"I don't care about Valentine's Day. Please don't get me anything," the person you've been most recently entertaining texts you the day before February 14th. "What does that mean? I don't even know what his middle name is!" You confide in your friends. They're at a loss too because the holiday that is sold as the romantic day of the year tends to actually be the most confusing. No matter, it means that this individual—this individual that you think is cute, but you may barely know—associates you with the high-pressured 24 hours.
Good news: 65 years later, Playboy has learned a few things about maintaining even the lightest, least serious (most sexual?) levels of romance. Here are your options, dependent on the level of commitment you're ready for:
Choose something like Glass, but let the M. Night Shyamalan twist to your Valentine’s Day plans be that you’re not ready for any type of serious commitment. You barely could commit to seeing this film—that’s why you didn’t buy tickets beforehand. If you’re not a big Shyamalan fan, choose something else. But whatever you do settle on, don’t pick a romantic drama—you don’t want them to get any ideas. And don’t take them to a rom-com either. Anyone who agrees to see a romantic comedy on Valentine’s Day is basically saying they’re ready to parent children.
Bonus: If you can, pick a flick that sounds like it’ll be romantic but isn’t. They won’t know until it’s too late that Miss Bala is an action film if you play dumb. What gets across “I like you, but not that much” more than a drug cartel movie starring a strong female lead? Nothing. Especially if you say, “Oh, wow, I thought that was going to be about dancing, but I’m sure glad it wasn’t” afterwards.
The two main benefits of Valentine’s Day at the bowling alley are beer and The Big Lebowski jokes. Get a pitcher, take it straight to your lane and if your date says this is the worst Valentine’s Day ever, you can reply, “Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.” Maybe even blame it on the beer?
Bonus: It only helps if the bowling alley you take them to is having a Valentine’s Day theme night. That way, you can say you called ahead to make sure there’d be “hearts and junk.” They’ll know you’re thoughtful but not too thoughtful. If you hate bowling, replace bowling with skee-ball and The Big Lebowski quotes with bits from whichever Kevin Smith flick is your favorite.
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Nothing says “I’m not seeing anyone else, but that doesn’t mean much” or “I value you as a partner, but not enough to pop the question” quite like taking your date to your job’s anti-Valentine’s Day drink night. Your single coworkers will look at you in confusion and whisper, “If you had someone to spend Valentine’s Day with, why didn’t you do something else instead of this?” which is exactly what you want your date to think too. Your Valentine will see meeting your single work buddies as a necessary, if oddly-timed, experience.
Bonus: Your coworkers may never invite you out for drinks again.
Do a Double-Date
How do you tell someone you're not convinced of your future with only them in it without using any words? Have another couple meet you for dinner. And if you’re avoiding a proposal, it might help to invite long-married relatives who hate each other. They’ll serve as the right level of foreboding to chase thoughts of marriage out of your partner's head.
Bonus: Spend quality time with Aunt Nancy and Uncle Joe while learning about their plans for divorce before any other members of your family.
Ignore It Entirely
Treat the day just like any other day of the year. Anyway, it’s less of a big deal than President’s Day since you still had to go to work. On top of that, flowers are just dead things—you’re basically paying for pretty corpses and thrusting them on your girlfriend or casual fling to dispose of. If you don't know the person you're dating that well, for all you know, they could be allergic to chocolate. After all, your lover told you "Please don't do anything." The fact that you're not a mind reader could be a great argument if they retaliate. And if they're not into your defense? Next!