Monday, 6 February 2012

Operation Valentinus 2012

I'm a bit late this year in announcing Operation Valentinus, but I was reminded by a manipulative email from a Catholic dating website in my inbox. It was called "Pre-Valentine's Day Dread?"

The Valentine's merchandise arrived with force: boxed chocolates, shooting cupids, red roses. It can be dispiriting for those of us who are still searching for that special someone to wine and dine on Feb. 14.
Maybe it's time to become a full, paid member of X.


Ah dear. I see that that particular dating website has become a full-fledged Catholic industry, with smart bloggers and interesting articles and the occasional nihil obstat. It's amazing what can be done when subscribers are coughing up a one-time six month payment of $75. Maybe if I stopped writing about how exploitative I think Catholic dating websites are, I'd get a cut of the action.

But never mind that. It's time to launch Operation Valentinus. And Operation Valentinus is not based on signing up on dating websites to ogle photographs of men and deciding to contact them based on their ability to spell, but on showing your Single friends how much they mean in your life right now.

There are two parts to Operation Valentinus. The first part involves choosing five or so Single friends and sending them cards and chocolate--particularly chocolate--in the post for Valentine's Day. The second part involves arranging a fun party for Singles on the night of Valentine's Day, preferably far away from any restaurant teeming with couples willing to pay £45 per person for that which cost only £20 the night before.

It's really that simple. If you have discovered, year after year, that certain holidays make you feel depressed, then you owe it to your mental health to prepare for them. And just like your priest/spiritual director/mother said, there is something about thoughtful gestures for other people that makes you feel good yourself.

So I recommend that girl Singles send valentines and chocolates to their Single girl friends, and that boy Singles send valentines and chocolates to their elderly female relations. Elderly female relations love to hear from their young male relations whenever, and will never get the Wrong Idea. If boy Singles send valentines and chocolates to girl Singles in whom they are not at all interested in a romantic way, they risk giving the Wrong Idea.

If Married readers want to take part in Operation Valentinus, then they should plan their list of Single beneficiaries very carefully. Market research (e.g. me googling) indicates that Single girls like to get Single stuff (like my book) from Single friends but not as much from Married (or getting-married-next-week) friends. The last thing you want to get, as a Married woman whose own Valentine's Day might be lackluster, is a snippy response from the Single friend to whom you sent a card and gift.

As for the fun night you are going to have on Valentine's Day, I rather leave that up to you. My caveat is that you stay out of bars because predatory men might be taking special advantage of vulnerable women. I envision busy kitchens of Singles cooking for each other or revealing the dishes they have brought from home, or putting Chinese take-out on plates. And I envision cult classics on the DVD player. But mostly I envision friends having fun together and seeing for themselves that being Single doesn't mean being alone and unloved.

30 comments:

leonine said...

Last year I made homemade chocolate truffles for Operation Valentinus and delivered them to my single friends; and they loved the whole thing. Unfortunately, this year they are all (!!) a. abroad, b. no longer single or c. abroad and no longer single. Darn.

healthily sanguine said...

I'm going to be moving. I'm hoping to finish up a few crochet/knit projects in time for Valentine's day, but we'll see . . . by the way, speaking of martyrs, happy feast day (St. Dorothy, virgin and martyr), Auntie Seraphic!

healthily sanguine said...

PS It is not too late to start your own Catholic singles site and make lots of $$!

Seraphic said...

Never! If you ever get interested in a guy because of my blogs, it's going to be because you enjoy his comments and click to his own blog. I think it is terrible to stare at photos of human beings as if they were slaves on auction at the market or items for sale in a catalog.

Some men who look terrible in photographs are extremely attractive in person, and all the guys I chose in my brief internet dating stint looked WORSE than their photos, every time.

I hated the photos people sent me of B.A. What made me interested in him was his great sense of humour and the intelligence of his own blog.

Seraphic said...

Thanks for Saint's Day greetings!

Jam said...

Some of these Catholic dating site ads are truly shameful. I'm glad you're against them. I used to feel slightly guilty about not wanting to join one, like I was just an unphotogenic wimp, but with good rational arguments against them, I can now feel comfortable in taking a principled stand.

I am the abroad friend this year and I have one little box all set to get mailed. I'm doing half sugar candies and half chocolates-in-original-wrappings, just in case the chocolates, ahem, suffer. Although you'd think they'd be ok in February!

Johannes Faber said...

Happy Dorothimas!

Hmm, a Tuesday. I think I'll plan to just ignore the day altogether. These annual days of organised fun are so boring - V-day isn't as bad as new year's eve though, that's the worst! Apple and Pizza Express emailed me, telling me about how I can buy love if I give someone an iPad, or a Quattro Formaggi pizza or something. Maybe say the office of St Valentine but otherwise just not even think about it.

Might give my Granny some werthers or something though, that's quite a nice idea.

Seraphic said...

Yay! Do send the Werther's to Granny!

Meanwhile, I am tempted to call your attitude towards Valentines' Day inherently masculine.

Johannes Faber said...

I shall take that as a compliment!

Johannes Faber said...

Actually, bluster aside, I do quite like Valentine's day. But I don't wish to be reminded of it by Tesco, Pizza Express, Apple, Waterstones, Amazon, Starbucks blah blah blah (I don't mind you being reminded of it here though, this is a sensible discussion not exploitation lol). I find the exploitative nature of it irritating. When I'm with someone, I want to do something for V-day because I want to (and I would want to!) - not because I've been coerced into it by shops.

Johannes Faber said...

you reminding me of it here*

Young Canadian RC Male said...

Seraphic's own singles site? Hmmm do I smell a Seraphic Singles empire? I'd be down for it. And you could use some of the lovely profits to fund further your TLM at your parish and even more lavish shindigs post-Mass at your place.

Anyways, as one of your male blog readers, I'll just contribute by saying I decided (as my real identity) to do a Catholic speed-dating event this coming weekend co-sponsored by a Catholic university chaplincy/community and another young people's Catholic ministry. I figured it was better than being boo-hoo all weekend, it's close to my workplace, and hey it's got an element of randomness and mystery to it so who knows what will happen!

Charming Disarray said...

I got that same tacky email. What amazed me about it most was the smiling face of the "editor." If I were her, I would be in hiding, not sending my picture around like that. Online dating has some advantages but that site in particular is so overpriced that hardly anyone is a paying member, and I don't know what the point is of shelling out huge amounts of money for something that's basically a less user-friendly version of Facebook. The owners must be millionaires. Seriously.

Seraphic said...

Young Canadian RC Male, I've had a reader guest-blog about about a speed-daing day, but I've never heard from a guy reader what it was like.

Now this is a guy's eye view I must have. Would you be willing to email me your speed dating report? I'd put it up n the blog so the girls can see what speed-dating is like from a Catholic guy's point of view!

Seraphic said...

Meanwhile, no Singles empire! Selling books is great, but I won't make money off the backs of your dreams.

healthily sanguine said...

Ok, then you are officially disallowed from complaining about anything financial! There's nothing wrong with making money out of your own great idea, is there? Besides, if you dislike the photos aspect of it, make a singles site SANS photo--that would be unique, indeed!

healthily sanguine said...

I say this because, despite the fact that they are horrible to varying degrees, some of us actually USE these sites. It's no use your making a principled, married stand against them when meanwhile the number of ways we young Catholics can meet others are limited. You'd be doing everyone a service to create a singles site in your own image.

Johannes Faber said...

No photos is actually a really good idea!

Seraphic said...

Hey, don't cast it up to me that I'm a married lady. I signed up with two or three myself in my time, and I realized that they were a good (or bad) way to waste a lot of time.

If the next World Youth Day is in Krakow, I'll reserve a room in a bar, and all Seraphic Singles readers can come and have a party. How about that?

Maggie said...

The next WYD ('13) will be in Rio, a place I have no desire to visit. But after that, perhaps Krakow!

Johannes Faber said...

Fr Stephen Wang is trying to get it here in England, lol.

Johannes Faber said...

Perhaps a forum is the answer to these questions.

The trouble is that most Catholic forums descend into arguments about:

- Liturgy
- Modernism
- Jews
- Freemasons
- Women in trousers

It would have to be ruled with an iron fist.

Charming Disarray said...

Ha ha. We must read the same forums.

Young Canadian RC Male said...

Well Seraphic, this sounds like a good Idea. I've started the draftwork on the post (before the event, emotions and feelings going into it). Plus I havent' blogged in the new year with my laziness and everything going on, so it'll be worthwhile.

Jen D said...

I was looking through an online dating site last week - proximity to Valentine's Day was a coincidence - and the part of your post about judging people by their photographs and spelling skills made me laugh because that is exactly what the connection is reduced to!

That said, I fully intend to participate in Operation Valentinus this year! :)

healthily sanguine said...

Heehee, too true about the forum. I considered the idea of a forum before continuing to harass Mrs. Seraphic about the dating site, but forums are too . . . well, too something! :) I agree that ruling with an iron fist, one way or other, would be the only way to make it a success. I suspect the only reason these comboxes don't descend into utter mayhem is the Seraphically Iron Fist effect!

The reason I threw in the married dig is that the married people I know tend not to be very creative on their single friends behalf and instead vaguely assume the single friend will meet his/her spouse in much the same manner as the married person did. In fact, they rather despair of you EVER finding ANYone as nice as their beloved, if the truth be told . . . but my friends who met their spouse on AveMariaSingles say I should try it, those who have known their spouse for years kind of nod sympathetically, and those who met their spouse through a friend try to set me up with people (which is actually rather helpful). Meanwhile, I know most marrieds are busy and it isn't their job to go 'round finding mates for their unmarried friends--but you DID write a book about singles, so . . . ;)

Seraphic said...

Yeah, but I wrote a book about being happy while you're Single. I didn't write a book about "How to Stop Being Single." Other women write those books, and I suspect that they sell better!

But Catholic dating websites are not about "how to live your Single life happily and with confidence." They are all about getting married.

Now, I am very sympathetic to the proven fact that most Single men and women hope to marry some day. And I definitely agree that married people who have learned a thing or two should pass on good advice in finding a spouse to their Single friends--with the caveat that Single people should not snarl and snap and bite off the hand that feeds them the good advice.

For every Single who wails that her married friend never sets her up at dinner parties there is a Single who wails that her married friend tried to set her up at a dinner party.

I can't tell you how to get married--just that being a happy and confident Single makes you more attractive than being a sad and dithering Single. I can also tell you how not to get yourself into terrible situations with the opposite sex, what habits to avoid, what men/women to avoid, what lines to look out for. But other than that--I can't.

Only two men (mid-twenties, Europe) I know personally have asked me to help find them wives. I think they are both absolutely charming and very good catches, as your great-grandmother might have said, but I have no idea how to do this discreetly online. The internet is the opposite of discreet.

It's a bit frustrating, as I have hundreds of young Catholic female readers, and no way of telling if any of you would do!

But of course going out there and finding a wife for himself is one of those things that separate the man from the boy, no?

berenike said...

Dunno why you are so very down on the very idea of Catholic dating sites. Ok, so the folk who run them or the way they are run might get up one's nose, but there's no point in cutting off that nose.

healthily sanguine said...

Yeah, I guess at the core of it, though we are called to be Seraphic Singles, I don't mind the recognition that the single, unvowed state is at the core a sucky middle ground. One of my (single) girl friends was arguing with me about this a few months ago and saying that as Christians our baptismal vows should be sufficient for our happiness and wholeness, especially as, no matter our state in life, we must keep in mind our ultimate goal of heavenly beatitude. I saw her point, but in my opinion on a natural level the best thing you can do for your own mental health is to call a spade a spade: not having a vocation, in the proper sense, isn't the greatest. So yes, the focus should be on being happy, confident, etc., and not falling into dating/relationship pitfalls due to insecurity or desperation--but even while not being desperate, you can still be open to a change. That's why I'm ok with friends trying to set me up or even with singles sites, which in their own imperfect way (and for a nominal fee), are trying to help facilitate that as well. I guess there are other Singles, the snarly types, who aren't so happy with the helping hand, but I tend to assume anyone who tries to help has good intentions. After all, playing matchmaker isn't an easy task! :)

Seraphic said...

Berenike, KathTreff may be fantastic, but other dating websites are expensive, play on Singles' feelings of loneliness in their ads, and present photographs for people to gawk at, as if we are all supposed to choose spouses on what they LOOK like.

They also encourage--whether they mean to or not--half-imaginary epistolary relationships between people who would never otherwise meet, often living thousands (THOUSANDS) of miles away from each other. Austria--heck, Europe--is a very small, close-knit place compared to the vastness of the USA and Canada and even Australia, where getting around is horribly expensive.