ROMANCE WINGMAN: VALENTINE’S DAY DO’S AND DON’TS

So much has been written about Valentine’s Day that even the journalistically inclined are hard pressed to find a new way to tackle the subject. Taking the straight route, for example, dictates that we make some romantic comparison to a timely subject – like, oh…I don’t know…politics, as found here. Gosh, what a well-crafted argument, whoever wrote that must be pretty clever (or just shamefully self-promoting – your call).

Or there’s the statistical route, which isn’t flowery but still pretty damn interesting, like this compilation of cupid-related numbers. Eleven thousand children conceived on Valentine’s Day on average?! Ew, that’s more information than I needed…

But my personal favorite read as of late was about Valenswine’s Day, the day before Valentine’s when men take their mistresses out for a romantic tryst (hey, it’s better than double booking, right?)

This year, however, my contribution to the lovers melting pot is a 2012-themed Do’s and Don’ts list for both singles and couples. True, it may have been done before, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still fun.

For the attached:

DO try to avoid flaunting your syrupy sweet relationship details on Facebook or Twitter. Uploading excessive pictures of your gigantic floral arrangement or giving us the play by play of all of the things “the very best boyfriend/husband/fiancee in the whole world” did for you today tends to get on people’s nerves. Also, please try not to profess your love in 140 characters or less. The words “marry me” should never come with a hashtag in front of them, in my opinion.

Men: DON’T pawn off a gift that really serves your purposes as something you think we’d enjoy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: giving lingerie and sports tickets is only altruistic if you’re dating Adriana Lima or Marv Albert. *Miss Wingman note - if you’re dating a woman who would love to hit up an NBA game on Valentine’s Day, marry her. She rocks.

DO recreate a fond memory with your beloved. If your first date was for Dim Sum in Chinatown and then a John Hughes revival at local theater, why not relive it? (And if it’s not possible, ordering in Chinese and Netflix’ing The Breakfast Club works, too).

DON’T be afraid to Do It Yourself for a gift. If you’re particularly good at something (cooking, playing music, etc.) now is a good time to showcase your skills. Just don’t go that route if you’re known for being notoriously cheap – homemade is endearing, but not if your reputation precedes you.

DON’T ignore the holiday entirely, even if your significant other swears that she hates Valentine’s and couldn’t care less about it. Fact: 53% of women say that they’d break up with someone if they didn’t receive a present on Valentine’s Day. So even if it’s just a card, give Cupid a nod. Or else.

For the unattached:

DON’T get drunk and text or call your ex. Likewise, don’t check their Facebook page or e-stalk them – it will not make you feel better – especially if they’ve moved onto someone else. The past is the past for a reason, leave it that way.

DON’T try to DTR (Define The Relationship) with someone with whom you’ve been casually hooking up. This is not to be confused with being DTF (Down To…you know), which everyone should be on Valentine’s Day. Right, Pauly D?

DO start fresh by eliminating painful reminders of your old flames on Facebook, G-chat or your mobile device (a clean slate is better than looking backward, after all), but DON’T do anything drastic, like overhauling your life. Joining every single dating website (and downloading dating apps), buying a whole new wardrobe and signing up for the next casting of The Bachelor is excessive, FYI.

DO turn the negative (read: a recent break up) into a positive. It turns out angst is great fuel for creativity, so find a way to channel it. Hey, it worked for Adele, didn’t it?

DON’T be a cliche. The idea of the embittered single female – or in rare cases, male – isn’t amusing, it’s just plain angry. Please avoid blasting “F*%k You” music or going to see a midnight showing of Carrie, it’s not helping your cause (or making the rest of us look good).

For both:

DON’T sext half naked (or worse) pictures of yourself to anyone, whether you’re in a relationship or not. Have we learned nothing from Anthony Weiner, people?

But DO spread the love. Remember how much fun Valentine’s Day was as a kid? You don’t have to write tiny cards to all of your coworkers, but dropping Hershey’s Kisses or conversation hearts on your neighbor’s desk is fun way to be nostalgic. Everybody loves a little kitsch once in a while, right?

And there you have it, Miss Wingman’s take on this hot button holiday. Sure, some may hate Valentine’s Day because it, following closely on the heels of the other dreaded singles holiday, New Year’s Eve, provides the one-two punch we can’t avoid. It’s like a tandem assault-by-calendar, if you choose to view it that way. But I’d prefer to think of it as just another opportunity to make someone else smile – and there’s nothing wrong with that. And, if you still can’t get behind it, just know that your own Valentine’s misery is probably nothing compared to this guy’s. My love to you all, today and always.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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JUST WING IT: WINGMAN PROTOCOL FROM BOTH PERSPECTIVES

Let’s face it – the dating world is a dangerous place. It’s full of conversational land mines, social mishaps and the occasional grenades to dodge (in the Pauly D sense of the word, that is). Thus having a wingman is not only necessary, but a huge help in chatting up the opposite sex.

You need someone to help you with your approach, engage in playful rounds of verbal sparring so that you seem witty, and chat up any friends your target has in tow to free you and your intended up for a love connection. Someone to be the Goose to your Maverick, if you will. But what are the rules of such a set up? This is where things can get tricky.

A friend recently sent me an email detailing her distaste for the way a man behaved while she was serving as wingwoman one night. She said the gentleman attempting to win over her friend virtually ignored her – the cardinal sin men can commit in a social setting. Be nice to the friend, be nice to the friend, be nice to the friend – always, and under all circumstances.

Because after all, when you walk away, if you’ve rubbed the wrong way the one who will have her ear on the ride home, you’ve just shot yourself down and all of that hard work was for naught. So here are a few behavioral guidelines for those chatting up someone with a wingman in tow, as well as for the wingman (or woman) him or herself. It’s not rocket science, but it needs to be said.

Be inclusive, not exclusive - If the person you’re talking to has a friend (or friends) with them, as I said, make sure to engage them in conversation as well. Or, at least make eye contact while you’re talking to the one you’re really interested in, so that they don’t feel like human furniture. Eye contact or nodding when they talk is just as effective an interaction. I can’t emphasize this enough.

Even if you are underwhelmed by said friend, this will make the friend think you have manners, and possibly rally in your favor later on if he or she thinks you’re particularly funny or charming. If there is a momentary lull in conversation, ask how they know each other, chat up the friend about what she does for work – whatever, just keep the exchange going as long as possible to gain an opportunity to showcase your personality.

Smile - There is nothing as disarming as smiling at someone. People should do it more often, in my opinion. So, if you’re talking to a woman you’re into, make steady eye contact, smile (not in a goofy, cartoon-ish way though) and be as relaxed as possible. It’s just a conversation, don’t over-think it.

Offer both of them a drink - If you notice that one or both of the women you’re chatting up has a drink that could use some refilling, take the initiative and ask to buy them a round. I know this isn’t an inexpensive or convenient move, but it shows us that you have manners, a rare commodity these days.

For those serving as wingman/woman - It becomes clear fairly quickly who the intended target is, so if it’s established that it’s your friend’s affections that are being sought, you have some responsibilities as well. If you seem to like the person who just approached (or at least don’t abhor them instantly), you would do well to help him or her out. It’s good karma.

If there is an awkward silence, jump in and ask a question, like, “So, what does a (fill in the blank job) do exactly?” *Note, obviously if the person has an easy job, like a dentist, that’s pretty self-explanatory. Don’t inquire unless you want to look slightly challenged in the smarts department.

Or you could talk up your friend if you think that he or she could use some help closing the deal. Casually bring up something impressive about them, or if he or she is particularly funny take a cue from earlier and do the whole witty banter thing. Verbally tag-teaming your friends makes you both look approachable and reminds us all of our own friendships, which helps put people at ease.

But whatever you do, try to avoid cutting the poor person at the knees and forcing them to walk away with a bruised ego and shattered confidence. It takes guts to approach someone, after all, and that type of bravery should never be scoffed at or insulted – unless the person approaching is particularly lecherous or annoying.

In that case, the wingman should fake an asthma attack or say something to your friend like, “Hey isn’t that your girlfriend (or boyfriend) over there?” and then point to the most intimidating-looking person in the room. Then make a hasty escape.

It shouldn’t be that hard to meet people, we do it every day in various circumstances. It is, however, hard to meet people of substance, worth keeping around. So if you’re on the prowl or just keeping a buddy company, remember that some rules of decorum apply. And if you can’t be helpful or straighten up and fly right, perhaps you’re better off staying home.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

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