Updated: March 15, 2014 6:08AM
Valentine’s Day means many different things to many different people, from the hopeless romantics to the bitterly betrayed.
So this year, your friendly neighborhood columnist has something for everyone. Gift ideas? Check. Historical background? Check. How to catch a cheating partner? Check. Workplace etiquette tips? Check. Relationship-saving advice? Check (and, uh, mate).
First things first
Regardless of how you feel about Valentine’s Day, today is a good day to remember that relationships are not about Cupid, but about couplehood. They’re not about competing, but compromising. They’re not about the wedding, but the marriage. And they’re certainly not about scrambling for an obligatory gift on this symbolic day.
Today, of all days on the calendar, saying you love someone means nothing. Today, love is a verb, not a noun. Today, you have to show it.
U.S. Census survey says ...
The median age at first marriage for men and women is 29 years old and 26 years old, respectively.
The overall percentage of Americans who reported being married is 53 percent.
The number of marriages that take place on any given day is 5,800, and the median length of first marriages that end in divorce is eight years.
Love on the rocks?
Researchers found that watching five movies a month — each with relationships as their primary focus — can help couples get through rough times and possibly avoid divorce.
Whether it’s “Love Story,” “Nine Months” or “On Golden Pond,” such films can replace or complement counseling because many couples need reminders how to properly use their relationship skills. Some are dusty, others have never been used at all.
Background check needed?
On this Valentine’s Day, do you really know your date?
According to background checking website DirtSearch.org, there is good reason to be paranoid. As cases of identity fraud grow, you can never be too careful about making sure your date, mate or potential spouse is who they say they are.
There’s an app for that
Here are a few popular smart phone apps to get you through this holiday.
“The Love Book” offers the finest prose and poetry for only $2.99.
“Date Escape” will call or text you during a date gone sour, giving you an immediate exit strategy for only 99 cents.
“Kindu: Sex Ideas for Couples” asks direct questions about fantasies, role games and more for only $1.99.
“Gravy” takes your email, ZIP code and preferences and tells you what’s happening, how much it costs and how to get there, for free.
Quirky gift ideas
Roses are red, violets are ... boring.
Instead of the usual cookie-cutter cliché gift, instead show off your quirky flair by using this cool site, RedBubble.com, a print-on-demand e-marketplace for edgy, independent artwork from across the globe.
Are you suspicious that your spouse is cheating on you?
Today is the perfect day to find him or her out, considering they will feel compelled to show their lust, love or affection for their new lover. However, if your significant other shows a few of these warning signs, an affair may be a reality.
Lack of interest in sex; hides cellphone bill or doesn’t allow you to see it; suddenly interested in image or appearance; excessive Internet use; “lost” wedding ring; new interest in old friends; repeatedly accuses YOU of cheating; unaccountable time; and starts petty arguments to leave the house.
Avoid ‘relationship wreckers’
“Relationships often collapse because couples are not prepared to withstand the inevitable conflicts or even the humdrum and monotonous plateau period,” said Jacqueline Del Rosario, “America’s Relationship Doctor.”
“But many people don’t realize that their health and happiness is under their own control,” said Del Rosario, who has identified “relationship wreckers.” These include: Not continuing to grow, not knowing your relationship anchors, not addressing unmet expectations and allowing outside interference.
For new lovers
Experts insist that new lovers should resist coming on too strong today, which could backfire in the long run. Avoid “commitment gifts,” such as jewelry or watches, which can add undue pressure to a new relationship. Also, resist going big with your dinner plans or signs of affection, keeping in mind that a small gesture may be just right.
For too many people, Valentine’s Day is just another reminder that they haven’t found their soulmate, or any mate for that matter. This may explain the rise in popularity of “Singles Awareness Day” on Feb. 15 each year.
“This is the day that all of the single people can proudly stand up and show that it is OK to be single,” states www.singlesawareness.com. “The goal of Singles Awareness Day is to let singles have celebrations, get-togethers, etc., and to exchange gifts with their single friends. The awareness day was established by single people who were just sick of feeling left out on Valentine’s Day.”
There, take THAT, Cupid.
‘The Last Kiss’
I’ll leave you with a timely and timeless line from the film “The Last Kiss,” told to a young man who claims he loves an older man’s daughter. “What you feel only matters to you,” the older man sternly tells the young lover. “It’s what you do to the people you say you love, that’s what matters. It’s the only thing that counts.”
But wait, there’s more
On today’s Casual Fridays radio show, I’ll offer more Valentine’s Day tips, insights and gift ideas. Tune in at noon at 89.1-FM, streaming at www.lakeshorepublicmedia.org.