La Journée de l’amour is nearly upon us men. The Day of Love. That one day of the year where phoning it in with overpriced flora magically translates to: “I adore ya.” Or does it? Hate it though we may, you could be totally screwed if you mess up Valentine’s Day.

Grab the safety rails boys, I’m here to guide you through the perilous waters of the Tunnel of Love. Follow these few simple rules and you’ll have cupid asking you to be his wingman next year.

First off let us dispel the myth that women are impossible to understand. We are not. Granted you may need to be fluent in body language, have a degree in subtext, and understand the complexities of the eye roll. But it can be done. That said, since I don’t have the time for a master class here, let’s just start with a list of Do’s and Don’ts for Valentine’s Day.

Do not…
Send flowers. This is nothing more than a conspiracy by the floral industry bent on separating you from your hard earned cash. How else does one explain that the same dozen red roses that cost $25 two weeks ago will now set you back a Benjamin?

Do…
Send flowers on a random Wednesday, in the middle of the month for no other reason than to remind her how lucky you are to have her. Bonus points if you send them to her at work.

Do not…
Buy her chocolates in a heart shaped box from the local mass retailer. No, not even the velvet covered box; it’s just as tacky. Don’t get me wrong we love chocolate — heck, sometimes more than you! But this particular chocolate has it’s own subtext. It says: “I love you as much at the 427 other guys who bought exactly the same thing for their best girl.”

Do…
Buy her quality chocolate. (Note: you will not find this at any store that ends in “mart,” sells laundry soap, or has “drug” anywhere in it’s name). I’d suggest a local chocolatier or maybe switch it up with decadent baked goods. Better yet? Bake for her. You’ll totally get brownie points for that. (See what I did there?)

Do not…
Make a reservation at Chez Romantica Ristorante. In fact avoid making reservations at any eatery. Why? The restaurant industry is on to you. They know you’re all about cliche on Valentine’s Day. Because they get this, they up the price and add more tables in anticipation of your lack of imagination. She is not a sardine and therefore should not be packed in like one.

Do…
Be an original. Pack a picnic (don’t forget the wine), make her a “mix tape” and cozy up in the car. Come on, you remember high school, don’t ya? Or you could turn your house into the right kind of Chez Romantica. Cook for the two of you or put those mad food ordering skills to use. Set the table all fancy and junk and serve her up an in-home date night. DO NOT forget to get a sitter!

Do not…
Buy her anything for the house. I can not stress this enough men. Buy her a vacuum cleaner, no matter how little your current one sucks, and it’s a one-way trip to the dog house for you. Do this and I can not help you.

Do…
Buy her a luxury bathrobe, a spa set and draw her a bath in a candlelit bathroom. Get the bubbles going, put some bubbly on ice, and be prepared for greatness my friend. Note: this tactic works any time of year. Want to take off on that golf trip with your boys? Follow this formula and you’ll be hitting the links in no time.

I hope this little lesson serves you well. If you learn one thing from me it should be that Valentine’s Day is for chumps, romance is for real men. Go forth and love each other, every day!