When my now husband and I approached our first Valentine’s Day, we weren’t even really together. We had been out a couple of times, talked irregularly on the phone, and had only just established that we wanted to spend more time together in the future. Before we could even talk about our plans, or lack thereof, for the holiday, he planned a movie night with friends, invited me, and that was that.
A movie night was the perfect solution for our brand new relationship, but looking back, I can see how awkward it could have been to navigate Valentine’s Day as a newly dating couple. When you are still figuring out how you feel about each other, how are you supposed to celebrate a holiday that is all about love and romance? Here are three tips for celebrating when you are newly dating.
Talk it out
Whatever you do, don’t avoid talking about how you will spend the day simply because you are nervous about an awkward conversation. Ignoring Valentine’s Day when you are newly dating may seem like an easy out, but it is also a recipe for disappointment and unmet expectations. The conversation doesn’t have to be a big deal, just touch base a couple weeks out to see what the other is thinking and don’t be afraid to speak your mind. If you aren’t ready for the pressure that comes with Valentine’s Day, be honest. Likewise, if you hope to celebrate or have certain expectations, be upfront about that, too.
Consider a compromise
A movie night with a few friends was a great idea for my husband and me when were just starting to date. We were able to spend the evening together, like we had both hoped, but it was completely low-pressure and a good jumping-off point for spending more time together in the future. If you want to be together for Valentine’s Day but think dinner out seems too intimate for your new relationship, think about a compromise that feels more comfortable for the both of you. Outside of hanging out with friends, a casual brunch, spending time outside hiking or ice skating, or visiting a museum are all low-pressure ideas that still allow you to connect on Valentine’s Day.
Keep gift giving simple, or skip it altogether
Gifts are a fun part of showing someone how much you care about them, but they can also create a lot of anxiety for the giver if you are still getting to know each other. Those first few weeks or months, it is so hard to gauge what type of gifts are appropriate for the maturity of the relationship. If your relationship goes the distance, there will be plenty of time to shower each other with well-thought-out presents. This year, focus on getting to know each other instead of worrying about what to buy or how much to spend. This is one of those things you should talk about in advance, deciding together if giving gifts is actually what you want. If you do decide to exchange gifts, set a precedent from the start by creating tight parameters. You could swap your favorite books or movies, pick out board games that only call for two players, exchange restaurant gift cards for future date nights, or simply set a strict budget like $20 or less.
When it’s all said and done, Valentine’s Day certainly can be special, but it is also just another day. Take a deep breath, ignore all the extra pressure, and focus on enjoying each other’s company.
Originally published on February 7, 2018.