign films and had seen that one was getting excellent reviews, but he didn't look into the plot. It turned out to be A Separation, the (excellent) Iranian film about divorce and Alzheimer's that's in the running for Saddest Film of All Time.


In middle school, carefully selecting a book for my little boyfriend, based on our common interest in Japan: Hiroshima, by John Hersey.

On the theme of books about death...

Hi Carolyn, You recently asked for updates on couples who had written in in the past. You published a letter of mine a few years ago (and I can't for the life of me find it now - 2008 or 2009?). In it I expressed my ambivalence toward my on-again, off-again boyfriend, basically saying I didn't think I was 'in love' with him and talking about my various problems with our relationship. You pretty much told me to let the poor guy go because it wasn't fair for me to string him along like that. I'm not even sure you phrased it that nicely. While it wasn't easy to read your response at the time, I knew there was enough truth in what you said to realize that the way forward was my decision, and I really wasn't being fair to him. Reluctant to let him go, I got myself into therapy and through some hard work came to the understanding that my problems with my boyfriend weren't about him - they were about the fact that I had been raised with a very specific idea of what kind of man I should be with, and he didn't fit that mold. But more importantly, that logic and my own dating experience proved that someone who did fit that mold simply would not be a good fit for me and the qualities about my boyfriend that made him different from that mold-man actually made him an absolutely wonderful partner in life. It was a matter of shifting my priorities and understanding what really would matter in life in the long run - compassion, kindness, loyalty, friendship, hardwork and everyday expressions of love. Fast forward to today: we've been married for almost 3 years and have two young children whom we adore. I am extremely happy and so grateful that this wonderful man had the patience to let me figure out for myself what I really wanted and needed. - Happy Again

I know, I know. Carolyn published this yesterday. But it hit me in the feels, as they say, so putting it out there again in case you missed it. I've looked and looked for this past column, hoping to be able to get you the link as a nice surprise for today, but sadly no luck. Anyone out there with Google super skills want to give this a shot?

Two separate high school beaus of mine gave me a stuffed animal moose for Vday, in different years. I don't know if CVS had them on perpetual discount or what, but I couldn't figure out what about me inspired the purchase of that particular animal - repeatedly.

That's incredible. I guess meese are your spirit animal? Not a bad choice, as spirit animals go, if not the most romantic of options.

I really wanted to know what a Valentine's Day stuffed moose would look like, so I just googled it and found this, which made me laugh so hard I'm having trouble typing this response. I've built it up too much now, but hopefully it brings you some amusement.

I mailed a card to my 90+ year old mother, who forgot today was a special day. She called me, practically in tears, to thank me for the card. My dad had always bought her flowers and gave her a lovely card for Valentine's day - he was a real romantic! - and it reminded me of what a wonderful couple they were. Married for 60 years. Anyway, bottom line is, it's the little things we do to care about our loved ones that really make a difference in our lives, and theirs.

Oh, this is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Just excuse me for a second while I finish chopping these onions...

I just want to let everyone know that my husband & I are retired and I am totally enjoying being at home with him. We cook together, watch movies, shop for groceries, run errands. When we want to watch different things, we do it in separate rooms. I'm so glad I have him here. And now he's running the snow blower. He's a great guy, and I'm lucky we met back when he was 17 and I was 16. We've been together ever since. Of course if I found either Tom Hiddleston or Tyler Clippard or Tyler Moore in my bed. . .

Sigh. Stop  making the rest of us jealous. At the risk of breaking up your happy marriage, I hope you've seen this Tom Hiddleston gem - you can scroll right to 2:20 if you're short on time :)

This is turning into less of a Hoot than a love-fest so far, isn't it? Where are the horror stories?!

"Fax me." Made even dumber by the fact that I'm seeing this one more and more in recent we use fax machines less and less.

Ugh, yes. This was my second choice. They have "tweet me" now too, I think. Which is more timely, but no less annoying.

What's really sad about the plush moose link is that the moose is a giraffe.

Did you keep scrolling down? The mismatches only get better and better from there.

My senior year of high school I was dating this guy who was a bit relationship-clueless. There was a big dance scheduled for Valentine's Day, and I had high expectations of romance. After the dance, I gave him the gift that I had bought him. He opened it, and then said, "I went shopping for a gift for you but I couldn't find anything that I thought you would like, so I just didn't get you anything... hope that's ok." I was a bit shocked and explained that it kind of hurt my feelings - surely there was something out there that I would have enjoyed? A few days later, he gave me my presents. One was a pretty bracelet and the other was a pendant for a necklace that I often wore. The only problem was that the pendant was one of those Mother's Day pendants, with a heart made out of two people - a mother and child. My boyfriend had NO clue. I wore it for a bit and then quietly put it away. I don't think I ever told him about it. It still cracks me up.

Ah, at ease all, we've found the Hoot.

You should research it! The ingredients are nicotine and vegetable based material. Nicotine is no more harmful then caffeine and, like caffeine, is beneficial is low moderation. The "smoke" you are seeing is actually vapor. I wish people would realize that nicotine is not what makes cigarettes harmful (it's all the poisons, toxins and chemicals added), it just makes it addictive. Also, if this is how he is quitting smoking, don't stop him. Everyone bashes on smokers for not quitting and when we do find a safer option, we get bashed again.

I don't know anything about the science behind this, but the suggestion to research it for yourself sounds pretty spot on to me.

I had a boyfriend in college with red-green colorblindness. On Valentine's Day, I went into his dorm room and festooned the space with bajillions of paper hearts. Green paper hearts. Green streamers. Green everywhere. His roommate just about died laughing, and I think it took me years to own up to what I had done.

Please be my valentine! Do you do the opposite on St. Patty's day?

I'm a single woman in my late 20s and I'm dating a few guys at the moment (several dates each, nothing exclusive). I think it's hilarious that each year on Valentine's Day, it's radio silence. So a PSA for the single/dating men out there, if we're not exclusive, I don't expect to celebrate Valentine's Day with you... but you also don't have to stop texting/calling for 24 hours because of a holiday! We're not 16 so I'm not going to think omigod-he-texted-me-on-valentine's-day-he's-going-to-propose-tomorrow! Thanks

Listen up, men. This woman speaks the truth.

VD Moose sounds like an educational sex ed cartoon, Rocky and Bullwinkel style, for the Navy in the 40s. At least that's how I read it.

My husband and I do not celebrate Valentine's Day. I am not an anti-commercialism, "Hallmark Holiday," hater, it is just not a day that is important to either of us. We have been on the same page about this for our whole (20 year) relationship. So, two questions for you and the peanuts: While I don't proselytize what works for us, if the topic comes up (which it always does) how do I respond to people who assume (1) that they have to defend their celebration to me, or (2) assume that because I am a woman, I secretly am sad and wish we were recognizing the day ("maybe he will surprise you this year"). Any clever way to defuse the situation?

Throwing this out to the group. Thoughts?

Shortly after getting back together with my ex (and shortly before breaking up again), he gave me a Valentine's gift of a promotional frisbee he had gotten for free at some event. For my dog. Who doesn't chase frisbees.

Would it really have been that much better if your dog did chase frisbees?

So tempted to make a joke about him being in the dog house that V-Day. Not doing it. Nope.

so I could share this gem. It was Valentines Day (several years ago now) and I had been dating someone for a couple of months or so. We decided not to do anything special on the Day itself, since restaurants are typically overcrowded and have worse-than-usual service and food. We would prefer to just order in a pizza and watch a movie at his place. I was in complete agreement with the plans, but I didn't want the day to pass completely unmarked, so I spent all Valentine's Day afternoon making my famous chocolate raspberry cake. It's as good as it sounds, and not a particularly easy recipe: four layers of cake with chocolate frosting, ganache and raspberry jam filling, and decorated with fresh raspberries, piped whipped cream, and shaved chocolate. I brought it over to his place that night and his face lights up. "Wow, that looks incredible. My mother is going to love it! She adores raspberries!" No, he did not serve the cake that night. I hope his mother liked it.

Gasp. NO! That cannot have actually happened. How is that possible? I think you might preemptively win today's Hoot. Any chance of a followup on what happened with that relationship?

That is what my SO and I do every year. A fried chicken two piece dinner and sides. It is just an excuse to pig out. I just wanted to share, because I'm really looking forward to it.

It's a beautiful day here in Annapolis, and I feel bad for anyone who had planned to get married on Valentines Day -- the Courthouse is CLOSED!!

Aw. I wonder how many people have had their V-Day plans messed with by the snow.

My parents love to tell the story of how they got married during the biggest snowstorm of that year. They were running from the car to the venue yelling, "Hold up the dress! Hold up the dress!"

Years ago, my now ex-boyfriend decided to make a statement about Valentine's day by presenting me with a ripped piece of cardboard that said "Will you have sex with me?" with $20 taped to it. He thought it was hilarious.


I've always seen Valentine's Day as a Rorschach inkblot test, it is what you make of it. When I was single, I definitely wanted to meet someone but I was happy with my life - Valentine's Day was something I either didn't notice or celebrated with friends, no pouting. I think that if you're very blue about being single specifically ON Valentine's Day, you should look at the love in your life of the non-romantic kind. And if you're still blue, ask yourself whether you are putting too much status/emphasis on being paired with someone. There's so much to celebrate.

Good reminder, thanks. Although there's no shame in bringing out that copy of Love Actually tonight either. 

Now I wish I'd thought of decorating his room in red shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day! The minute time travel is invented, I am going straight back to March 17, 1996 and doing exactly that.

Sigh. I guess it's time. Coming early this year. There is no St. Patricia. It's St. PaDDy's Day.

Is it? You're talking to a Jew who doesn't drink, so I'll take your word for it. My apologies to St. Patrick.

I'm the same way - I just think its kinda stupid. I feel like once I say once that we're just not into it, if someone threw out a "maybe he'll surprise you" or something that equally shows they do not believe me, I'd have to ask if I stuttered... but then again, I'm very blunt :) For those that feel the need to defend their celebrations, "that's nice" works too - that's their insecurity talking, not my problem. If it makes them feel better to defend their celebration, I can tune them out and let them.

My boyfriend and I always get each other small gifts for Valentine's Day, such as books. Well, this year I goofed. I planned to get him a book for his Kindle, and I didn't realize until last night that you can't gift Kindle books. Any suggestions for last-minute gift ideas? Preferably something that could be obtained at the CVS or Walgreen's nearby...

Avoid the stuffed moose is all I can offer.

Valentine's Day masters, help this person out!

So glad I was able to jump in with my issue. When I was in college, I shared a house with 3 friends. All of them were in serious relationships and I was single. About 2 weeks leading up to Valentines Day, they decided to go on a triple date, but everything was really expensive. The triple date turned into dinner at our house. One roommate asked me "since you don't have a boyfriend, do you mind helping us serve and clean up for us afterwards? Then it will feel like a real restaurant. Don't worry, you can eat the dinner in your room since you helped out." I told her no and went out with some other friends to a bar. The following year I lived in a studio by myself.

I can't even.

Our second child was conceived on Valentine's Day. My husband is still using the excuse that he can't top that gift so why try. He is probably right.

I just got braces at 36. Only for 6 months, thank GOD because my face is killing me. My boyfriend has taken to call me "Railroad', left a glass of water and two tylenol on the nightstand and is off shopping to try somehow make a romantic dinner that one does not have to chew. It's the little things. I feel very lucky.

That sound you just heard is every chat reader sighing at once. How sweet!

I remember one year the guy I was dating didn't get me anything for Valentines Day and I was crushed; so my dad went out and bought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I still think fondly back on that day. At the time, I think I was still disappointed about my boyfriend and didn't realize how awesome a gesture that was from my dad.

Despite having a cousin who's a florist, I never thought what a disaster the last 48 hours' weather would be for florists with orders to be delivered today. Until I saw the Post article on line (yesterday, when the paper didn't get delivered).

I think this is the article you mean.

My colleague Caitlin found another job that you really don't want to have today - social media person for a florist. Seriously, read this article and see if you heart doesn't go out to these people, even just a little.

When people question your lack of Valentine's plans, tell them you and your SO would rather have awesome fried chicken!

Great synthesis. Not a V-day hater, you hearing this?

The next couple of posts are ideas for the last-minute Valentine's Day gift...

Can you give him an Amazon gift card to cover the book? Or just print out a cheesy certificate announcing you're buying him one?

If he drinks, the Walgreens and CVS's near me carry a fairly decent selection of booze. Not a nice liquor store by any means, but your basics: Jack, John, Jameson

What are you talking about? I buy my dad specific kindle book gifts all the time. Go to Amazon. Under the "buy with one-click" button is a button that says "give as a gift."

Food! Chocolate obviously jumps out, but is there a certain type of food he loves? Cheese, a special type of snack food, etc.

homemade dinner ..or homemade cupcake ...or homemade card with silly "roses are red" poem.

By the way, a lot of people are pretty adamant that you can gift Kindle books as long as you know the person's email address. So you might not be out of luck on that front after all?

You can indeed send Kindle eBooks as a gift. Just select "Give as a gift" on the product page and enter the recipient's email address! :)

I told my boyfriend that on Valentine's day, half of the women in the office get flowers delivered, and the other half pretend they don't care. Wouldn't you think that would have gotten the message across? Apparently not.

I don't know. So far we've heard about one guy who thought a V-Day cake was for his mom and another who thought money for sex would be a great gift. So maybe subtlety is not always a fella's strong suit?

One year my BF said he had a gift for me on VD. I thought it was going to be a piece of art that I had admired the weekend before, and he had disappeared for a while after the comment. He appeared with a jewlery box. Gasp, jewlery!? I opened the box and found a plastic keychain with my name on it (misspelled, Joe (boys name) instead of Jo). He didn't last long.

My wife has a running theme of getting me "sharp & dangerous" valentine's gifts. It started when we were dating and she got me a swiss army knife. Over the years I have gotten steak knives, filet knives, power saws, various tools, and today she got me a nail gun (remodeling bathroom). It doesn't happen every year, but frequently enough that we laugh about it after 24 years. Fortunately, flowers & chocolate are enough for her!

And here we have thoughts on how to tell nosy people that you're just not that into Valentine's Day.

My boyfriend and I sometimes celebrate vday, sometimes don't, it really depends on how much energy we have and how much money. But for me I just think "every day is like valentine's day when you're with the right person." another answer: oh, we're just keeping it low-key, which is generally true. On the agenda tonight: take out and house of cards! there's nothing else we'd rather be doing for vday.

What's wrong with a simple, "I'm actually happy with this, thanks." for the maybe-this-years and a "Sounds like you'll have fun!" for the I-love-this holidayers? All I'm seeing is a molehill, there.

When someone asks what you are doing for Valentine's day sust say "pretty low key -- that's what we enjoy." For my husband and I this year's marking of the day will be binge watching House of Cards.

How about "We were too busy this morning having mind blowing sex to notice what day it is"? This worked really well on my ex-mother-in-law when she dropped in to my home day care unannounced (Friday afternoon of the most beautiful spring day EVER!!!) and couldn't understand why I didn't keep her son's home immaculate. In front of her mother and her adult daughter I explained that I gave him a choice when we first got married; great sex or a clean home. "Guess which one he picked?" She turned on her heel in a huff and left.

Hi Carolyn, Thanks for answering questions on Valentine's Day! My questions is about how to make the most of a pretty lousy Valentine's Day. I started seeing my boyfriend four months ago and for the first couple of months our relationship was great! But starting in January he started his busy season at work. He's under an incredible amount of stress, barely gets any sleep, and works every day of the week. It's put a lot of strain on our relationship, which I did anticipate. I see him pretty infrequently now. About once a week, he'll come over around midnight and leaves at 5am, which pretty much feels like he's just coming over for sex. We've talked about how hard this is for me, but he's so overwhelmed I worry about adding to his stress. His busy season ends in 2 weeks anyways so I'm just trying to make it till then and hoping everything goes back to normal. Anyways, I was looking forward to Valentine's Day, because he had planned to get off work by 8pm and get dinner together. Yesterday he texted to cancel and I was pretty upset. After talking about it, we decided to have a very late dinner at my place. So I'm going to try to cook something nice and make the most of it. But I'm having a hard time dealing with my hurt feelings. I'm upset about Valentine's Day, but I'm really just feeling hurt about how the relationship is going. I feel like my complaining is just making him stressed and resentful. I'm wondering if I should just cancel the Valentine's day dinner, end this relationship, or just grin and bear it for another couple of weeks. Thanks.

Sorry your Valentine's Day didn't pan out the way you thought. 

What do the 'nuts think on this one?

Here are REAL Valentine's mooses

Aw, this one. I'm ready to take back my statement that moose aren't romantic.


So - When I was in 5th or 6th grade I decided that rather than tip my hand about which boy I liked, I'd just give valentines to the girls. Well, wouldn't you know it that the boy I did like was so insulted (apparently the feeling was mutual) that he demanded his Valentine back. No surprise, our little elementary school romance never bloomed.

I bet he gave you one of those handmade ones with the little doilies too. How could you?!

Do you give her pennies for them? It's a British/Canadian tradition that if someone gives you a knife as a gift, it will cut the friendship so you pay the giver with a penny. We have never figured out whether one penny will do for a Swiss Army knife or whether it has to be a penny per blade.

And what do you do for the corkscrew attachment? This sounds like a minefield.

On the last Valentines Day my husband was alive, he bought me a stack of chocolate bars from Whole Foods--carefully checking for the allergens that I avoid. Except--he bought one mocha bar and I've never liked mocha. Guess which of the bars he gave me that year I still have.

Oh wow. I'm so sorry for your loss. This certainly gives perspective to the rest of our bad gift stories.

Sharing the love: The mother-child pendant story reminded me of VD 1991, when I was in 10th grade. I was completely surprised with a gold necklace and a small, silver lock-and-key charm from my first boyfriend. Actually, I think I was more embarrassed, because I can't remember getting him anything. Today's 14-year-olds would probably take to Facebook and call the kid a stalker, for all I know--but back before the internet, when we were still rockin' our 8-bit Nintendo, it was a mind-blowing experience. So, thanks, G. It's probably still tucked away in my room somewhere.

One Valentine's Day my boyfriend at the time gave me a diamond heart necklace. A few days later, he admitted he found on on the floor of the women's locker room at gym he worked at. So he gave it me. I was both heartbroken/disgusted when he told me. I've been meaning to pawn it for years and give the money to charity, because I feel its so icky. Needless to say, I don't miss him at all and can't believe I was ever stupid enough to date him.

And this is the opposite of the previous story...

Right after we were married I had to go on a business trip over Valentin's day. I decided to send flowers to my husband at his workplace. Well flowers arrived a lot of the women were excited wondering who they were for. Incredulous that it was for one of the guys. Guys tried telling my husband that guys don't get flowers. My husband was thrilled.

Guys like to feel loved to0! The other dudes were probably just jealous.

The two times I've received flowers for Valentine's, they were essentially for someone else. One of my guy college friends bought me a rose while he was buying a bouquet for a girl he was dating. And yesterday my office friend gave me one of the flowers from the bouquet her dad sent her. I've been single for 33 of my 35 Valentine's, but I've always loved it--maybe because my favorite color is red and I love candy.

One year I was so behind on VD that I got him a heating pad at CVS - yes, that's right... I think that "MAY" be the worst gift I ever got him ... but the year I got him an "excel for dummies" book while he got me a pearl necklace was pretty bad, too ... In my defense, I thought we were going light on presents that year, and he seemed not to think so ... I cried. It's now well known in our house that I SUCK as a gift giver (not always, though) - and we chalk it up to genetics. I once received a pair of candlestick feet from my dad for Christmas.

As long as you can laugh about it!

What are candlestick feet? They sound like the very last component needed to create a candlestick that will sing Be Our Guest while serving you dessert. That is to say, they sound like an amazing gift.

I'm gonna defend celebrating Valentine's Day because every time I've heard someone say they don't *do* Valentine's Day, it's followed up by some dreck about "we show each other our love every day, not just on this commercial holiday" and it's like, gimme a break. You think my husband and I only profess our love to each other on this day? I would never assume that you're secretly sad, but you don't even exchange cute Valentine's cards? Or SweeTart Hearts (the best candy EVER)? You don't have to go all out for dinner and diamonds, but to just disdainfully watch the day pass seems like a missed opportunity to give your SO some fun candy, at the very least.

I think what we're learning here is that to each their own, right? Some single people love Valentine's Day and celebrate with gusto, some coupled people don't enjoy the fuss, and vice versa on both counts. So as long as you're able to make the holiday what you want (a grand gesture or a quiet night in), then you're coming out on top. Right?

Accountants have busy season from 1 Feb (when all w-2s are due) to 20 April (there are always some with delays). I had this for 20 years. Tough out the 2 months you have and know about (at least you know why he's out of touch) and see what happens when he returns to the land of the normal. If he's back to the person and activity choices before the busy season started, well and good. If not, take it as a warning.

Good advice. And I guess also think about whether this is something you can live with every year, no? Because next January it's going to happen again.

Just because the calendar says today is Valentine's Day doesn't mean you have to celebrate it today. I was going to miss Valentine's, Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's during my basic training, so my friends and I celebrated them all in one night, calling it Mardi McValentine's. But you should keep in mind that if he's going to have a busy season every year, and it leaves you feeling neglected, maybe you would both be better off with someone who has a more compatible schedule.

You have been together for four months. Suck it up for another month and see how it is when the busy season dies down. I know my husband would cancel if he had to work late because he wouldn't want to ruin my evening by him having to work late-- he wanted me to go out and have fun. With our schedules, much of our first year was a 8pm to 5am visit (with me in bed by 10, so just for dinner and sex). As his busy season died down, things got so much better and you realize that Feb 14th is no different than Feb 15th.

Guy on my trivia team who I have suspected has a crush on me just sent me a text. It said "Happy Valentine's Day". and he attached an illustrated poster for the HBO show that involved a creepy stag (and maybe a dead body? I DID NOT ZOOM IN). I have no idea how to interpret this, but I really hope that this doesn't mean I'm getting murdered tonight.

Um, me too? Is there an interpretation where that isn't a weird thing to send somebody?

My husband is a tax attorney. This means that his busy season is roughly from New Year's Day to the end of May. Since we have been dating, he has been extremely busy during this time period. We have made some adjustments over the years that really helps with this: 1) Manage expectations. You know this is his busy time at work, so plan accordingly. 2) Find things to do on your own that he would be lukewarm about. Museums, visiting friends out of state, a new show on Netflix, whatever. One year I trained for a marathon. 3) If you get to the point where you have a house, pets, and kids, explain to him that you cannot just pick up 100% of the slack during his busy times. Hire a maid, nanny, or even dog day care and budget accordingly. 4) Delineate between and actual emergency (my water broke) to a not-so-actual emergency (the dog rolled in something gross) and decide together what is worth interrupting him for. 5) Decide if this is a deal breaker for you. It is not an easy choice to make, but if you will have serious resentment towards him, this might not be the relationship for you.

One more for feeling blue, because this seems to sum things up really well. 

I had the hugest crush on a guy in my dorm because he gave me this answer to the what're you doing for Valentine's Day: Drinking my weight in malt liquor and crying like a school girl.

My boss, who'd had a couple of minor sexual harassment complaints, decided it would be a good idea to give me a sexy lingere set for Valentine's Day. He was fired the next day. Too bad....he had great taste in lingere.

Happy day before VD, Carolyn! I have been interested in a guy I work with for over a year. We are very close and spend a lot of time together outside work, and I was hoping it might develop into something more. We talked about it very briefly a year ago but I had just gotten out of a six-year relationship and he didn't want to jump into anything so soon. I just found out that he is casually dating someone and it crushed me - a lot more than I expected. My question is, do I now tell him how important he is to me and that I was hoping we could be more than friends? Or do I chalk it up as a missed opportunity and try to move on? Thanks!

Another good question to the group. What do you guys think? 

For what it's worth, Carolyn had a great answer to a sort of similar question here.

My husband and I are largely indifferent to V Day, we love each other every day. However, I have fibromyalgia and said, "if you wanted to give me a gift today you could go do the necessary grocery shopping since I don't feel so hot." He jumped up and he's on his way. THAT is love.

I've got a good one. Back in college (~5 yrs ago), my on-again off-again boyfriend planned a big, romantic valentine's day. He had activities planned all day long: wine tasting, parks, fancy restaurant, etc. This was unusual for him since he was normally extremely self-centered and thoughtless. I thanked him profusely and followed up with a post to his facebook wall about what a great day it had been. I knew something was wrong when he deleted my post!! He scolded me for mentioning valentine's day and said that he's such a private person and doesn't like people knowing what he's up to. We broke up shortly after and he immediately had a new girlfriend. Turns out there was significant overlap between me and the new girl and he didn't want the other girl to know about me!! He was such a jerk. Folks, don't be fooled by forced displays of love---what matters is how your partner treats you the rest of the year!

Aha! For all those who complain about the romantic proclamations that show up on Facebook this time of year. This story is for you.

A guy I dated sent me a small, potted plant one year for Valentine's Day because, as he explained it, he knew we were in enough of a relationship he needed to acknowledge the day, but wasn't sure he had strong enough feelings for me to send me flowers and didn't want to lead me on. In retrospect, that was such an omen for how the rest of the relationship went.

One year I sent my then husband a dozen red roses for V-Day. He tried to convince his secretary to call a messenger to have the very same roses sent to me ("Why waste a dozen roses?") She refused...and he is now an ex.

Don't people usually try to avoid regifting to the person who gave the gift in the first place?

My freshman year of college, I met and started dating a friend-of-a-friend who lived about an hour away. I took public transportation by myself in a snowstorm, just to go see him for Valentine's day. He was supposed to meet me at the train, he didn't. I had to walk alone in a city I've never been to and find his apartment (this is pre-GPS days!). When I got to his place, he said he didn't want to go out to a nice dinner like we originally planned. Instead: We went to a popular mexican fast food chain. The kicker is, as we were walking out the door, he invited his roommate--who gladly accompanied us!

I would give just about anything to interview the people on the other end of these stories and find out exactly what the heck they were thinking!

We don't celebrate either, but a few times a year my husband will buy my flowers, chocolate, and ice cream at random. Three times now he's gone through the line, had a cashier look him dead in the eye, and ask, "What did you DO?!" They just can't imagine that he didn't really, really mess up if that's all he's buying.

My husband and I normally don't go out of our way to celebrate Valentine's Day, and usually focus on kid gifts if anything, but this Valentine's Day he's gone on a military deployment, so it feels like the perfect day to really embrace the feeling-sorry-for-myself aspect that rears its head during a forced romantic holiday. So I went to Taco Bell, by myself, for lunch and enjoyed a $5 lunch. I just emailed him and told him it hit the spot, with its delightful pathetic aftertaste. Now I'm eating an entire "FaveReds" pack of Starburst, stolen from my daughter. We have yet more snow coming, so Mother Nature is doing her part to pile on. I know it's a different kind of sadness than someone who might not know there's someone out there wishing they were with you on Valentine's Day too, but it's helping me to amuse myself by being as woe-is-me silly about it as I can.

Well, you've got over 1,000 valentines here with you, if that helps at all. Thanks for spending it with us, and I hope being here is not one of the woe-is-me activities!

If it's some sort of Game of Thrones reference (I guess? Stags?) he might just be awkwardly making a reference you're not getting. It seems like the sort of thing my super-nerd husband would do.

Let's all hope that this is what's happening here.

One Valentine's Day we closed on our new home, my husband said it was my present. I said, oh no. The following year we bought my new car, he said it was my V Day present, I said oh no. I still have a trunk full of Sad Sam and Sad Honey stuffed animals he gave me while we dated. Love the guy.

My Boyfriend got me the Band of Brothers DVD set for Valentines Day one year. I really didn't think it was weird at the time. I really loved that mini-series, but now that I'm thinking about it, not the most Romantic gift ever. A couple of years later he got me the Sex and the City Movie and Mamma Mia- and he watched them with me. He actually kind of liked SATC but during Mamma Mia he kept saying: "Are they really singing again?!?" We will be getting married in July in case anyone is wondering...

He sat through Mamma Mia for you? That is true love. Congratulations!

Not a fun story at all - but - just broke up with SO of three years for very Haxian reasons (love each other very much but not helping one another become who we want to be and feeling out of ways to try solving problems) and could use some V-day hugs, if there are any to spare!


What day do you celebrate this great holiday?

Yes. And please share what traditions it entails that the rest of us can adopt. I'm thinking along the lines of Festivus poles and airing of the grievances.

Well then.

The staff at the second location is also excited for the big day and they plan on decorating tables with flowers and champagne glasses.

"No real champagne but they are pretty glasses!" said assistant manager Taneka Cosby.

Waaay back when I was in college far from home, my father sent me flowers for Valentine's Day that came in a coffee mug for a vase, one with little red hearts all over it. Nearly 30! years later, that mug is still in my cupboard.

I love these reminders that Valentine's Day can be about whoever we love and whatever relationships are important in our lives. Thanks for sharing!

To take some of the pressure off my first Valentine's Day with my S/O, I made all our plans... to see Die Hard and get Chinese food and crash in bed at 10:30. It'll be hard to top that this year...

I know this is a HOOT, but this trend of the guy doing things all wrong is begging for one where the guy was spot on: I was working at an office where there was a temp receptionist. He was there the few weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, but not the week of. We grabbed lunch a few times in the weeks he was there, but nothing came of it. On Valentine's Day, I received a delivery (at the office) of red tulips and a note card that said something like "If there was ever a time for a brazen romantic gesture, this was it" and his name/phone number. Of course I called, and we went out once (I just wanted to be friends). I hope he found a lucky lady whom he can surprise today.

Every year my dad used to give me an unwrapped present with a construction paper heart that said "For my 'favorite' child" taped on it. I'm an only child, so it was totally appropriate, but it still gave me the EXACT feeling of special snowflake-ness everyone craves on VD.

I was on the swim team in college. On 2/14, I showed up to practice and the end lane had a heart balloon tied to the starting block. The coach told me the balloon was for me, and the lane was mine & mine alone. I swam the whole practice completely confused as to who would have done it. I had a girlfriend, but she was an extreme introvert. At the end of practice, the coach and I had the following conversation: "You really have no idea who did this?" "I have some idea, but it's really not the kind of thing she would do". "Well, she did it". Okay then!

So my wife and I are procrastinators... We're sitting around theliving room watching TV wednesday night, waiting for Snochi to hit, when she suddenly gets this look on her face, and says "I didn't get you a Valentines card yet - and all the stores will be closed tomorrow" - expecting a "don't worry about it - neither did I" from me. Instead, I tell her "sounds like poor planning on your part." My 13 year old daugher says "I didn't get one, either." Same answer for her. They both look at me expectantly, for me to fess up. I just sat there quietly, smiling. "Wait - you're trying to tell us that YOU bought a card EARLY???" What can I say - I got lucky. I popped into the grocery store to buy sweetened condensed milk for making snow ice cream on my way home, and the V-Day cards were right there. It was an accident ... (FWIW, I haven't given her the card yet; I'll do that at dinner time. Just before I host a jam session at our house that'll go til midnight..)

Just enjoy all the good guy points you'll be collecting from this. Not that we're bean counting. We all know the dangers of bean counting.

I just got a package in the mail! A red velvet heart shaped boxt with candy from the Cutest 80 year old on the planet! i met him on a trip to spain and we have been pen pals ever since! Made me smile!

Made me smile too! How adorable is that? You are one lucky valentine!

The February before we got married, my father passed away on Valentine's Day, inconsiderate to the last (I kid!). The following year, as the day approached, I realized that if I took my wife out for a romantic evening, I'd be leaving my mother alone on the anniversary of Dad's death. My wife is a sweetheart and a really good sport, and she said that of course we would invite my mother out with us. So every year since, it's been my wife and my mother on V-Day, and this year the baby is coming too. I make it up to my wife with a romantic dinner at another time, but I'm grateful for her understanding, and I'm a lucky fellow.

I'm getting ready to start wrapping up, but I was not joking about wanting to know how to celebrate Mardi McValentine's. Please someone weigh in on this before we end!!

Twentymumble years ago, two of my friends and I had a truly atrocious run leading up to VD. One friend had been casually dating a guy who had established a record of being extremely cheap (he went along with a group of us to celebrate her birthday and didn't offer to pay or even contribute for her meal, and later when she had her wisdom teeth out, he got her a potted plant from Giant. We knew this because the $2.99 price tag was still attached. This was the source of one of our Dating Rules: It doesn't count as "flowers" if there is dirt involved. But I digress). My other friend had just recently found out that her mother was seriously ill, and was also alone. I had just discovered that I guy I once dated had come out as gay. We decided to Embrace the Suck and had a full-blown AntiVD date for the three of us: We wore black and blue (nothing red or pink), had dinner at Taco Bell (the least romantic place we could think of) and went to see the movie Boys on the Side, because the only significant male character got beaten to death with a baseball bat. Turned out to be a pretty great evening!

When I worked at a grocery store, I don't think it was actually for Valentine's Day, but I had a customer come through my line with a single rose. I commented that it was lovely, and the older man behind him in line said, "He's learned early--one flower will get you just as far as twelve!" I think of that everytime I get flower(s).

All the Dad stories are making me teary-eyed. I had a mostly awful, mostly absent father, but this is really making me thankful for my husband. I am so glad that my little girl has THIS kind of Dad!

It sounds like a reference to "True Detective," which is a great show, but I have no idea what he's trying to say. (Are you a big fan of Matthew McConnaughey (sp?) or Woody Harrelson? Or of "The Killing"?)

OP, the consensus from the 'nuts is that your text is True Detective-themed (not Game of Thrones). Does that help explain it?

This is my first valentine's day in 20 years without my sweetie, who died last November. Since I believe laughter is the best cure for a broken heart, I'm tallying the number of times per day something makes me laugh out loud. Thanks to the chatsters for more than doubling today's tally!

In 1993 I was living in Maryland and volunteered with the middle school youth group at my church. In previous years I had had a platonic friend who sent me roses for Valentine's Day every year (and then I would call him to thank him, and that was pretty much the extent of our interaction for the year). But I had lost touch with him a few years before. And I had broken up with the boyfriend who had sent me roses the previous year. I must have mentioned that I wasn't expecting flowers that year (and I was sad about it), because Valentine's Day was a Sunday and when I got to church two girls from my youth group had conspired to make me a bouquet of construction paper roses. They cut out hearts and put them together to make it look like the petals of a rose. Sadly, I have moved many times sinc then, and the roses are long gone. But Monica and Sara will forever be in my heart.

Those onions seem to have reappeared on my desk. This is so lovely.

Could the poster tell us more about this?

Yes, good point. I was so enthralled with the rest of it that I let this key detail slip by. Most of us are currently buried under a foot of snow. Please tell us how to turn it into ice cream.

My father always used to send my care packages and gifts even after I was married. He liked to take care of people. One year, I was diagnosed as being extremely anemic. Thereafter, my father used to send steak to me - - always stating that I could share it with my husband! So funny! He also started the tradition of sending my steak and chocolate cake (my favorite) for Valentine's Day. My father passed away 16 years ago, but we still talk about the "steak and cake" and even my kids who were just babies at the time he died, recall him fondly based on the stories we tell.

Way to come through. Here are some suggestions on how to commemorate Mardi McValentine's. I'm in if you all are.

I read that and thought of Marty McFly, so binge watching all Back to the Future movies.

Sounds like the perfect holiday for those red shamrock decorations.

we eat corned beef and cabbage while wearing silly plastic beads and drinking champagne.

You drink beer and whiskey with green and purple and gold beads around your neck, and then eat tons of chocolate.

I think we may be inadvertently celebrating this tomorrow! Our group of friends usually gets together for St. Paddy's Day, but this year it's happening early for a variety of reasons, and it's going down tomorrow. It'll be a bunch of us at a bar wearing a combination of green shamrock antenna and pink and red shiny necklaces, drinking beers and engaging in general tomfoolery. Happy Mardi McValentines everyone!

You drink green beer while eating heart-shaped chocolates and wearing Mardi Gras beads, duh. Traditionally, you should wear red, green, or a combination thereof. Bonus points for speaking with an Irish accent, overt displays of affection to your fellow party-goers, and flashing.

(Not the original poster) Can I nominate Feb 29th for this wondrous event? It's the midpoint between V-day and St. Paddy's and the roaming nature of Mardi Gras makes calculations difficult. Plus the 29th is just a cool day anyway.

But then it only comes every four years! If this holiday is as cool as we're making it sound (my personal favorite is the Back to the Future marathon version), I can't wait that long between celebrations! Maybe it happens Feb. 29 but in a Platform 9 3/4 kind of way where it's always there if you just believe hard enough and run fast enough at a seemingly solid object.

Dorothy Parker has your number, kid: A single flow'r he sent me, since we met. All tenderly his messenger he chose; Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet - One perfect rose. I knew the language of the floweret; 'My fragile leaves,' it said, 'his heart enclose.' Love long has taken for his amulet One perfect rose. Why is it no one ever sent me yet One perfect limousine, do you suppose? Ah no, it's always just my luck to get One perfect rose.

I have been in the military for 10 years, and single my whole life (31yo). Any time I have been in the US, to include college, my dad has always sent me chocolate covered strawberries! He called me before the snow storm Wednesday to let me know to expect a package today... lo a behold, I have a bouquet of chocolate covered strawberries! That is what I call the perfect V-day from the one steady male presense in a girls life!

I used to work at a shop that sold greeting cards, there was a card featuring the work of a prominent articst with a picture of a heart, it read "VD-The Gift That Keeps on Giving" Lets hope they meant Valentines Day! ;~)

Glad to oblige. 1 gallon of snow. 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk. 1 tsp vanill extract. Mix. (ps - NOT 1 tsp peppermint extract!! Maybe 1/4 tsp if you want to flavor it that way. (pps. My 13 yo daughter wanted to find yellow food colring to add - she thought making yellow snow for us would be hilarious.)

Oh, you're amazing. I was just getting ready to hit the end button but holding onto hope that we'd get to this first.

I think it probably goes without saying that you'll want to stick with clean snow that hasn't been salted. But just in case...

Years ago, I think our first Valentine's Day as a married couple, I spent weeks beforehand dropping obvious hints about how much I liked the Outcast song "Hey Ya" and would like to have the CD anytime it would come on the radio (which was ALL THE TIME). A week before the big day, my hubby asks very seriously what I would like for a gift. Head smack, but I told him my hint and he vaguely recalled how often I had mentioned it. On Valentine's Day, I open my present to find...a Nelly CD. We still laugh about it occasionally (is it 10 years later already??). And he has found the perfect solution...he gets me chocolates every year.

But you still "shake it like a polaroid picture" every once in a while, right? It may have been 10 years ago, but that never stops being a great lyric.

Alright, that's it for me. I laughed, I cried and I audibly gasped more than once. Thanks for sharing your Valentine's Day disasters, and the Valentine's Day love.

Edit: I can't believe I missed the opportunity to say that Mardi McValentine's Day should involve a donnybrook. Sigh. You can't win 'em all. Happy V-Day!

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Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis. The column has since gone daily and into syndication, where it appears in over 200 newspapers. Carolyn joined The Post in 1992 as a copy editor in Style, and became a news editor before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of "Tell Me About It" (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon on She lives in New England with her husband and their three boys.

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