Love - or at least the mixed fragrance of expensive perfume, more-expensive chocolate, and greeting card ink - is in the air, so it's time for a special Valentine's Day edition of Weekend Reads!
Learn what cheap gifts your partner will love and flash forward 10 years to see what romance really looks like. Plus, why you shouldn't trust dating robots, why you shouldn't trust your significant other with your finances, what love and cocaine have in common (more than you'd think!), and how to score some digits on a dating app without being (completely) creepy.
Valentine’s Day is widely known by the cynical and the single as a trumped up holiday manufactured by the greeting card industry. And honestly that’s probably true. So that’s why you should simultaneously show love to your partner and stick it to Big Greeting Card by buying small, meaningful things instead of a stuffed bear that’s the size of an actual bear. Is buying two identical books so you and your partner both have a copy super cheesy? Yes. But it’s also the kind of thing that shows that you actually care about someone, and you can’t put a price on that. (Actually you can, but it’s pretty cheap, so it all works out.)
Valentine’s Day does a great job of romanticizing...well, romance. You make a big show of everything for a single day. And then the rest of the year is all rom-coms and Nicholas Sparks novels and Twilight. But eventually you have to deal with love in real life, like when you have kids and a mortgage and jobs, and Heather Havrilesky at The Cut does a really good job of parsing out just what that means. So if you want to do something that’s actually romantic this weekend, think about "feeding one kid with your body while your husband crouches on the floor of a dressing room at the mall, wiping excrement off the other kid’s butt." True love, folks.
Thinking of doing something extramarital this Valentine’s Day? Like going on a website like Ashley Madison (but not Ashley Madison, for obvious reasons)? Well be careful, because in addition to your personal data being leaked, you’ll probably end up dating a robot! And not a cool robot like in Ex Machina or Short Circuit. They’re basically glorified versions of old AOL Instant Messenger bots, but 80% of Ashley Madison’s paying customers were converted thanks to bots. At the risk of this turning into a morality play, if you’re going to cheat on someone you sort of deserve to be suckered in by such pickup lines as "feelin FRISKY and NID sme0ne to plaay with."
Because nothing goes together like love and money, and we have a responsibility here to bring you personal finance advice, ask yourself: sure, you trust this person with your heart, but do you you trust him or her with your credit score? Sometimes it’s good to keep your finances separate from your significant other’s. For example, maybe he has a lot of debt that it doesn’t make sense for you to take on, too. Or maybe you foresee a messy divorce in your future and you really don’t want her knowing your PIN. In any case, relationships can bring about a lot of financial changes and questions, so after you’re done reading MoneyNing’s personal account, make sure to check out our own advice on combining your finances.
"Separate love from addiction, it's not the same," the Counting Crows once sang. Turns out the Counting Crows were not experts in neuroscience or behavioral psychology (who knew?), because people in love and people addicted to drugs are eerily similar. The same parts of the brain light up when you're with someone you love and when you use cocaine. Both love and drugs make people experience cravings, dependence, and withdrawal. Both can change a person’s personality and habits. Both cost you a lot of money. That last point is less scientific but no less true. There are a lot of hypotheses in this study, but it makes a compelling case based on the brain and body’s reactions. So if love is usually too ethereal for you, put some hard science behind it this weekend! And remember kids, don’t do drugs. Just fall in love instead.
Maybe you’re looking for a last minute date for this weekend. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. First, go to a place where you can meet someone nice, like a bookstore, a coffee shop, or a Target. Then realize you don’t have time for that and it’s 2016 so go download a dating app like Hinge (or Tinder, but they didn’t give the tips for this article, so Hinge). And then follow this article’s advice for getting a number. It’s actually not bad advice in general – show confidence, be personable, compliment people, and so on – so even if you’re happily in a relationship, you can still learn something. Just make sure you skip the step of downloading the dating app.