It’s that time of the year again. Grocery stores and pharmacies are stocked with red and pink candies, chocolates, stuffed animals, and flowers. Commercials and advertisements remind us that we must do something extra special this Valentine’s Day because doing otherwise may suggest that we do not love our partners, or that we are doomed to be alone forever. Well, maybe not that dramatic, but I think we can all agree that media and society put way too much pressure on this one holiday. Whether or not Valentine’s Day is your favorite holiday, or you refuse to even acknowledge it, it is simply a day of the year where you can show the people who you love how much you care about them.
Valentine’s Day can be one of the most anxiety-provoking holidays of the year because nobody knows what they want out of it. People want to feel loved, cared for, and appreciated. But how can one date or one gift show all of that? What is the perfect or ideal Valentine’s Day gift? Do you have to get your partner a gift? What if you just started dating someone, how do you acknowledge the holiday? If you’re in a relationship or you’re single, there’s unnecessary pressure to make the day something special and out of the ordinary. The world must stop so we can acknowledge our loved ones, when in reality, shouldn’t we be telling these people we love them regularly anyway? There are so many questions regarding this holiday that cause people unnecessary angst about their relationship. This is why I have decided to make a quick guide to getting through Valentine’s Day unscathed. Here are ideas for how to celebrate Valentine’s Day if you’re single, in a relationship, or somewhere in between.
If you’re single:
Being single on Valentine’s Day can be really annoying. If you want to stay in with a bottle of wine or your favorite 6-pack of craft beer and watch crappy television, more power to you. However, there is also nothing wrong with wanting to spend the holiday with friends by going to dinner or going out to the bars. Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating all kinds of love, which definitely includes your best friends. Try to rally up a group of friends (preferably friends who are also single) and go out and have some fun! Sites like Thrillist, Time Out, Red Eye, Meet Up, and so forth show you what kind of events are going on in your city for the weekend. More likely than not, there will be all kinds of events and happy hours that are geared towards mingling with other singles. If you just want to avoid the holiday all together, then treat it like any other Saturday night. Spend time with friends, do your self-care, basically, do you. There is nothing wrong with wanting to celebrate the holiday, hating the holiday, or doing something in between the two.
If you’re just starting to date someone new:
Oof. This is definitely the most difficult situation to be in. What do you do about Valentine’s Day if you’ve only been dating someone for a couple weeks or even only a couple months? If you have not had the exclusivity conversation or the “what are we?” conversation, then I do not think you have to put too much pressure on yourself to celebrate the holiday. Simply acknowledging the holiday is there is a great place to start. If your relationship is very new, maybe have a conversation before the holiday about what the holiday means to you and how important it is to you. Guys, if a girl says she’s not super into the holiday, I would still do something, even if it’s just getting her a funny card or flowers. You don’t have to put in a lot of thought, but just acknowledge that the holiday is happening, and it can’t hurt to show her you care. If Valentine’s Day is very important to your new date, then maybe take them out of dinner or make them a dinner at home. Flowers or a bottle of their favorite wine is always an easy place to start. If you’re in a new relationship, I do not think you need to break the bank on a gift. Sometimes doing an event together can be even more special and fun than a typical dinner date. Check out what concerts, comedy shows, or other local events going on in your city.
As you are getting to know a new partner, it will be important to learn what their “love language” is. The 5 Love Languages is a concept by Dr. Gary Chapman that identifies how people like to give and receive love. The 5 Love Languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. You can find out what kind of love language you have by taking a test online here . By knowing what kind of love language you or your partner has, it will be easier to decipher what kind of gift to get them (or not give them). If their love language is Receiving Gifts, then they may enjoy jewelry, flowers, or something thoughtful. If their love language is Acts of Service, cooking a nice meal for them may win them over. If their love language is Quality Time, it may be fun to go to an event or do a new activity together. These are important characteristics to learn when dating someone new because you may have a completely different love language than your partner, or your new partner may have a different one than an ex. The best way to find out is to be direct and ask what your new love likes.
If you’re in a long-term relationship:
If you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a while, you are probably already aware of what your expectations are for Valentine’s Day. Hopefully by now you know what your partner’s love language is and have celebrated holidays and important celebrations accordingly. As you are with your partner for longer and longer, gift giving and holidays seem to be less important. While it can be easy to forget about the holiday or say we’ll celebrate next time, it is important to still remember to be thoughtful and caring during holidays like Valentine’s Day and anniversaries. Big grand gestures seem less important, and often being logical and realistic becomes more important than emotion and romance. In order to keep that spark going, you still have to put the time and effort into your relationship, even if it means celebrating “Hallmark” holidays like Valentine’s Day. Maybe spice things up by getting a new outfit that makes you feel sexy, or even doing something as simple as chores around the house that usually gets left undone until later in the week. Simple acts of love and kindness can go a long way in a relationship.
While the cutesy presents may seem important in the beginning of a relationship, it is not the expensive gifts or fancy dinners that keep a relationship healthy and happy at the end of the day. If I could give one piece of advice to sum up how to go about Valentine’s Day, I would say to not put too much pressure on yourself or your partner to make it the “most romantic day ever”. Enjoy the day with yourself, a loved one, or friends, and remember that love comes from more than just candy hearts and flowers.