What Is Love?: Crowd-Sourced Romantic Advice for Valentine's Day

Introducing a breakthrough in newspaper advice-giving: crowd-advising! The following questions were sent in by our readers seeking help with their relationship quandaries. Other readers provided witty and wise (and a few not so) answers for a completely crowd-sourced Valentine's Day cover story.

Dear Valentine's Day Advisor,

For eight years, my husband and I have been exchanging stereotypical crap on Valentine's Day. Within a few weeks, the flowers, cards, and other bulls--t land in the trashcan. How do I convince my husband that Valentine's Day is not romantic and we should quit wasting our money on crap?

—Lost in a Sea of Doilies

Tell him you should pool your money and get something both of you can use.

—Old Biddy

Maybe use your words. It's worth a try.

—Bernie Talldown

Dear Editor,

I've recently moved back to East Tennessee after some time away, and I'm having a bit of trouble meeting people my age (mid-to-late 20s/early 30s). This goes for men of the dating sort as well as just friends.

Mostly my trouble comes from being a bit shy. Do you have any advice about how to meet people? I've tried online dating before and became so fed up with the creeps that I don't want to go through that again.

—Boomerang Knoxvillian

If browsing the Seeking section of Craigslist doesn't prove fruitful, there is another option. You see, there are the old-timey establishments called "bars." People, most of them youngish or at least available, congregate at them. They drink this stuff called "liquor" or "beer" that loosens their inhibitions. This, in turn, allows them to be free of their shyness and strike up conversations with attractive potential mates. Try one. I understand that there are some nice ones in and around downtown Knoxville.

Or try Snapchat or Tumblr—I hear they are all the rage with the young 'uns.

—Rocky Hillian

You should attend the Friends of Literacy Bachelor Auction on March 14. Plenty of guys that age you can bid on.

—M.N.

It's a contact sport. You have to put yourself out there. Pick up a new hobby or volunteer somewhere. No one will know you exist if you just sit there and wait. I know. And when you are out interacting, doing whatever you do, don't be looking for it. People are attracted to positive, energetic, and interesting people because they want to be a part of that experience, too. Offer yourself to the world and the right people will find you. Or you will find them, once you shed that shyness.

—Mural Guy

What, you don't drink? Well, it's time to start, honey.

—Earl Nemo

Drunk beats shy like a rock crushes scissors.

—Bernie Talldown

Dear Editor,

Is it normal to have a crush on Stacey Campfield? If I look at his Facebook page again and again, does that make me a stalker, or just a fan? How will I know whether he cares?

—Socially Conservative/Affectionately Liberal

It is my understanding that Mr. Campfield is a particularly outstanding landlord of many unique domiciles in the Knoxville area. I would suggest procuring living accommodations in one of these edifices. Then you should sign up for Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, Wordpress, Flickr, and Myspace, all under the account name LivingWithStacey. Proceed to post elaborate, detailed fictional stories about what it is like to live with and love Mr. Campfield. You have to make sure that all of your posts include links directly to Mr. Campfield's blog; that way, your SEO will be intricately linked with Mr. Campfield. Then, when he looks into his sudden rise in status on Google Analytics and sees all of the hits that run through your wonderful, loving stories, he will have no recourse but to contact you directly. Once he learns that he is already providing you with a home, he will have no qualms about taking you in as his partner.

—Rocky Hillian

Sometimes it's just too hard to look away from a train wreck.

—Mural Guy

Dear Editor,

I'm in a real bind—it feels like the end of the world. My husband, Rick, was shot on the job about a month ago. When the evacuation call came, I had to leave him and get our son Carl to safety with my husband's best friend, Shane. Under tremendous stress and thinking my husband dead, Shane and I started sleeping together. We kept it a secret from our friends and neighbors as well as from my son.

Last week, my husband found us. Somehow providence returned him to us, and, though we've had our rough patches, I still love him and am overjoyed to have him back. Shane, however, has become increasingly unstable and angry. He loves me and wants me to leave my husband for him. He did save my life, as well as my son's life, but I'm scared to be around him now.

I'm three weeks late and worried the baby may be his. Should I tell Rick what happened?

—Lori (Somewhere South of Atlanta)

I am sorry to tell you that Rick is going to kill Shane. And in worse news, you die as well.

—M.N.

You could always call MTV or any other "reality" network and sell your story to them. Get some free diapers out of it. If the Kardashians can do it, so can you.

—Mural Guy

Nothing shows true love like a series of competitions through which one man emerges as both the winner and the one who obviously loves you the most.

—Bernie Talldown

Misunderstandings like this can be [SPOILER]. It's important for you to remember that [SPOILER] Carl [SPOILER] communication. You may find that [SPOILER] sometimes [SPOILER] understanding [SPOILER] gouging implement. [SPOILER] you'll [SPOILER] but [SPOILER] any day now.

Daryl dies at the end of Season 4.

—Steve Goodadvice

Dear Editor,

What is love?

—Questioner

A quaint, old-fashioned notion.

—Bernie Talldown

Love was an American rock group of the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were lead by singer/songwriter Arthur Lee. While they never found much commercial success, they were critically acclaimed and have developed a cult following in recent years. Their 1967 album Forever Changes is considered by many to be a masterpiece, though, personally, I also like the songs "My Little Red Book" and "Hey Joe" from the album Love and "7 and 7 Is" and "Orange Skies" from Da Capo.

If you have never heard them, they are definitely worth checking out to soothe your lonely, pathetic life.

—Rocky Hillian

Dear Editor,

I've been dating someone for about seven years. When I go out with him, he makes a fool out of himself—he is rude to the staff at restaurants and bars and gets so drunk he has to be carried to the car. He doesn't tip very well, either.

I hate going out with him in public, but when it's just the two of us we are so great together. I don't want to break up with him; I just want to figure out a way to get him to stop being a jerk in public.

—Seriously, Stop

Rude to servers and a bad tipper? There's nothing here for you. These are the worst people on earth outside of truly evil people. First World problems and all, but seriously, run.

—Bernie Talldown

If the bar industry hates him (and it seems most patrons probably do, too, from your description), ditch him. You can tell a lot about people by how they judge others when being served.

—Mural Guy

Dear Editor,

I've been going out with my current boyfriend for almost a year now, and I'm starting to question the quality of this relationship. The problem is that I get along with him okay, but his friends are really bringing me down.

As a fairly well-educated woman with a professional job, I have a hard time relating to overmedicated ex-strippers, guys who can't support themselves but are in "awesome" local bands, and compulsively lying waitresses who wish they were characters in Mad Men. For months, I've tried very hard to tolerate these undesirables, but now I can't help but think there's something very wrong with my boyfriend for spending a lot of time with these people.

Is there any hope for this relationship? Can I possibly regain the IQ points I've lost during the past year? Am I arrogant?

—I'm With Stupid

Good news! Despite your self-identified great intellect, you have almost certainly failed to adequately veil this letter, and your boyfriend has probably read it, figured it out, and broken up with you. So you're single now. Congrats!

How will you find a mate who does live up to your standards? I recommend standing in a park, reading a big, heavy book and loudly saying things like "Preposterous!" or "But think of the implications!" Some fellow well-bred genius is sure to fall in love with you soon enough.

—Steve Goodadvice

I'm friends with your boyfriend, and we all wish he'd dump you already.

—Bernie Talldown

Stay away from guys in skinny jeans and bad tattoos.

—Mural Guy

Dear Metro Pulse Person,

1. What's the best way to obtain closure from a break-up where one partner refuses to communicate in any shape or form?

2. What's the strongest signal to send when seeing an ex-partner with someone new in a social situation?

—Answer Me

State your case. Walk away. Time fades everything. You'll feel better in the long run. I've been on both ends.

—Mural Guy

Closure is a myth designed by charlatans to turn other people's anguish into profit. But you can find some comfort in remembering that the self is an illusion, an internally reflective shorthand created by a system of synaptic patterns too vast and complex to be understood on a one-to-one, granular level. So neither "you" nor "your ex" really "exist" in anything close to the form in which you conceive it. The only exception to this rule is your ex's new partner, who both truly exists and possesses a deep, unshakable contentment you will never know.

—Steve Goodadvice

1. Get drunk; make ass of self.

2. See #1.

—Bernie Talldown

Dear Metro Pulse Advisor,

I think I am in love with my dog. Not romantically, but I just can't think about anything else but him. Does this constitute cheating on my boyfriend?

—Canine Cuddler

I'm sorry now that I didn't send a question when Metro Pulse tweeted a request for these questions. They even asked twice, and I thought about it at least for a moment. Why? Why didn't I at least try? I mean, your dog?

—Bernie Talldown

Dear Knower of Many Things,

How do I tell my husband I want to shave his back?

—Unhappy in Hirsuteness

If this were a sitcom you could try to use a spa day to trick him into having it done, and then it could end tragicomically. I say try that.

—Bernie Talldown