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Diana Bianchini Headshot

Upsize Love

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Valentine's Day. Since December, stores have been gearing up for it. Love is big business. But are people buying romance these days?

It's impossible to ignore love and the manufactured pressure of fulfilling expectations as this special day fast approaches. I recently spoke with several friends -- male and female -- about their attempts to date during the Great Recession. Most say it's a nightmare. Their hopes for romance are tanking along with the economy.

Why have we made dating such a nightmare?

In the age of Facebook and self-congratulatory ideals, many people aren't saying what they mean or meaning what they say. We are hiding behind our computer screens and pretending to connect with others. Sure, we can blame the internet for allowing us to stay in the digital world and not come out to play offline. But let's be honest: We really need to blame ourselves. Life is a contact sport, and we're opting out of the game through technology.

It is great to meet online, but we must be able to speak on the phone, go on a date in the real world and spend time looking into each other's eyes in person, not on Skype. Don't you want to? Technology is causing us to lose our social skills. An overwhelming majority of my friends have dating horror stories, filled with bad manners and cloddish moments.

Where are your manners? I am beginning to think dating etiquette has gotten lost in the land of "hook ups," "hang outs," and digital escape. I am no expert, but here are some friendly reminders before you embark on your next date. When out with a special guy or gal, think before you speak, pay compliments, pay attention and be present. These are things we already know, so I am not sure what has happened to us. In an effort to not waste anyone's time and be respectful, please be honest and have the courage to be direct.

Some phrases to eliminate from your dating vocabulary:

  • "I'm so busy." What you're really saying is: "I'm too busy for you." Everyone knows what this means. So come on, be an adult and say, "Thanks, but no thanks."
  • "I'm swamped with work." Similar to "I'm so busy," but here's the twist: This excuse leaves wiggle room for hook-ups. When you say this, you really mean: "Don't get hung up on me, because we're never getting serious." If you hear this excuse, run -- unless you're just looking for a short-term fling.
  • "You're too good for me." This is not a compliment. It means: "What's wrong with you? Why aren't you taking my hints and going away?" You say this when you don't want to be the "bad guy" and dump someone. No one enjoys a breakup. But an adult doesn't play a game -- he/she pulls the plug with decency.
  • "You in?" or "Wanna hang?" Ugh. Are we back in junior high, waiting to make out behind Pizza Hut after the movie? No. Just... no.

Let's face it. After a certain age, we've all got baggage when it comes to love. We're afraid of another rejection. We're scared of not being good enough. We blame each other for our loneliness: "Women are gold diggers" and "Men only want one thing."

Maybe if we were more honest with ourselves -- and each other -- about what we wanted, we'd actually find love.

Happy Valentine's Day.

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