Sharing Stories of Breakups and Bad Dates on Valentine’s Day

For every hopeful story of love, there is a crushing tale of pain. For every soaring moment, an awkward stumble. If Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love in its entirety, shouldn’t we acknowledge the dark side of romance too?

On a frigid February day, we made our way from Midtown Manhattan to City Hall, wandering into food halls and shopping centers for warmth and asking strangers to tell us about their worst dates, breakups and Valentine’s Days.

There were plenty of tales of woe and sadness, but they were told with humor and hope. We took comfort in the words of one woman, who was sunbathing in full winter gear in Bryant Park (but who, sadly, did not want to be photographed). “The great thing about getting old is you can forget all the bad stuff,” she said.

And in the meantime, know this: We’ve all been there.

CreditKrista Schlueter for The New York Times

Patrick Smith, ‘25 to 54’

Driver, Queens

What’s the worst thing that you’ve witnessed in this car?

I had this bride and groom, and I guess he wasn’t following the directions he’d been given because he took forever to get to the church. He was waiting for his family. His bride had said, “Forget about your family. You get there on time. Get there first.”

After the wedding, her and him got in the car and we drove out to a spot by a country club, and she cursed him out. And then when she was finished, she said, “O.K., let’s go back to the church.”

CreditKrista Schlueter for The New York Times

Elyse Fox, 28

Activist and filmmaker, Brooklyn

What is the worst Valentine’s Day you’ve ever had?

I was with my ex for about five years. He was being so secretive that I thought he was hiding something cool and it was going to be a big surprise. And I came home and there was nothing.

Was that your last Valentine’s Day together?

Yes. It certainly was.

What’s the worst date you’ve been on?

I went on a date with this guy. He asked me maybe one question, “How are you?” And from then, it…

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