What’s a nice cliché like you doing in a pick-up line like this?

Hope she doesn't notice I stole them from her garden…

If you’re practising your ice-breakers for Valentine’s Day, sexperts suggest a quirky quip makes the best first impression. But it needs to be original, which rules out “You’re so sweet you’re giving me a toothache”, “If I said you had a good body would you hold it against me?” and “Don’t walk into that building because the sprinklers might go off”.

One of the most famous lines about love, if not advisable as a pick-up line, is “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”.

If Tennyson tweeted that I would probably follow him, though I’m still not sure whether I fully agree. Some would. Others wouldn’t. I suppose it depends how much you lost. But the crux of the quote is clear: when you fall in love you enter life’s casino.

But you don’t have to be 18 to gamble on love.

When you’re at school, rubber in both wallet and pencil case, Valentine’s Day is an anonymous chance to “confess” your love for someone, if you’re old enough to know what love is.

At that age you barely have an inkling that what starts with chocolates can end in alimony. As the saying goes: “Love is grand. Divorce is a hundred grand.” But the double edge of the sword is a long way off. Right now you just want to see him or her naked. To peel the apple of your eye. So you pen poems, purchase flowers, squeeze pimples and perhaps even recruit a cuddly toy to do the work of cupid.

At least, that used to be the way. These days there’s probably an emoticon.

One hundred years later, married with 1.9 children, Valentine’s Day is more like a table for two by the window, provided you can find a babysitter. Rather than pick your Valentine up, as it were, you depart the mortgaged house together and elbow romance out of the way early by discussing the broken fly screen or little Johnny’s report card. Sure, she’s wearing kinky knickers.

But why is she telling you the bloody lawn needs mowing? Unless it’s a euphemism.

These dollar days, most people cynically dismiss celebrations such as Valentine’s Day as commercial constructs. And yes, February 14 makes florists pots of money. But some people like it when the shops remind them it’s time to treat their other halves. If only they’d do the same for birthdays and anniversaries. The dog kennel is so uncomfortable.

The way people celebrate Valentine’s Day is pretty much standard the world over. There are few variations on the amorous theme of chockies, flowers, sustenance… and then “back to mine” to test the strength of the springs.

The only variation I’ve heard of is in Scotland, where “the search of the Valentine date” decrees that the first person you see on February 14 becomes your Valentine. Garbage collectors have never had it so good.

Love has many moods and is the human body’s strongest emotion. (Apart from its opposite, but there’s no room for hate on Valentine’s Day.) Few people go through life without having a soft spot for someone. And even fewer people go through life without having a soft spot for soft spots.

Marriage has traditionally been seen as love’s sublimation, yet some governments still seek to dictate who can and can’t love each other, at least on paper. This gets the humorists delivering the old chestnut: why shouldn’t gay people be unhappy as well?

On a flight from Sydney to a destination I can’t remember (which might sum up some people’s marriages) the captain came on the blower and said: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have newlyweds on board who are heading off on their honeymoon. On behalf of myself and the rest of the crew I would like to wish them every success in their life together. I hope they’re as happy as I thought I was going to be.”

One in three marriages ends in divorce, which sounds like a depressing statistic until you smash that half empty glass and realise that means the majority succeed. Marriage has its ups and downs. Sure, the ins and outs become less frequent. But there’s more to love than sex. Apparently.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEDST

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    • Cupid says:

      06:07am | 14/02/13

      Scientists have apparently determined exactly what it is that causes a woman’s sex drive to decline. The clever labcoat-wearing boffins have narrowed it down to one particular foodstuff: wedding cake smile
      Happy Commercial Cliche Day everyone…

    • Rose says:

      08:40am | 14/02/13

      or…...it could be her partner’s lack of technique smile

    • Kika says:

      09:27am | 14/02/13

      And repertoire!  Hahaha

    • Rose says:

      09:52am | 14/02/13

      and effort smile

    • Tubesteak says:

      10:36am | 14/02/13

      Rose
      If all she’s doing is lie there then it’s not *his* technique that’s the problem. It’s all her. There’s no such thing as bad sex when you get on top.

      OT:
      In Japan, according to an article in yesterday’s SMH, it’s the women who do all the stuff on Valentine’s Day.

    • Rose says:

      11:13am | 14/02/13

      Tube…we can play this game all day, but seriously, if the sex is that bad then the sex is the least of your problems!!

    • Kika says:

      11:22am | 14/02/13

      Tubesteak - That’s because they have to put in extra effort to keep their salarymen from going to the pub and consorting with the women on offer that night.

      Tubesteak, you sad sad thing. Aussie blokes, from my personal experience, are rather boring in bed too. It takes 2 to tango but if you guys just keep doing the same thing everytime… Boring.

    • Breezy says:

      12:15pm | 14/02/13

      Tubesteak
      “There’s no such thing as bad sex when you get on top.”

      Oh yes, there is. It’s called premature ejaculation!

    • Modern primitive says:

      12:36pm | 14/02/13

      How much experience have you had with aussie blokes, kika?

    • MOdern primitive says:

      12:48pm | 14/02/13

      Hey Breezy, you know there’s a spray for that now?

    • Kika says:

      02:16pm | 14/02/13

      Modern Primitive - I’m too much of a lady to answer that!

    • Modern Primtive says:

      02:36pm | 14/02/13

      Maybe you need to teach the blokes what you gals like in bed? I know this is a common thing, but we aren’t actually mind readers and can’t pick up on what you want through osmosis. Men don’t have female intuition, complaining about dud roots is primarily your fault if you don’t communicate what you want.

    • acotrel says:

      06:15am | 14/02/13

      Perhaps we should all get our minds above our navels and recognise that if we really love someone, sex is a bonus and not a reason in itself for being with that person ?

    • Pattem says:

      02:18pm | 14/02/13

      @Acotrel, you stated: “sex is a bonus and not a reason in itself for being with that person”.

      Why hasn’t anyone given you a +1 for that?  Here you go!

      +1

    • DC says:

      04:02pm | 14/02/13

      Hooray for acotrel & co!

      Let the haters hate and the acotrels of the world get on with true happiness.

    • acotrel says:

      04:32pm | 14/02/13

      The sad thing is that it seems we all must do a few laps of the circuit before we know our way around.  We could do this stuff better if we educated our kids about relationships instead of relying on ‘monkey see , monkey do’.

    • Fiddler says:

      06:17am | 14/02/13

      “There’s more to love than sex?”

      Not to us blokes there isn’t. To us a relationship is a constant weighing up of how good the sex is versus putting up with her moods and drama in consultation with what is out there that is hotter and how much of our assets we will lose if we break up.

      True story

    • TChong says:

      09:27am | 14/02/13

      Thats a sad story Fiddler.
      Dont know about how universal that experience is.
      My dear wife and I have been together since younguns , nearly 30 ya,  2 kids, plenty of life lived, shared together, could nt be happier, and never experienced the constant weighing of alternatives that the story suggests.
      An element of luck of finding the right person may be part of what holds a relationship.

    • Cupid says:

      10:02am | 14/02/13

      ‘Shallow Hal’ would be proud to call you bro!

    • egg says:

      10:11am | 14/02/13

      @Fiddler, I doubt you’re likely to find a woman who appreciates basically being called a walking vagina, even if you tell her she’s the best of what you’ve found so far. You might want to adjust your attitude before you start bagging out others.

    • Jim Moriarty says:

      10:12am | 14/02/13

      Dump her then?

      I don’t think that’s the case for most people., though.

    • Modern Primitive says:

      11:44am | 14/02/13

      Truth, Fiddler.

    • Ohcomeon says:

      12:27pm | 14/02/13

      Try going out with smart women, instead of good looking morons then.

      But if youre anything like my constantly unhappy male friends, this isnt an option for you.

    • Fiddler says:

      01:08pm | 14/02/13

      Sorry, I should re-phrase this. For those men who are able to function without having our noses wiped this is what it is.

      @Jim, happily single with no lack of affection

    • TChong says:

      06:31am | 14/02/13

      Sorry to be a killjoy,  Punchers, but the old ST Valentines day can be a pretty sad day, specially for those who have lost their lifes love . ( death, separation )
      I am a fan of the chockies and flowers, but please remember that for some of the gals or guys who dont get the flowers , musical cards etc, its not that they arent loved,or that they are unlovable losers, but because they have lost the love of their life.

    • Mahhrat says:

      06:42am | 14/02/13

      I got a new set of cufflinks.  This is awesome, because now I own two sets (and the other set says “Groomsmen” and were from my bruv’s wedding.

      Of course, now I need a shirt to put them on because we’re getting married in a few weeks.

    • Bitten says:

      09:22am | 14/02/13

      Congrats and best wishes Mahhrat - cufflinks = awesome.

      I got the main man his favourite caramel popcorn in a little gift box - going to drop it into his work a bit later today smile

      Also one of my single girlfriends is working her tail off on a major project for a client this week, so she’ll probably be in the office until midnight - going to send her down a nice rose and card to remind her I’m thinking of her smile

    • NSS says:

      12:48pm | 14/02/13

      Congrats from me too, Mahrat.

      I hope you and your intended enjoy a happy and fulfilling married life together.

      My house is looking like a florist’s shop with the gorgeous flowers and attatched love notes we ladies have already received. My daughters and I all have romantic men in our lives. Feeling blessed.

    • JTO says:

      02:03pm | 14/02/13

      Congrats Mahhrat, you’ll finally have that last pair of shoes that every man must have: The pair of black leather shoes that you got married in.

    • KJ says:

      03:13pm | 14/02/13

      JTO, when I read your first sentence I was think you meant the sonn to be wife’s shoes.  I was going to suggest that would be the ‘final 200 pairs of shoes’

    • Mouse says:

      07:19am | 14/02/13

      I thought Valentine’s Day was supposed to be all about “secret” admirers, not for spouses or currents loves. . The already committed have anniversaries and the such, already.  Valentine’s Day is about that one person who worships you from afar, who is in the shadows, just out of peripheral range, who sends you that lovely card that professes their undying love and affection.  Isn’t it supposed to be about all that magical mystery stuff? Commercialism is such a drag!!  Ho hum….lol   :o)

    • Zeta says:

      09:33am | 14/02/13

      But we’ve got Bang With Friends for that now.

    • fgo says:

      10:10am | 14/02/13

      #Mouse,
      “I thought Valentine’s Day was supposed to be all about “secret” admirers, not for spouses or currents loves”
      Will you be my punch for today?
      btw, Do you think Tony sent Julia anything? and did Wayne send Joe an anonymous memo on how to run a great economy.

    • in the bushes says:

      12:53pm | 14/02/13

      Ahh love that can’t be reastrained by an order….

    • Meph says:

      01:05pm | 14/02/13

      @Mouse

      That’s a little like all these bonuses for signing up to a new health fund and promoting constant churn. Us long-timers don’t get any love too? raspberry

    • Mouse says:

      05:17pm | 14/02/13

      Awww he’s gorgeous! Not sure how he’d go with my girls though, they are pretty protective and very jealous! Not as big as him, of course, but they’d outweigh him with numbers.  lol :o)

    • gof says:

      07:22am | 14/02/13

      The opposition leader yelled out across the room at an important diplomatic function to his shadow treasurer..“Hey Joey, Do you like whales?”, the shadow treasurer a little taken aback due to his immense frame replied “Yeah, sure Tone, why?” , the opposition leader yelled back “because there’s a humpback at my place!”

    • Roxanne says:

      07:29am | 14/02/13

      Not at all sure what this story was about. Seems to me somebody didn’t get a chocolate or a kiss??  Anyway, I walked in to work to find a box of chocolates on my desk, with a lovely card.  It was anonymous, but if I work the clues in the poem out I should be able to figure out who sent it.  Hmmm (puts on Sherlock Holmes hat and lights pipe ***cough***).  Happy Valentine’s to you all, hope you have some romance.

    • NigelC says:

      09:07am | 14/02/13

      Nice story, that seems to be precisely what Valentine’s Day is all about. Hope you find your anonymous admirer.

    • Kika says:

      09:30am | 14/02/13

      Oh Roxanne… Roxanne Roxanne…. Valentines Day is for you people looking for love, or in a new love. For us married people it’s all a little ho hum…YOu should showing your wife/husband/partner you love them everyday, not just on one commercial day of the year.

    • Roxanne says:

      10:26am | 14/02/13

      Thanks for the feedback guys.  Kika, that was my point actually.  I always assumed Valentine’s is for singles.  People in relationships have anniversarys etc.  Anyway, whatever, I am happily munching and I have narrowed it down to 2.  Hmmmm, could be fun!

    • Audra Blue says:

      02:36pm | 14/02/13

      I’m newly single and haven’t received anything.

      Good thing I decided to give up on the idea of romance.  Give me a great cup of coffee and a new DVD to watch any day!

    • Al says:

      07:42am | 14/02/13

      “Marriage has traditionally been seen as love’s sublimation…”
      Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘traditionally’ as for many Australians who decend from other countries (the vast majority) marriage was tarditionally a means to control inheritence, with only the legitmate children of married people being permitted to inherit, or to seal agreements and/or treatys. It was actualy rare for the people getting married to be involved in the selection of who they married. Marriages for money, paying of debts etc were also not uncommon.
      I am not sure if Aboriginal peoples had an equivelent type of joining?
      Marrying soleley on the basis of romantic feelings is a relatively (historicly speaking) recent phenomena, not the traditional meaning.

    • Steve says:

      07:42am | 14/02/13

      Spare a thought for those people today who DON’T have someone special in their lives, perhaps through separation, loss or “just not found someone yet” and maybe feel miserable today with constant reminders of “how many cards did you get” and “which girl can get the most flowers sent to her”. 

      Office girls are the worst - trying to do outdo each other as to who got the most (and it’s _got_ to be sent to the office to “qualify”....relax Jack !)

    • SAm says:

      07:44am | 14/02/13

      Wifes not getting flowers or any of that crap from me. Right from the start I said I didnt believe in this stupid day so she knows what shes in for. Better to just randomly, on any day in the year, do something nice. I hate the obligations that come with today so screw it.
      I know that sounds bitter but I just dont even give it a second thought, why force romance?

    • JTO says:

      11:17am | 14/02/13

      You’ve put yourself in a winning position here SAm. I took the same stance at the beginning, so when I did start observing the day my wife was absolutely sure that I was doing it out of love, not out of obligation.

      Now you can choose to go home with a completely unexpected gift which is the best kind. Of course if you’re not the romantic types, that may no go down so well. Each to their own.

    • Mz says:

      12:45pm | 14/02/13

      For many women, saying ‘You don’t need to worry about that stuff’ means ‘I’ll be very annoyed with you if you don’t put in a real good effort and get me something good this year.’

    • Jim Moriarty says:

      08:18am | 14/02/13

      I bought my partner a card and some high end chocolates. Might get him some nice whiskey on the way home.

      The one time I bought him flowers was met with, “I’m not a bloody woman, Jim.”

      That said, I do expect to be throughly satisfied in the bedroom tonight.

    • Dale Winnings says:

      08:26am | 14/02/13

      Modern Valentines Day is a vile day engineered specifically to guilt trip couples (especially men) and to make single people feel like shit. A byproduct is that it trivialises the very real but often bastardised and misunderstood emotion of “love” and gives other couples excuses to disrespect their partners throughout the rest of the year.

    • Ridge says:

      08:47am | 14/02/13

      I’d wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day, but feminists have been really particular to choose this, of all days, for their 1billionrising campaign.

      Y’know, I just don’t feel so romantic on a day when the sisterhood is joining hands and singing around a campfire about how violent I am, because I’m a man.

    • Kika says:

      09:36am | 14/02/13

      You better get some industrial strength spack filler for that chip you’ve got on your shoulder…

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      10:57am | 14/02/13

      1billion what?  Are they complaining about something again?

    • Borderer says:

      09:00am | 14/02/13

      Happy “Put the Florist’s kid through Uni day”

      I got my wife flowers earlier in the week, not because I’m cheap, they still charge the same, but because so many flowers are sent on Valentines day you can end up paying a fortune for some rather ratty looking bouquets. Same goes for restaurant bookings, the day before is going to be less crowded and you’ll get better service. I don’t think it’s very romantic to pay a fortune for crappy looking flowers and go to an overcrowded restaurant to be ignored by overworked waitstaff.
      Still do everything you want to, just change the date, any woman who kicks up a stink because you’re not doing it on “the day” is obviously crazy, weigh up the hot v’s crazy and deal with appropriately.

    • Bitten says:

      09:25am | 14/02/13

      I rarely order flowers over the phone - much prefer to select them myself in the store.

      Not that you can’t get a nicely done bouquet over the phone/internet, but it’s just more likely to look great if you stand there while they put it together.

    • Pattem says:

      02:13pm | 14/02/13

      @Borderer; you stated: “weigh up the hot v’s crazy and deal with appropriately”

      And if the HOT and the CRAZY are both 9/10?

      I think that’s where an interesting night starts…

    • Joan Bennett says:

      09:33am | 14/02/13

      “One in three marriages ends in divorce, which sounds like a depressing statistic until you smash that half empty glass and realise that means the majority succeed.”  No, that just means that the majority can’t admit they made a mistake.  Marriage was invented to pass ownership of the woman from her Father to her husband – that’s why women traditionally took the man’s name upon marriage.  It’s ridiculous to try and predict if you will stay with someone till death do us part – you’d have better luck guessing the X lotto numbers…  Much better to live with someone who treats you with respect every day of the year and doesn’t just make some materialistic gesture on 14 February…

    • Rose says:

      09:58am | 14/02/13

      Give you the tip Joan Bennett, I know ABSOLUTELY that death is the only thing that will end my marriage. I also know that my marriage is not, never has been and never will be, a mistake.
      Just because things haven’t worked out for you it doesn’t mean that rest of us are suffering the same problems.

    • marley says:

      01:17pm | 14/02/13

      “Much better to live with someone who treats you with respect every day of the year and doesn’t just make some materialistic gesture on 14 February”

      Why should one have to choose?  Being treated with respect and getting some gesture of love, materialistic or not, are not mutually exclusive.

    • Jim Moriarty says:

      09:34am | 14/02/13

      Got the man high end chocolates and a card. He was quite happy with that.

    • gof says:

      10:29am | 14/02/13

      The other evening I was putting my smooth charms into affect on a young lady. As the evening progressed we realised that we had a lot in common, we both agreed upon the progressive policies of the ALP, that Wayne Swan is the messiah of the worlds treasury’s etc.. the only stall in conversation occurred we started discussing LNP policy, we both giggled into our wines aware that it was not us but them that left us speechless. As the end of the evening drew nigh this delectable little rose stared cheekily into my green eyes and whispered “Do you know how I like my eggs in the morning?”, with a concerned look with this lovelies forwardness, I whisper back “unfertilised I hope!”

    • Baloo says:

      11:18am | 14/02/13

      This is damn creepy gof.

    • gof says:

      11:36am | 14/02/13

      #Baloo,
      She was.

    • Meph says:

      01:15pm | 14/02/13

      @gof

      Let me guess, she’s a redhead?

    • Modern Primitive says:

      11:47am | 14/02/13

      1 in 3 huh? Not very good odds if you ask me.

    • Kerryn says:

      01:50pm | 14/02/13

      Meh, I’ll probably buy something nice for my family (I happen to love my family, I don’t see why I shouldn’t give them something for Valentines).  Plus I get to see my stalkee…er, crush, tomorrow at a function so it should be good.

      Otherwise, I have had the worst day ever.  Loaded pallets falling to bits everywhere, burnt hands, flat tyres…yeah.

    • Katie says:

      04:17pm | 14/02/13

      I got my first valentine ever today from my fiance. His reasoning? He had a present coming for me anyway and it just happened to be delivered today.

      Same with my present for him. Vintage video game, just happened to come in the mail yesterday.

      Moral of the story: Valentine’s day is fine if you’re dating, I guess? If you’re with someone longterm, however, don’t just wait for a ‘special’ day to buy them things. Unexpected presents are the best.

    • the cynic says:

      06:16pm | 14/02/13

      The mistress always goes for Valentines day the wife couldn’t give a rats then again she doesn’t give it anytime of the year.

 

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