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ON THE PROWL

by Britt Chester

Valentine’s Day is the quintessential Hallmark holiday, which makes it the worst holiday. It’s the one day during the year where the color red “” a color commonly associated with passion, seduction, anger and, in some parts of the world, where the color is a preface for a particular district, sex “” is used to show how much you love and care for your significant other. It’s the day where single people, either by choice or lack of options, are force-fed the bubbly romantic antics of couples who proudly display their acts of affection on the Internet or other social media devices. It’s the day that restaurants offer specials on couples meals or when champagne is put on a special price point to attract more customers. It’s the day where love, despite race, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation, can thrive.

But that’s not the case for everyone. Some people loathe the holiday.

Some people dread waking up realizing they forgot to snag a dozen roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates, or forgot to make reservations at a loved one’s favorite restaurant. Some people wake up wondering how this day of love is upon them, again, and why they are spending it alone.

Not all is lost fair lads and fair maidens. There are options. In the world we currently live in, love is a business, whether you order from an online source or scour the deep, dark pages of Craigslist to hopefully find a potential mate, if only for one night.

We understand that love is not easy. We understand that not everyone has someone to deliver roses to or someone to wake up next to and whisper sweet nothings in their ear. We understand that love is a business, aside from also being a verb, and that self-love, shared love, polyamorous love or any other derivation is the best form of love. We’ve got the run down on all the great things you can do in the Triad, on Valentine’s Day, or otherwise, in order to find the kind of love you need.

DIGITAL ACTION

Given that this is the 21st Century, and from an evolutionary standpoint our posture is going to gradually tilt forward because nearly everything we do and everything we interact with is housed in a small, metallic telecommunication device that fits nicely in your pocket, we want to help you find some form of love using that nifty contraption.

There are so many applications and websites that offer connections that it’s nearly impossible to run down all of them, but we are going to give you the low-down on some of the most popular ones. That doesn’t mean we don’t support you searching for a barn mate on FarmersOnly.com or hoping to find an ex- or soon-to-be-NBA player on TallFriends.com, but the frequent flyers in the category of impulse stimulation are but a mere handful.

One of the most popular ones to date “” that being a testament to our current society’s need for immediate satisfaction “” is Tinder. This is the Golden Corral of dating applications. Literally, a buffet of men and women are streamed to your device and all you have to do in order to connect is swipe either left or right. If you swipe right, you have chosen to “Like” the person in the picture. If you swipe left, you have chosen to not like the person in the picture. If the person in the picture sees your photo while on a Tinder-bender and swipes right, the two of you are a match the lines of communication open up for messaging.

This is sort of the first date or the introduction. It means that the two of you can chat, set up a date, or possibly arrange for a tryst, the latter of which seeming to be the most common alternative.

But looking for love on Tinder is like looking for fresh sushi in a landlocked state: you’ll find some form of it, but it’s probably second-rate, older than you’d like and nothing like the picture on the menu (or screen.)

People on Tinder are looking for different things, but for Valentine’s Day, just be as up front as possible with what you want. There’s no shame in any game, and if it’s just sex and comfort that you’re looking for, say it. If it’s dinner, a movie, and maybe some sex afterwards, say that. If it’s a box of chocolates and someone to comfort you, make that clear.

Another option, and this one is strictly for the ladies, is SeekingArrangement.com. This is a website where females can create an account seeking a Sugar Daddy. Yep, a Sugar Daddy. A Sugar Daddy is an older gentleman who provides monetary compensation for company. Essentially, this is prostitution, but without strictly stating it on the website, it’s a form of finding love.

“Enticed by the average monthly allowance of $3,000 most Sugar Babies receive, as well as job opportunities and mentorship brought on by wealthy benefactors, over 1.4 mil. students use the site,” said a press release from the company. It went on to explain that because tuition rates are so high for students, websites such as SeekingArrangement.com are a great alternative.

But let’s just call a spade a spade: This is prostitution at it’s techiest.

However, that doesn’t mean that love can’t be found there, even if the love is paid for by an older gentleman that doesn’t mind dropping boatloads of cash on a young, debt-ridden female.

Also according to the press release, more than 230 students at UNCG are currently registered on the website. So perhaps you might be wondering how your friend can afford those new clothes or how she always has enough money to fill her gas tank and pick up bar tabs at some of the nicer bars around town “¦ she could be a sugar baby, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Again, love can be found just about anywhere, and everything has a price.

If perhaps you associate closer sexually with the same gender, then the dating application Grindr is designed just for you. This application is more geared toward the gay, bisexual and bi-curious men of the world. Launched in 2009, the application quickly gained traction and became the go-to application for males looking to hook-up. The application won various awards and now claims more than 4 million members.

Even guys get lonely on Valentine’s Day, what with all the lovey-dovey displays of affection flashing across their screens, so Grindr is probably going to be your best bet in finding that one- or two-night stand, depending on how well things go with the initial introduction.

We would be remiss if we did not mention Craigslist and Backpage.com, two websites where you can find jobs, housing or “casually encounter” a potential mate.

Backpage.com has been under investigation since 2011 when law enforcement officials learned that the website was being used for sex trafficking. A 2012 study compiled by Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, an associate professor at Arizona State University, and the Phoenix Police Department showed that out of 1,145 postings on the website, 900 of them were for sex and prostitution.

Consensual sex is one thing, but if you are hunting for it in a place that is linked to sex traffic, well, you’re definitely looking for love in the wrong place.

Craigslist hasn’t really felt the effects of sex traffic, most likely because of “flagging” options and a strict policy on monitoring postings.

If you do happen upon a post on Craigslist or Backpage.com that seems enticing, be safe about it. Don’t meet anyone in a dark alley, and definitely don’t give your home address. If you’re a female, make sure you meet your date in a public place or with friends so they can vet the hook-up for you. Safety first.

REAL CONNECTION

Obviously, the Internet is not the only place to find love in the Triad. Aside from your usual watering holes, whether they are a dive bar or an upscale dining location, there are plenty of options that offer help on Valentine’s Day to kickstart that spark in your love life.

Gentlemen’s clubs always see a surge in attendance when the heart-shaped everythings start flooding the shelves at stores. And with good reason: the exotic dancing ladies provide a bit of respite from the daily stresses, especially those associated with love and love-lost.

“For people who might not have somebody, it’s nice that they can come here and have a little bit of fun,” said Joey Bien, owner of Treasure Club Adult Entertainment and Sports Bar & Club located in Greensboro.

Treasure Club is open all year, but Bien is quick to recognize that Valentine’s Day can be a little hard for anyone who might not have that special someone to come home to.

“I mean, there are girls that are here on Valentine’s Day, so we understand,” he added.

Kimmy, an entertainer at Treasure Club, mentioned that the establishment is gifting one one-on-one dance for everyone who pays admission to the venue.

“We get a good amount of couples on Valentine’s Day,” Bien said. “It’s a getaway, a fantasy, if you would.”

The Triad has a lot of gentlemen’s clubs scattered throughout the region, and if your cup of tea on Valentine’s Day happens to need a little bit more sugar than you’re used to, they are definitely worth checking out.

Then of course you’ve got your adult specialty shops. You know, the ones that you were told not to go near when you were a kid, or perhaps, the ones you are scared to go into now because of the preconceived notions embedded in you about exploring your sexual self.

“With 50 Shades of Grey hitting on Valentine’s Day, we are having that dual customer come in,” Lisa Morel told us. Morel, a veteran of 25-plus years at Adam & Eve, an adult shop located on Spring Garden in Greensboro (it used to be called Night Dreams, but was purchased by Adam & Eve and changed names years ago).

Adam & Eve offers everything your dirty little mind can muster, especially if you’ve recently finished the 50 Shades series and are getting some kinky ideas as to how you’d like to spice things up in the bedroom.

But Morel also added that not everyone needs a partner, and sometimes it’s better that way.

“Valentine’s has always been one of our busiest times,” she added. “We also get a lot of single ladies who come in together in groups and they celebrate [Valentine’s] together as a group.”

Morel mentioned all the of the various things that women, and men, can purchase in the store, nodding to the multitude of toys, games and books that can meet the demands of the diverse clientele.

“Valentine’s is an amazing holiday for us because we get the customer that has never come in before, and we gain a customer for life,” Morel said.

For Valentine’s Day, places such as Adam & Eve, Priscilla McCall’s, Miranda’s Adult Toy Store and Annabelle’s Adult Supercenter prepare for everything. The staffers at these places understand how conversationally taboo sex is, especially within the Bible Belt, which is just one of the ways they are able to speak so candidly with nervous and giddy first-timers who come in their doors.

For Valentine’s Day, these types of stores offer a great selection of alternative presents, especially for men who are sick and tired of buying the same Russell Stover box of drab candy.

“The gentleman come in for the sexy lingerie “” we see that same type of guy every Valentine’s day,” she added.

But remember fellas, that’s not all you have to buy.

This Valentine’s Day, go ahead and try something else out. Maybe your special someone is wanting a little spanking after reading that one chapter in 50 Shades of Grey or maybe she wants to be the one giving the spanking “¦

Morel also talked about how it’s best when couples come in together, ask a lot of questions and leave satisfied, rather than confused.

The last thing you want to happen on Valentine’s Day is to not be happy.

The final option for those seeking love, in whatever place, is just to go out and find it. You can scroll through every single image on every single online dating application, drop every last dollar bill on the stage at a gentlemen’s club or purchase every last toy and corset you think will turn your mate on, but the best thing is and always will be face-to-face interaction.

And guys, if that doesn’t work, you can always buy a puppy, a dozen roses, a bottle of champagne and walk the streets until you happen upon true love.

And ladies, we think you like puppies, roses and champagne, so at least give us a smile for trying.

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