Save the date!

A roundup of Valentine's Day stories: More people dumped via Facebook, but there's a boom in online romance.

By Sarah Hepola

Published February 12, 2009 2:28PM (EST)

If you browse today's papers, you'll come to two undeniable conclusions: Something scary is going on with Joaquin Phoenix, and February 14 must be coming up. Yes, that thorny dilemma known as Valentine's Day is just around the corner, along with an uptick in anxiety about about what to get, where to go, and whether to ignore the unsightly beast altogether, which more people are doing in a pinched economy. (Me? I'm buying roses for Joaquin Phoenix. And by "roses," I mean "a bong as big as a baby.")

So let's take a look at the stories about modern love ushering us toward no one's favorite holiday:

Is dating on the rise?

That's the word according to the New York Times, which says online dating sites have experienced a boom during our economic bust. had its best quarter in seven years. saw a 30 percent spike. People are at home more, whether unemployed or simply squirreling away money, and everyone seems less reluctant to throw down the credit card for ragers at the bar that might lead to ye olde bump and grind. Is love in the air -- or are we just freaked out of our minds? 

"It's an upsetting, depressing, scary time, and to have someone to relate to and to vent with would be nice," says one interviewee. 

Mi casa es su casa -- but when?

In other parts of the NYT, the question is asked: When is the right time to give your significant other the key to your place?

Well, duh. It's when you need someone to feed your cat.

Status update: You're dumped

A Daily Mail article suggests that one in five under-30s learn about the end of their relationship via a Facebook update. Poor Prince Harry: You are not alone. That number sounds a bit inflated (what, the Daily Mail would sensationalize?), but I can imagine that when you are involved in those strange, twisting, are-we-dating-or-not situations so native to our 20s, it could be a blessed relief to clarify things with the simple click of the button. 

Chocolate: the backlash

MSN goes with a grim photo essay about the dark side of the chocolate industry, which has been accused of child exploitation.  Meanwhile, a story in the LA Times offers up a bunch of Nutella recipes, which is possibly only exciting for those of us prone to eating the stuff like yogurt. But, as the story explains, Nutella "can be an obsession, a habit, even a cult."

Animal attraction

In Battle Creek, Michigan, one very smart zoo seized the moment with their "Zoorotica" program, which offers "an intimate look at animal mating rituals." Tickets are sold out. It even got a breathless Drudge Report link: "Michigan zoo charges $50 to watch animals having sex!"

Well, since Americans don't seem to be doing it much these days, maybe we could use a few lessons.

Still looking for a date?

This just in from Jezebel: "30 Rock"'s Judah Friedlander -- he of the deadpan delivery and daily baseball cap -- is among 140 single folk in Time Out's "Date These New Yorkers."  His ideal date, according to his write-up: "At midnight, we go to the top of the Empire State Building, have my spaceship pick us up and take us to the to the top of the Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island, and as it’s moving, drop us off in the last car. Then get hot dogs at Nathan’s. Then hit the beach at 3am, where I wrestle a giant octopus. Then go back to Queens for some Croatian food and bagels. And then play Ping-Pong and Pac-Man."

Yeah, but will there be Nutella?

Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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