I Tried to Find a Valentine Without Using Apps and It Sucked

I literally mean I printed out and handed out flyers instead, in what rom coms would suggest are the best places to meet someone.
February 13, 2019, 9:15am
Valentine's Day finding a match without dating apps
(Photos courtesy of the author)

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and we all know what that means: A whole bunch of people buying anti-fungal cream after trying edible underwear and ending up with a yeast infection. Nice one!

Of course, this winter event is also a celebration of "love" and "romance," and so most significantly it is where cuffing season reaches its natural climax before the descent into, “wow, I know what their farts smell like. Time to wrap this up.” If you’re in a long-term relationship, you obviously won’t be celebrating because you “don’t need a stupid holiday to show how much you love your partner,” and also, you probably spent way too much on each other at Christmas and really would just like a big fuck-off pizza—just some peace and quiet would be lovely, maybe some Planet Earth?


If you're not going steady, however, and you've also failed to attach yourself, mollusc-like, to someone whose genitals you can at least tolerate over the course of cuffing season, then it's fucking crunch time. Obviously, you could choose to publicly boycott Valentine's Day, by posting a Facebook status about how it's "just for the card industry" and the "joke’s on everyone else" because you’re "celebrating alone with a chicken bucket" and "working on yourself." Or you could make sincere ‘Galentine’s Day’ plans on the 13th, complete with a separate group chat where Tiffany demands everyone bring a gift for the gal pal they’re sitting next to at the squad brunch (definitely not something I have ever done, ever.)

As tempting and absolutely not depressing as these options sound, however, it's clear the smartest move for the non-cuffed at this time is to go hell for leather. The SAS mantra, ‘Who Dares Wins’ can rarely be applied to dating because there is literally so much to lose by asking someone out. But because I’m a masochist and attention hoe, last week I decided I would make it my mission to find a last-ditch cuff, and really, *really* put myself out there.

You see, Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble all go veeeery dry between November and March, presumably because it's cold and nobody can be assed to go for drinks with strangers who might spend the entire date talking about their startup. So with dating apps ruled out, I decided to go all-in on a radical new approach to dating: guerilla marketing.


I’m not talking about going out and seeing if something happens, as I’m: a) too broke to do this and; b) had sex with one of the kitchen staff in my favorite bar, and can obviously now never show my face there again. I’m talking about going into the real world, after work, and handing out flyers:


Did I add my Instagram handle rather than my number in a desperate attention bid? Yes.

I started my journey by going to the most clichè romantic destination I could think of: the bookshop. In movies, people always find their true love in book shops, making eyes over Wuthering Heights and proceeding to talk shit about all the bestsellers. I taped a flier to my t-shirt (in case any suitors wanted an excuse to strike up conversation), and picked up a copy of Crime and Punishment. That definitely made me look very clever and interesting.


But you know me, I just couldn’t resist a bit of Bridget Jones! I am single after all!


Then, I heard a shudder as the blinds were drawn on the bookshop. It was closing time, and I hadn’t bumped into any kind men who would be willing to guide me on how to read Nietzsche. Sad!

Exiting the bookshop in Old Street Station, I noticed a man in Uber Eats gear handing out free coupons. He clearly had the whole guerilla marketing strategy tapped because everyone was taking his vouchers. I asked if it would be cool for me to stand flyering next to him and learn from the best. He nodded, and as he offered “£10 [$12] off Uber Eats,” I stood there saying, “Do you want to be my boyfriend?”


Shockingly, no one took a flyer.

Okay, so people at the end of a long busy day were more interested in getting a cheap meal than going on a date with me. I understood. But I was (am) horny, and in need of someone to split an chocolate lava cake with on Valentine’s, so I changed tack, and headed for a record store, where meet-cutes always happen in films. The record store is a romantic place to meet the person of your dreams. For full “single indie girl talk to me” vibes, I made sure to browse bands that cool boys like; for example, The Smiths.


Unfortunately, there was a show going on at the same time. Obviously, we all know cool boys like gigs, but interrupting a concert to advertise yourself is not very hip, and I couldn’t stick around for the end as I had limited time to do this write-up.

Slinking off outside, I struck up conversation with a guy smoking a cigarette. “Would you like to be my boyfriend? It would only have to be for one night,” I said. “Ha, I’ve got a girlfriend,” he replied. “But I’ll stand in a photo if you like?”


I mean honestly, the things people do for attention.

I turned back to the quiet Wednesday street to see tumbleweed (empty takeout boxes and chicken bones), billowing in the wind. No one was out, and no one would take my stupid, stupid flyers. I resigned myself, and began drafting my anti-V Day FB status in my head.


But what's this? Just a few seconds later, a group of guys walked past the entrance to the store. “HEY!” I chirped into the crisp winter air. “Would one of you guys like to date me for Valentine’s Day?”


“Yeah, our friend will do it. Go on Marco, do it!!!”

A sheepish man, who answered to Marco, stepped forward.

“Marco, would you like a flyer about dating me?” I asked.

“Um, fine,” he replied enthusiastically.

“Great! Let’s take a photo!"


As we pulled away, Marco clearly roasting nicely in the flames of embarrassment, I pondered what to do next.

“So, er, yeah, hit me up on Instagram if you want that date, I guess,” I said.

“Ha, yeah,” he replied. So sweet!

Anyway, it has been 24 hours and needless to say, Marco has not messaged me on Instagram. No lava cake for Helen. My quest for a Valentine's Day cuff continues, one flyer at a time.

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