Here’s how to set up a successful Valentine’s Day

Here’s how to set up a successful Valentine’s Day

Whether you’re in a new relationship just beginning to blossom or celebrating many years together, Valentine’s Day’s high expectations can bring a lot of stress along with the love.

Anxiety can develop when one person takes charge, but perhaps the other is not so mindful of the importance of doing something special.

In a couple, there is often one person who is a “planner.” The other has other strengths, of course, but may not be naturally inclined to plan ahead. Moreover, just because we drop hints doesn’t mean our partner remembers what we said.

One way to make sure you’re “on the same page” is to sit down together in advance to talk about how each partner would like the day to go. This initial conversation then becomes part of the romantic build-up to the actual day and underscores the importance of joint planning and ownership of the expectations.

For those who want to lend structure to this early discussion, you could start by discussing each of your ideal Valentine’s Days, your ideas of a romantic evening, how your parents celebrated the holiday while you were growing up and what traditions you may want to establish, if any. It may be helpful to acknowledge that the day may not look the same every year.

It’s always more fun when both parties are feeling confident about what to do and what to expect. The following discussion-starters can help you eliminate disappointment and plan for success:

  • Do you want to exchange gifts or skip them this year?
  • If giving gifts, how much should we spend?
  • Dinner: stay in or go out?
  • Will we celebrate in a group or solely with each other?
  • Will the celebration be with or without alcohol?

Remember that love lasts long after Feb. 14, so it can be fun to give your loved one the gift of an experience to be enjoyed throughout the year. Many of these can be done inexpensively or without spending a penny:

  • Plan a monthly date night
  • Give a foot massage
  • Do something nice for your partner’s friend, mother, sister or aunt
  • Cook a favorite meal or prepare breakfast in bed
  • Write a handwritten note, thoughtful card or even a social media post about why he or she is so special
  • Leave little notes in unanticipated places like a coat pocket, car or bathroom mirror with thoughts about what you appreciate about your partner
  • Watch something together you both enjoy
  • Leave a trail of red foil-wrapped candies to your bedroom
  • Start with loving in the morning or even the night before. It can highlight the intimacy and specialness of being together
  • Agree to unplug for the evening
  • Make a coupon book for free activities to be redeemed throughout the year
  • Send a sweet and/or sexy text
  • Exchange a “gift list” of three non-monetary things each person would enjoy and choose one thing for this particular Valentine’s Day

Your words are important, but your body language is even more important. Be sure to maintain eye contact and lean in towards your partner. This communicates that you are interested and listening. Remember not to interrupt or make judgmental statements. The core strategy is to ensure you spend quality time with the person you love however you can.

Don’t forget you can also use this day to celebrate the power of being inclusive. Your best friends and family members, whether single or in a relationship, have lots of love to share. Put the focus on those you love to celebrate these important connections.

Dr. Joanne May is the Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.

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One Comment

  1. Johnna Kelly

    Thank you for these great tips and reminders!

About the Author

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Dr. Joanne May

Dr. Joanne May is the Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.