Valentine’s Day is meant to be about love and relationships. For couples just starting out in a relationship it can end up feeling like an obstacle course full of opportunities for misunderstandings, overblown efforts and underwhelming gifts.
To help couples navigate that first Valentine’s Day we have 3 simple tips to help you both enjoy your day.
1. Talk about Valentine’s Day in advance
Talk to your new partner about what you should do as a couple for Valentine’s Day. Communication is the foundation of a good relationship no matter how long or short it has been. In the build up to Valentine’s Day, particularly for new relationships, it is essential.
The 14th February is a potential banana-skin for any relationship. It is loaded with expectations and often, assumptions. Not to mention the peer pressure of what his/her friend’s boyfriend/girlfriend did for them/bought for them being broadcast on social media.
If you like your new partner a lot but are not quite madly in love yet you might feel a card is sufficient. When you turn up to your work to a bouquet of roses, a giant novelty card, cuddly toy and an invite to dinner at the priciest restaurant in town, you might wish you had talked about it beforehand.
2. Romantic gestures in the movies and TV rarely translate well into real life
Whether it was Adam wearing nothing but a single red rose for Rachel in Cold Feet or Colin Firth proposing to Aurelia in Love Actually, we love sweeping, romantic gestures. But in real life they can sometimes be, at best, embarrassing or, at worst, a relationship breaker.
If you have had a discussion with your new partner in advance you should be clear on where they stand. For some a grand romantic gesture on your first Valentine’s Day would bring them nothing but joy. For others it will be mortifying. Knowing how you both feel about the day and your relationship will avoid any potentially painful (the thorns on that rose – ouch!) embarrassment.
Few relationships blossom or whither on the basis of a single Valentine’s Day so really think about what your new partner would enjoy most.
3. Agree on gifts or no gifts (and no surprises)
The question of gifts and their value is another minefield for that first Valentine’s Day together. Initially there is the stomach churning awkwardness of saying “you shouldn’t have” as you exchange your £1.50 card for a bracelet and a first edition of the Velveteen Rabbit. Then comes confusion and hurt from a complete misunderstanding of the status of your relationship and its perceived value.
Agreeing whether to get gifts or not and a price limit is a great idea. For that first Valentine’s Day agreeing no gifts but to share a night out/night in is a good starting point. If one of you is excited to give a gift (“I’ve seen something you will really like!”) then agree a realistic price limit. Once that is agreed, stick to the agreement! Do not ‘just get something anyway’. Instead of your partner feeling great they are likely to end up feeling guilty for not surprising you.
These conversations might feel awkward at the time but they are a good way of avoiding more difficult ones later. And they can go a long way to helping keep expectations in check and avoid the hurt of Valentine’s Day disappointment.
Relationship tips and advice
The Spark is a leading relationship counselling and support charity. We exist to help make relationships work for everyone in Scotland.
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