Got something special planned for today? Planning to tell someone how you feel? You might want to check Laurence Atkinson’s guide to Valentine’s Day first!

Photographs of kissing couples? Facebook statuses declaring distaste for the day? Tesco selling out of artichokes because they contain the word heart? It can only be Valentine’s Day. Needless to say, this is an annual event which polarises the student community, and this article aims to offer a little advice taken from the real anecdotes of real people (mostly) of what NOT to do.


Don’t put a card in your crush’s bag

It’s natural to be nervous. Particularly with all the added pressure heaped on you by colourful television adverts and your best mate telling all about their beautifully romantic plans. It’s enough to make anyone break out into a cold sweat. And yet, much like Bruce Wayne learns from the League of Shadows, it is best to confront your fears. And this includes facing up to that special someone in order to give them a Valentines card. A lot of bags are mass produced, and as a result, many people have identical bags. And so, if you decide that the best method of seduction is to leave a card in someone’s bag, at least make sure it’s the right one.

Don’t go to the rugby

In Wales, you may find that everyone loves a bit of rugby. As an English “bloke” I laughed at this notion on Gavin and Stacey and yet now, living on the other side of the bridge, I have discovered it is actually a reality. But that doesn’t make a match an ideal date environment. Indeed, there aren’t many places which could be less romantic, particularly when you’re surrounded by angry Welsh fans shouting abuse at the referee. But in hindsight, at least it gets you out of awkward small talk; even if your date never breathes another word to you afterwards.

 Don’t take your date to Area 51

Bit of a no-brainer, this. Ok, so unless you are massive sci-fi fans and have often fantasised about being at the receiving end of a cheeky bit of extra-terrestrial probing, in which case, please skip this one. For everyone else, however, driving out to deep Nevada in the middle of February may seem a little over the top, by which of course, I mean mental. But then there’s that one in 15 quintillion chance of seeing a real life UFO, taking a photograph so grainy it looks like you got your Instagram printout covered in sand and making about 3 quid selling it to a sweaty man named Clive who lives in a shed dreaming up conspiracies. Of course, you’re also running the risk of getting abducted. And, of course, you’re running the risk of a really dull drive around a desert seeing nothing but your own irritated faces. Hardly screams romance, does it?

Don’t drink Baileys

As I mentioned earlier, V Day is nerve-racking, and many people choose to steel these nerves with the application of alcohol. However you do have to be rather selective when it comes to your beverage. Drinking an entire pint of Baileys, for example, may not be the best move to make, as a friend of mine found out. Instead of enjoying an amorous evening, he spent the entire night feeling rather drunk and rather like he was about to vomit. So if you do need a quick drink to prepare yourself for the evening, stick to something light, and steer clear of sickly substances.

Don’t deliver flowers by proxy

It can certainly be awkward confessing that you have feelings for someone. And it can hardly be denied that this isn’t made much easier with a bunch of flowers. However, the thing to do in this situation isn’t to be ‘inventive’ and use a mutual friend as a courier service. It is always best to hand deliver your own flowers, as, surprisingly, the romantic gesture is often lost when delivered by proxy.


Don’t spend the entire evening talking about Doctor Who

Despite its many attributes, Doctor Who hardly screams allure. You may be able to get a few references in, but just make sure it’s a few (Amy Pond’s lack of blinking is always an interesting talking point), and make sure you talk about other things. If not you could end up as lonely as the last of the Time Lords himself. And yes, this one’s from personal experience.

Don’t go speed dating

You either have to be incredibly lucky or in a film to actually find a partner on Valentine’s Day. And so speed dating, however good an idea it seems at the time, probably isn’t. After all, it could end like most speed dating does; a person to whom you’re vaguely attracted goes on a date with you, and the event is mediocre to sub-par. Or, as in the case of my friend, the romantic interest in question could end up living next door to you the following year. Not ideal. However, there is an antidote to this – don’t go speed dating. Especially not on February the 14th.

Don’t buy your Valentine a pet

It may seem ever so sweet to buy a cute little pet; a token of love and a demonstration of your more caring nature. But for a Valentines treat this may not always be a great idea, as one particularly luckless chum of mine found out. So, it may be that you’ve been seeing someone for a little while and you decide that you should honour your commitment in some way. However, honouring it in the form of a living and lasting creature is not always the best way to go about it. Buy some jewellery or something, not a goldfish.  Even if you’ve discussed getting a goldfish, don’t actually get a goldfish, as it will probably end up swimming round its lonely bowl long after the relationship has fin-ished (sorry, couldn’t resist).

So that’s my guide to Valentine’s Day, now all I can do is wish you the best of luck. Of course, one year it’s bound to fall on Shrove Tuesday (or more accurately, Pancake Day), in which case, problem solved.

By Laurence Atkinson

Had a more-than-awkward candlelit dinner? Allergic reaction to the chocolates your partner gave you? Let us know about your Valentine’s Day disasters by commenting below or emailing us at