Valentine’s Day would be a whole lot easier if all of the romantic holiday’s protocols were obvious, but the day can be filled with subtle hints, missed cues, and inadvertent messages.
Tropes have developed, deflated, and come back with a vengeance, making it totally unclear if either partner should book a restaurant reservation or buy a gift.
Don’t stress. Here are six tips for winning at Valentine’s Day, no matter your budget or particular relationship status.
Cook at home
Movies have convinced everyone that a romantic dinner out at a restaurant is the only way to win hearts. But dinner at home is often more romantic. You can cook a dish that’s special to the two of you, or just fits with your diets, and you can dine in a space where you’re both comfortable. If Valentine’s Day comes early in a relationship, cooking can be a great way to prove your abilities in the kitchen and to show off your well-kempt apartment. If you're further on in a relationship, cooking together can be a fun way to perk up the romantic spark. Just be sure to clean up before hand, and don’t try to pull off any over-the-top dish you’ve never attempted before.
Make plans together
Surprises can be romantic -- or disastrous. Hedge your bets by openly making plans with your partner. The two of you can have fun planning a walk on the beach, spa day, or live concert. You know what’s truly romantic? Setting and meeting reasonable expectations.
Skip physical gifts in favor of experiences
Picking out the perfect present on Valentine’s Day is pretty much impossible for many reasons, most of all because there are no real rules for the holiday. The rules are a bit clearer for winter holidays or birthdays, but there are truly no rules when it comes to V-Day. So opt instead for a class, spa day, or other romantic experience the two of you can enjoy together. The memory of your time together will trump any other gift.
Don’t buy sexy underwear for your partner
Everyone knows what clothing items their body looks best in. Unless you’re a mind reader (in which case, why are you using your powers on this issue rather than world peace), just don’t do the whole sexy underwear thing. But if you want to wear something special yourself, your partner will probably appreciate it.
Turn off your phone
Nothing kills the mood faster than distracting phone alerts. It’s not enough to simply silence your device, since you may still be tempted to check social media or news outlets throughout the day (or you may not even notice you’re using your device until your partner gives you a dirty look). Commit to spending time IRL. It’s not only a romantic gesture in our always-on digital age, but uncompromised focus will improve the rest of your together time as well.
Don’t be scared to be cheesy
Got a love poem just waiting to burst out of you? Go for it. Found the perfect spot at the park for a picnic lunch? Lead the way. Got candles laying around you never use? Deck out the apartment for an intimate atmosphere. This is the one day of year you are fully justified to be as cheesy as you want. You may look silly, but you’ll definitely look affectionate.