man with heart

(Note: A version of this article originally appeared on Alexander & James, where it was up before Valentine’s Day)

Though the 14th of February is just one day, its effects resonate throughout February and beyond. But it’s not really an all-inclusive holiday – it is aimed at couples. Full stop. But due to its ubiquity, all must reckon with it.

And there are really just two ways to do so: succumb to its power and make ostentatious romantic gestures to your significant other, or thumb your nose at it with a group of like-minded friends. Alas, in the former all gestures are tainted with a sense of obligation, and in the latter the group doth protest too much, methinks.

Though the Holy Grail of Valentine’s Day will always be ‘a date’, there must surely be better ways to have one.


And with a swipe of your finger, there is. Tindering your way to ‘love’ is a popular choice, with its easy interface and ever-present promise. But competition (and desperation) increase as Valentine’s Day approaches, so this season is a good time to explore alternatives.

The Virtual Boyfriend or Virtual girlfriend app, (available on Android and Apple – sorry Blackberry/Windows Phone users), allows people to virtually interact with someone who will love them unconditionally. Unfortunately, you must be constantly attentive, and don’t expect much in the way of reciprocation.

If that still sounds too much like ‘relationship work’, try the Imaginary Girlfriend app, which inserts conventionally beautiful women into your photos. Just leave some space in your selfies and fill in the blanks later. The results aren’t so realistic, but so long as you and your imaginary girlfriend are happy, who cares what other people say?


Perhaps spending Valentine’s Day staring at your phone doesn’t sound like the fulfilment you seek. In that case, you can always try taking out a ‘Lonely Hearts’ personal ad. But beware: it’ll be hard to differentiate yourself in this field, which is full of subtle and heartfelt works of minor genius. The London Review of Books, considered the gold standard of Lonely Hearts ads, has published not one, but two well-regarded collections of their single ads, They Call Me Naughty Lola and Sexually, I’m more of a Switzerland.

If you don’t have time to wait for a response that may or may not be forthcoming, just take the direct approach and attend a Lonely Hearts Club Party. These occasions for singles to get together and make subtle efforts to shed themselves of their singledom are now a Valentine’s Day staple. If nobody you know is throwing one, do it yourself. Grab some cocktail ingredients, send out some invites, and get ready to both mix and mingle.


However, if none of the above methods for finding a date put the petrol in your tank, there’s an easy option: expand your idea of what ‘finding a date’ means. Specifically, expand it to include time spent by yourself. Think of it as an opportunity to do something memorable with a very special someone. You.

Then plan something nice for you and yourself to do together this February (perhaps the evening of the 14th?). It might simply be a trip to the movies or the zoo, an evening in with a homecooked meal, or something more elaborate. Just make sure it’s something you’re absolutely certain that this person will enjoy. They’ve probably dropped hints, so it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.

One final thing: don’t show up for this date empty-handed. This relationship could very easily bloom into a long-lasting one. So seize the occasion to really show you’re ready to get serious. That means getting a thoughtful, and possibly even extravagant, gift.

You’re worth it.