NEW YORK – Sick and tired of whiny, bitter singles who hate Valentine's Day? So are a lot of other folks.
"There is no other holiday that puts in your face how alone you are if you're single," said Brenda Ross, Date.com's relationship guru. "But if you're in a happy relationship, it's just another opportunity to do something nice."
Despite the best efforts of the lonely cynics crowd, many couples say they very much look forward to the much-maligned day.
One such happy couple is New York actress Ariel Schwartz and her boyfriend, Lewis Silberman, who are spending a long weekend in Paris this year.
"We thought Paris for Valentine's Day was probably one of the more romantic places to go," said Schwartz before leaving on her trip. "It's a nice day to stand back and be happy for what you have ... Especially when you have someone you love."
The couple, who have been together four years, plan to do their favorite things in the world’s most romantic city: eat at the best restaurants, see the sites and spend time together.
"I love to go away and take her to beautiful places as often as I can," said Silberman, a Wall Street trader. "Nothing brings me more enjoyment."
Back in the states, Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman has just released All About Love, an album of 16 love songs for his wife Mary Beth.
"It’s something I've been thinking of doing for seven or eight years," Chapman said. "For the last six records I've had at least one song inspired by my family, and specifically by my wife."
In his songs, Chapman is frank about the difficulties of marriage. But he said getting through tough times with his wife of 18 years has strengthened their relationship.
"I can say now I’m more in love with my wife than I ever was," he said. "It sounds mushy and romantic, but it means we’ve been through the deeper, darker places together ...The best stuff comes when you walk through the hard stuff."
Chapman will perform a live Valentine's Day concert at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York. While he says it's not his ideal intimate evening with Mary Beth, he’s glad to share their relationship with fans.
"We’ll be celebrating with three to five million people on the radio and 1,000 people in this room in the museum," he said.
Ross said Valentine's Day is a perfect time for established couples to express their amour. But for people in new or shaky relationships, the holiday can be a minefield.
"If a guy forgets or doesn't do anything, the woman's probably going to end it," she said. "It puts the whole relationship under a microscope."
New couples who aren't sure how to approach the holiday shouldn't be wary, advised Ross. "If you can make a little effort to do something sweet, that can go such a long way," she said. "It doesn't have to be a gift. It could be something you made, or a small gesture."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of Americans are single. And there's no way to know how many in that group are unhappily single. But whatever the case, Schwartz said Feb. 14 doesn't have to be lonely.
"When I haven't been with a boyfriend, I'd go out with my girlfriends and celebrate and try not to be bitter," she said. "Just because you're not with someone it’s not a bad day. It's a good day to go for a drink, or stay out a little later with friends."