The twenty-something standing next to love’s own guru looked as confused as I was having heard this advice. It was home-time commuter hour on the tube; I couldn’t help but tune in.

-No, one week before Valentine’s Day is the worst time to get a new girlfriend. I did it once, cost me a fortune and she’d dumped me by March. You want to wait, mate. Take it from me.

As far as 14th February is concerned, is there ever a perfect time to be in a romantic liaison? For those in a long-term relationship, the onset of Valentine’s is usually preceded by a long-standing arrangement that you won’t bother with over-priced cards or presents or couple-filled restaurants and you’ll let the day go by almost unnoticed except for a peck on the cheek and a mumbled greeting.

For those just embarking on a new relationship, it creates the awkward decision of is it too soon for a card and flowers and what if one does and the other doesn’t. In the reverse of the spirit of Valentines, it can mark the end of the romance before it has begun.

Even school children are not safe; popularity status for the next year can ride on how many cards are received. And none of this is helped by the moral dilemma of whether you fess up that you know at least one, if not all of the cards, is from your mum.

So while I think that my fellow commuter’s advice is sound, I think it’s a tricky time for all of us.

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