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The University of Alabama

UA Matters: Happy (Atypical) Valentine’s Day

Dr. Christopher Lynn

Dr. Christopher Lynn

More so than other holidays, Valentine’s Day can be an opportunity to show a special person how interesting and thoughtful you are, but it also puts a fair amount of pressure on us to rise to an occasion if we’re coupled or feel a sense of absence if we’re not.

However, Dr. Christopher Lynn points out that Valentine’s Day can be viewed another way—as a day to remind ourselves that, as a social species, we are most likely to experience happiness through celebrating friendship and our bonds with others.

With that in mind, here are six ways you can celebrate the default social side of your human-ness this Valentine’s Day:

  • Celebrate Singles’ Awareness Day ( in addition to, or instead of, Valentine’s Day. If you go out to eat or to a movie, be sure to invite a friend. If you have a date in mind with a special someone, each of you should invite a friend along. You will all have much more fun.
  • Dress up for a good cause! Find a local fundraising event to attend, and spend a night on the town helping your favorite charity.
  • We aren’t the only social species that needs support on Valentine’s Day. Many of our furry friends need your care on this holiday and throughout the year. If you have a favorite animal species, look online for charitable ways you can warm their hearts (and yours) this Valentine’s Day.
  • If you are really ambitious, you can make a road trip to the Kinsey Institute of sexological research at Indiana University ( If you’re in the mood for love, you’re sure to find something to further pique your interests.
  • If you’re struggling for gift ideas for that special someone or that friend you roped into hanging out with you, consider something different like canned unicorn or dragon meat or ghost pepper candies. (You’re not really surprised these items are available for sale online, are you?)
  • Finally, buy a real plant instead of dying flowers. It will produce breathable oxygen, and if the recipients are not plant people, visiting them to water it will give you more excuses to socialize.

Lynn is an assistant professor of anthropology in UA’s College of Arts and Sciences.


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The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.