Valentine’s Day has this weird, semi-nominal importance with me. Some years I notice it, some years I don’t. I remember in the years before I started dating, Valentine’s Day was the day to be reminded how weird other people were. Valentine’s Day was just another “yay, candy day!” to me until I was fifteen. The very first time I had any kind of relationship that overlapped the holiday, I was sixteen.

Which gives me a bit of the “weird, old” vibe, ’cause it means I’ve been dating on and off for ten years. I’ve already thought about this here and there the last couple weeks — particularly because Valentine’s Day was approaching — what I’ve learned from relationships I’ve had over the last ten years. What to say, what to do, how to act, what to give, what to share, what to ask for in return.

The thing is, though, that it isn’t a game. You’re dealing with real people who have real feelings and expectations and the best thing you can ever honestly do for another person is be honest with them, especially when you don’t want to be. Not about everything, I suppose, but about most everything. Anything that provokes the thought “should I tell them the truth” is probably a good time to exercise honesty and straightforwardness.

Of course, “I don’t know how” is a godsend. Being able to say “I could go either way, and I don’t know why” or “I’m not feeling anything specific” can both be important phrases to use in the case that you either don’t have a solid opinion or don’t care to express one. Just don’t say “I don’t have an opinion,” ’cause that’s a bunch of crap.