Welcome to Down to Find Out, a column in which Nona Willis Aronowitz addresses your biggest questions about sex, dating, relationships, and all the gray areas in between. Have a question for Nona? Send it to email@example.com or fill out this Google form. (It’s anonymous!)
Ohhh, Valentine’s Day. At its best, it can be a great excuse to show love to your boo, your friends, or yourself. It can also be a pressure-cooker of a holiday, with societal messages telling you to couple up, buy stuff, conform to gender norms…the minefields are many. And that’s during normal times. It’s even more complicated during a pandemic in winter, when everything is closed and we’re trying to limit our physical contact — all while many of us need more love, comfort, and connection than ever. When I think back, my best Valentine’s Days have been spent out in the world: ice skating or an epic meal with my partner, belting out Whitney Houston at karaoke with my crew, escaping upstate by myself when I just couldn’t handle the pressure. All that’s impossible now.
On one hand, it’s a great year to just block out the noise and say “Screw it — I’m watching Netflix in my sweats until the clock strikes February 15.” But if you do want to celebrate V-Day safely and sweetly, here are a few date ideas.
If you’re single with no romance in sight
There are two options here: Improve upon that Netflix-and-sweats night I just described, or make this day all about platonic love. Both are totally valid options.
If you want to be alone, there are lots of ways to inject yet another solo COVID night with more intention and what wellness sites would call “self-love”— which, in this case, can just mean spending time being nice to yourself. Clear your schedule and ignore your phone (even just for an hour). Order or cook an extremely delicious meal rather than eating leftovers. Do little things to relax yourself: make your bed with fresh sheets, take a long-ass shower, listen to some tunes or ASMR. While you’re at it, pay extra attention to your body, especially if you’ve been experiencing “skin hunger,” also known as touch deprivation. Massage yourself or rub in your favorite lotion. V-Day is also a great time to explore yourself sexually, just sayin’. Your safest sex partner is still yourself after all these months!
The other option is to plan a hang with your friends. I hesitate to call this “Galentine’s Day,” because friends of all genders can apply (and also that phrase is corny, imho). Let’s just call it a day to appreciate the non-sexual, non-romantic loves in your life. Bundle up and plan an outdoor socially distanced hang, or arrange a Zoom if your friends are farflung. Make it a little ritualistic: play a game, make a toast, watch the same movie and have a group chat during it, go around in a circle and shower each other with compliments. It’s not the same, but even seeing your friends’ faces can help remind you why you adore them.
If you have a crush, but you haven’t met IRL yet
You know what I’m going to say: If you don’t live with your partner or aren’t exclusively dating, it’s probably not the best idea to meet up with the dating-app match you’ve been chatting with for the last couple of weeks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bit of digital romance. That can mean putting on a cute outfit and cooking the same thing on video chat (or ordering each other a surprise takeout meal). Go to the prettiest outdoor place you can find and FaceTime each other when you’re there, even if it’s just for a few minutes in the snow. Make a joint playlist and have a little dance party in front of the camera. COVID has meant being a little creative, and let’s be real, also being more open to previously cheesy or embarrassing activities.