- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lots of people think they know something about maneuvering the land mines of love. But few of them try to patent their wisdom.

So the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had a lot to consider a few years ago when it received a nine-page instruction manual titled “Interpersonal Pursuit Method” that teaches men how to attract a woman, build her trust and ultimately seduce her.

“Preferably, between about four and ten hours, within about seven hours being considered optimal, is allotted for the period from the beginning of the process until its conclusion,” the application stated.

Erik von Markovik, who submitted the application in 2006, runs Venusian Arts, a Web-based company that bills itself as the ultimate source for attracting and dating beautiful women. His associates said he was too busy with an upcoming “boot camp and interactive workshops” to comment on the failed application or share his wooing wisdom, which included a process called “bait, hook, reel and release.”

The patent application was first printed in 2008 — on Valentine's Day. But no patent is on file.

Some men might attempt a similar strategy, especially on Valentine's Day, though not everyone is so confident in his methods.

Others say that Feb. 14 shouldn’t just be for lovebirds.

“There’s so much pressure around Valentine's Day for people to feel paired up,” said Craig Malkin, a Boston-based psychologist and relationship specialist. “What’s left out is a celebration of the single life, where a lot of times people who are single, they have options to explore things in their lives and choose experiences they don’t get when they’re paired off.”

Acting interested and empathetic are the best skills a pickup artist can offer, Mr. Malkin said, but he also warned that “you might find a person really physically attractive, but if you don’t take the time, you’ll probably miss red flags.”

That said, men and women are free to choose whether they want a fling or something more, and fortunately for those who are available on Valentine's Day, Mr. Malkin said, no matter the end goal, “you’ll certainly find someone to spend time with.”

Mr. Malkin isn’t the only one who can see the value in being unattached on Valentine's Day. Among the many happy hours and parties around the D.C.-area that are hosting Valentine’s events are the ones embracing singledom.

The dueling piano bar Howl at the Moon in Baltimore is encouraging jilted customers to bring photos of their ex-significant other to their “Love Sux” party in the hope of winning a $50 gift card for the best picture.

The Cowboy Cafe in Arlington is hosting its inaugural Singles Awareness celebration, which organizers said they hope will bring in some new — and unattached — folks to mix with the regulars.

Topeka, Kan.-based psychologist Harriet Lerner, author of the book “Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up” said Valentine's Day “is a commercialized holiday with a rather large ‘ick’ factor.”

“But nonetheless, it’s a good reminder for people who are dating or coupled up to make the person you’re with feel valued, loved, special and chosen,” Ms. Lerner said.

For single people, she suggested rather than focusing on finding a romance, “see it just as a day to celebrate relationships.”