Dating is a four letter word for most young people these days. Conventional dating norms have fallen by the wayside leaving group hangs and casual hookups as the standard of the day. This makes an occasion like Valentine's Day that much more complicated. Many traditional ways of celebrating the holiday are overly romantic, and send a much more serious message than you may want to convey. Don't panic, the following is a list of great ways to acknowledge the holiday without getting bogged down by feelings.
Watch or go to see a completely non-romantic movie. If staying home I recommend a horror film (My Bloody Valentine would be thematically appropriate) the blood, gore, and campy hi-jinks are bound to distract from any serious emotional consequences. If going out choose a comedy or other genre that is guaranteed to avoid romantic plot lines. Even better, find a theater that serves alcohol such as the Arlington Draft House. The booze provides social lubrication to help you through any awkwardly sincere emotional moments brought on by the holiday and numbs the pain of Valentine's past.
Exchange gag gifts. Anything that the other person might like that pokes fun at the overly romantic aspects of the Valentine's Day spirit. You can even make it a competition, whoever comes up with the best anti-Valentine's gift idea wins.
Turn Valentine's plans into the ever popular "group hang." Gather up a bunch of friends who are just as Valentine or commitment phobic as you are and find something fun to do. Some suggestions: a party with a quirky theme, bowling, a bar crawl, really anything that plays up a group dynamic rather than one-on-one couple time.
The best thing about Valentine's Day is that it lends itself very easily to mockery. Even the most conventional of Valentine's dates can become alternative if you go into them with the right attitude. Whether you are single, taken or "it's complicated" one of the most fun ways to celebrate the holiday may just be to go out and poke fun at the overly romantic, lovey-dovey couples you see. In a respectful fashion of course. Remember, the day can't be that bad as long as you don't take it too seriously.