Ask a fifth-year: Can My Pet Goldfish Be My Valentine?

 Dear Sarah,

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be all rainbows and puppies and cupcakes and roses but gosh darn it, the whole day just makes me sad. And not sad in the way that makes me want to drink a bottle of wine and marathon all the bad romantic movies on Lifetime, but sad in the way that makes me wish I was having Cosmopolitan cover girl worthy sex with someone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awfully sweet that my Aunt Gertrude always sends me a card in the mail, but the media keeps making me think I should be doing something more with my Feb. 14. Help a girl out and tell me how to have the least sappy Valentine’s Day OF ALL TIME.

—Sad Solitary Single Gal

Dear Single Gal,

Don’t ever marathon Lifetime, unless it’s a Project Runway or a Sex in the City marathon. Those movies are so unbelievably not worth your time. And who ever said Valentine’s Day was reserved for sexual relationships only? Why can’t you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your best friend, or your Aunt Gertrude or even just yourself?

That’s one of the funniest things about the English language. We use the word “love” so many times throughout the day—I love this class, I love the weather, I love my dog or I love my skateboard—and yet we put such emphasis on having one specific romantic partner. But having that one specific romantic partner is more important on Feb. 14 than on any other day of the year.

Have you ever thought about treating yourself for Valentine’s Day? You, yes you, could be your very own date for the evening. Go to the spa—it’s reading period after all, I’m sure you could use the rest and the pampering. As long as your wallet is up for it, treat yourself to a little retail therapy. Most stores have released their spring lines by now, you could be featuring the height of warm weather fashion before there’s any warm weather to celebrate. Take yourself out to the movies! There is nothing stopping you from seeing a movie all by yourself. I can’t in good conscience recommend Fifty Shades of Grey, but there’s still a smattering of Oscar bait films in theaters.

If you really can’t bear the thought of being alone, here’s my suggestion for how to have the most original and exciting Valentine’s Day OF ALL TIME. Find one person you love and find one thing you would love to do with them. You could paint pottery with your sister. You could go out to dinner with friends and sample the restaurant’s home-brewed beers. You could Skype your best friend who’s studying abroad. You could have mind-blowingly crazy sex with your significant other.

Don’t put yourself in the Hallmark box that says you must celebrate Valentine’s Day with a romantic partner. There are lots of different kinds of love in this world. Take this opportunity to tell someone what they mean to you. That person could be your pet goldfish, a friend you get coffee with once a week or a professor who wrote you a stellar recommendation letter for grad school. They might even be Aunt Gertrude. You should probably call her and tell her you got her card in the mail. It would probably make her Valentine’s Day to get a phone call from her most beloved Single Gal niece.

Send your questions to and have them answered by Sarah, a double-degree student in her fifth year at Lawrence University.