Ah, Valentine’s Day. Depending on where you are in a relationship (or where you’re not), it can be a day of roses and chocolates, love letters and hearts, uncertainty and stomach pangs, or leftover Pad Thai and a whole bottle of wine to drink solo. Whatever your situation this Valentine’s Day, I want to provide some date ideas for any stage in a relationship:
Couples in very long-term relationships (including marriage):
At this stage, you may have already exhausted your cute and romantic ideas when you were trying to woo each other at the earlier stages of your relationship. (If you still have a few tricks up your sleeve, good for you!) Something as simple as a romantic dinner out (especially if you have kids) to spend some quality time together will still be a great date idea. Oftentimes, once people enter long-term, committed relationships, they forget that the “dating” part is not over. (I personally think it should never be over.) And a well-thought card expressing your love for each other goes a long way. Don’t take this stage for granted.
Couples in new relationships:
This is probably the most fun place to be for Valentine’s Day. You likely get butterflies just thinking about spending your first V-Day together. If you want to buy into the holiday (and I do partially mean literally, with the cards, flowers, and chocolate), then go for it! Why not? Go for a romantic dinner, take a weekend trip, feed each other chocolates. And if that’s not your style, then go crazy watching (or making fun of?) other people doing this stuff! Or just keep it low key if that’s more your thing, and declare it your own celebration. Maybe you’ll go ice skating or to see a movie, but you’re still doing something to acknowledge the day. Just have some fun – there’s nothing to lose!
People who just started seeing each other and aren’t sure where it’s going:
This is where things may get a bit hairy. I’ve had clients ask me, after having gone on one or two successful dates, “What do I do for Valentine’s Day? Do I make a big deal of it? Do I even acknowledge it? Do I buy something?” This holiday adds so much undue pressure on things, pressure that is not necessary. I would treat your next date like any other second or third date, without the “V-Day pressure” creeping in. Maybe you’ll go to a comedy show, or maybe you’ll go play Connect Four at a bar. If you want to go out with someone on Friday, great! If not, great! I wouldn’t buy into the hype when things are so fresh. The best thing you can do, whether you go out on V-Day or not, is to simply say, “I’m really excited to see where things go.” It’s honest, sweet, and simple.
Do not fret! Some people think that being single on Valentine’s Day is the kiss (or lack thereof, as the case may be) of death. It’s not. Do you know why? You don’t have to pay a fortune for these fixed-priced menus, you won’t gain weight from eating the entire heart-shaped box of pecan clusters in one night, and you don’t have to read through all of the sappy Hallmark cards at CVS to try to pick just the right one. This holiday can be what you make of it, and I encourage you not to make a big deal of it. It’s just a day after all. Go out like you normally would on a Friday night. Have a ladies’ night or a guys’ night. No need to make faces at all of the people in couples. Instead, remember all of the blessings you have in your life… most importantly right now, your freedom.
Whatever you decide to do this Friday, stay true to yourself, and don’t let the pressure get the best of you. If you’re with the right person, have a ball, and if you’re not, well, have a ball, too. It’s Friday night, after all. (Plus, for anyone who knows me, while I’m both a dating coach and a sucker for romance, my favorite 14th is actually in March. I love Pi Day! Any excuse to let my inner nerdom come out is okay with me!)
Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter for updates and tips.