I love you?

A Valentine’s Day guide to the “Don’t’s” and “Do Me’s” for relationships at any stage.

Martina Marosi

Despite the old, store-bought countercultural adage that itâÄôs âÄújust a corporate holiday,âÄù ValentineâÄôs Day is still for many the cause célèbre to have some of the best mediocre sex of their lives.

An ostensibly lighthearted occasion, the day can also be a hotbed of sleeper debates rooted in the politics of romance. In any case, there is a general consensus âÄî if not simple majority âÄî on what are circumstance-appropriate dates come Feb. 14.

Single and lovinâÄô it?

Most people know the old saying, âÄúYou cannot love others until you love yourself.âÄù With this in mind, those looking to love may seize the opportunity to do their homework and wake up alone in a lukewarm bath after the candles have burned out. However, being single doesnâÄôt mean the night canâÄôt end in a hot âÄônâÄô heavy threesome with Ben and Jerry, which, though not itselfsexual, is sure to be orgasmic. âÄúKaramel Sutra,âÄù anyone?

Of course, ValentineâÄôs Day is also a great time to bone up on your body of sexual knowledge for when the romance isnâÄôt so muchof a no-mance. Get a couple of single friends together where you can support each other with weakly mixed drinks and a series of group high fives. Then, after resolving that relationships arenâÄôt worth the trouble, you can return home and silently cry into your pillow.

One month

On principle, one might completely abstain from starting new relationships in January if only to avoid the ethical questions surrounding the ValentineâÄôs Day date looming just a few weeks ahead. ThereâÄôs the question of whether to wine and dine, do dinner and a movie or save money by skipping the preamble entirely; ordering delivery and having some sex already. Whatever the meal plan, itâÄôs best to err on the side of taking âÄôer easy. An evening where your date can lean in and whisper those three magical words youâÄôve been waiting to hear all night long, âÄúSplit check, please?âÄù

Six months

YouâÄôve made it through two seasons, an entire academic semester and, if a womanâÄôs involved, six menstrual periods. The half-year mark is where you might start to eye the candy and flowers with a little more interest. In all likelihood, ValentineâÄôs Day might mean youâÄôre in for a candlelit, totally arousing âÄúdefine the relationshipâÄù discussion followed by tender lovemaking. ItâÄôs also a nice time to break out the name-brand condoms.

One to two years

This may be the first or second time youâÄôve made an affectionate gesture toward a loved one on an arbitrarily selected date. Having your first ValentineâÄôs Day after a year of dating sets the stakes a bit higher. ThereâÄôs bound to be awkward laughter while together you make fumbling attempts at scripted romance.

The second ValentineâÄôs Day together can be a time to kick it down a notch. A little seasoned in the ways of the dayâÄôs routine, you can spend the evening reminiscing about your first ValentineâÄôs. YouâÄôll hold each other tightly as if for the second time, tilt your heads back and laugh with abandon. Oh, how young and naive you were back then.

Three years or more

This is really the time where youâÄôve probably already given all youâÄôve had to offer in the way of ValentineâÄôs Day dates. Once you make it past three years, feel free to lie back in some matching sweats and flip through TV Guide to see whatâÄôs playing on Showtime. You can end the night by looking deep into each otherâÄôs eyes to say, âÄúSo, we going to get married or what?âÄù However, make sure to throw in a nice date every couple of years just to keep things interesting.