Are New Yorkers Feeling the Love?

A musician playing on an L train passing under the East River. A delicately-wrapped bouquet of roses left behind on a seat. Couples sneaking hugs on the platform. On the Saturday night before Valentine’s Day, there were signs of romance and friendship on the subway. Here’s what some New Yorkers (and one couple from New Jersey) in transit had to say.

Interviews have been condensed and edited.

Delon Charles and Amanda Medina, a couple for a year, but friends for over 10

Delon Charles, left, and Amanda Medina.

Charles, 30, is a T-Mobile supervisor and musician from Flatbush, Brooklyn. Medina, 30, is a patient coordinator and podcast host from Bushwick, Brooklyn.

What’s the secret?

Charles: Establish a friendship first.

Do you feel like New York is romantic?

Charles: If you can find romance here, then it’s going to last.

Do you feel like the subway is romantic?

Medina: Definitely not. We were just sitting over there and it smelled like pee. We were trying to cuddle.

Do you have any tips for couples in New York on how to survive?

Charles: Go 50/50.

What do you mean?

Charles: New York’s expensive.

Matthew Conley and Paul Passavant, a couple for almost five years

Matthew Conley, left, and Paul Passavant.

Conley, 38, is a marketing producer from Bushwick, Brooklyn. Passavant, 37, is a garment manufacturer from Bushwick. Sting Rae, 3, is a stay-at-home dog.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?

Passavant: We just have a reservation to one of our favorite spots — a vegan Chinese food place, Spicy Moon.

Conley: We just got engaged, too.

Tell me about that ring.

Conley: He bought it on Amazon. It was like $14. But he got me this one from Tiffany’s, which was very sweet.

Less economical.

Conley: Yeah, obviously.

Jessica Stark and Michael Murphy, a couple for five-and-a-half years

Michael Murphy, left, and Jessica Stark.

Stark is a television producer from the Upper West Side. Murphy, 71, is a retired city sanitation official from the Upper East Side.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?

Murphy: A nice steak dinner.

Stark: Club A. I was resistant to him taking me out to one of those price-fixed Valentine’s Day dinners. But he insisted.

How did you meet?

Stark: Online. People look at us and they say “oh these old codgers.”

Any tips for other couples in New York?

Stark: Whatever you can afford to do, just take joy in the fact that you have somebody to share a holiday with.

Murphy: If you both are yourself, then it’s either going to click or it’s not.

Any good desserts for the steak dinner?

Stark: I think there might be a box of chocolate waiting at home for you tonight.

Murphy: Oh boy.

Marlie Bien-Aimé and Nina Lora, friends going on two years

Nina Lora, right, and Marlie Bien-Aimé, to her immediate left.

Bien-Aimé, 22, is a student from Jamaica, Queens. Lora, 22, is a city education department employee from Highbridge, Bronx.

Are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this year?

Lora: Yes — with myself.

Are you going to take yourself out?

Lora: I bought myself gifts, I’m going to get myself flowers, have dinner, have chocolate, have wine.

Bien-Aimé: I might try to practice a little self-care.

Do you think the pandemic has changed how people experience Valentine’s Day?

Bien-Aimé: I don’t think it stopped the idea of love in the city.

Nia Sanders and Madeline Ettinger, a couple for officially a month, but started dating in April

Madeline Ettinger, left, and Nia Sanders.

Sanders, 26, is a software engineer and artist from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Ettinger, 24, is an account manager from Gramercy Park, Manhattan.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this year?

Ettinger: I planned a little surprise evening. So we’re going to go get drinks and then get dinner at a place that’s historically significant to our relationship. But she doesn’t know where or what it is yet.

Is that stressful?

Sanders: No. We were just talking about how I love a good, thoughtful surprise.

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day as a holiday?

Ettinger: I think it’s just a chance to celebrate someone who you get to also celebrate every day.

Mauricio Suarez and Sofia Sarlat, a couple for five years

Mauricio Suarez, back, and Sofia Sarlat.

Suarez, 33, is a forensic investigator from Jersey City, N.J. Sarlat, 27, is a singer, also from Jersey City.

How did you meet?

Sarlat: Salsa dancing in New York.

Who was the better dancer at first?

Sarlat: Mauro.

Suarez: She asked me to dance.

Any tips for couples in New York?

Sarlat: Communication’s everything. Never lie.

Suarez: Even if it’s a small white lie — no need to do that, because then that becomes a larger issue.

Do you feel like the subway is a romantic place?

Sarlat: Actually, our first kiss was at this station.

Elisa Parker and Chad Conner Crow, a couple for four years, but friends for 16

Chad Conner Crow, left, and Elisa Parker.

Parker, 51, is a social justice advocate from Brooklyn Heights. Conner Crow, 51, is a singer, also from Brooklyn Heights.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?

Parker: We are going to the ‘70s Soul Jam at the Beacon Theater tonight. During the pandemic, we really got into so much of the ‘70s funk and soul music. It’s all about love. It’s all about story.

Any tips for couples in New York on how to celebrate?

Parker: No matter what you do, feel good about yourself, keep on dancing and do things that make you feel good — and get with the funk.

Conner Crow: Yes. Funk can be sweet.

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