It's that time of year when love — or the commercialization of love — is in the air. Can you feel it? We can at CITY, and we're delighted to present our first-ever Sex, Love & Relationships issue. We hope it helps get you in the mood for Valentine's Day, or at least get through the holiday.

There is, of course, a roundup of ideas for romantic outings and date nights. But this isn't your run-of-the-mill list of tired, stereotypical gestures. Declan Ryan points you toward some signature Rochester locations and activities that sometimes get overlooked around Valentine's Day. If you're seeking heart-melting pastimes that defy convention, you've come to the right place. Also, we offer some practical health resources and services to help you stay safe out there in the dating world.

For more great insight into sex and relationships Amanda Chestnut speaks to local inclusive sex educator and yoga instructor Jenna Weintraub about her work in helping to cultivate body confidence, positive sexual self-expression, and environments of communication and support. Contemporary romance novels can be a surprising source of enlightenment when it comes to the all-important issue of consent. Emily Hessney Lynch provides healthy examples of mutually enthusiastic encounters and clear communication in literature.

Though often misunderstood, tarot cards can be used as an effective tool for self-reflection and thoughtful approaches to romance and relationships. Music Editor Daniel Kushner and tarot reader Fayebriel Barrette discuss how tarot can give you clarity on your love life, as well as some tips for those looking to get into reading cards.

If none of the above resonates with where you're at, and you're blissfully unattached, CITY staff writer Gino Fanelli sings the praises of intentioned singledom.

And for exclusive, reader-generated playlists of Rochester songs about love and despair, go to Here's to feelin' the love!

Daniel J. Kushner and Rebecca Rafferty form the arts and music editorial squad at CITY Newspaper. They can be reached [email protected] and [email protected].

In This Guide...