- a) Buy roses, champagne and organise the honeymoon suite at your nearest five-star?
- b) Casually ignore February 14, playing it off as just another day in the year? Or,
- c) Panic, organise a business trip and hope to god your partner won’t notice?
It’s not easy. Valentine’s Day means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To some it’s the height of romance. To others — many cynical Kiwis, for example — it’s a pile of horse hay. Often, couples go into their first Valentine’s Day together without knowing who thinks what. But don’t fall into the trap thinking it was invented by Hallmark: the tradition of St Valentine’s Day as something rooted in romance stretches as far back as the High Middle Ages. So you can stop being a cynic right now.
Where do you stand?
Let’s start with the obvious. Don’t take option c), unless you’ve been with your partner for 20 years and you know exactly how that’s going to go down (or maybe you’re looking for a terrible way to break up with somebody). But a) or b) — which do you choose? Do you go all out or do you duck for cover and pretend like nothing’s happening? The honest answer is, it depends. Learning how to approach Valentine’s Day is as much about how your partner’s feelings as it is your own. But if you discover you have wildly different thoughts on the matter then you might want to take that as a sign that this particular relationship isn’t going to last.
If you both don’t have a clue how you feel about Valentine’s Day, simply play it by ear. It’s easy to say you don’t give a damn, until February 14 comes and every other couple is exchanging flowers, chocolates or extravagant gestures. Talk to your partner about it and, even if you start out from different perspectives, you can usually meet somewhere in the middle.
Romance is priceless, but it comes cheap
And, like many things in life, keeping it simple is often best. After all, five times out of seven it falls during the week, making it difficult to do anything too involved. In this part of the world Valentine’s Day comes around when the days are still long, so maybe pack a picnic hamper and head for the botanic gardens. Or research a cheap eat in an unusual spot and follow it up with a couple of quiet drinks. Keep the night free of clutter.
Just the two of us
Of course, every time you step out with your significant other it should be like a romantic date. But the beauty of Valentine’s Day is that it’s a perfect excuse to eliminate the noise: the pesky calls from friends and family, that one last check of the emails. The trick, though, is to not to succumb to noise of a different kind. Avoid big restaurants full of couples, unless that’s precisely your thing. Avoid extravagant presents. And avoid sharing your evening on social media (at least until the next day). Just note it down in your diary beforehand, come up with a simple way to mark the occasion, and make sure you get out of work on time. Then you can just let it flow. The focus should be on enjoying each other, not impressing each other.
And if you don’t want to do anything, then that’s fine too… as long as you already regularly dedicate special time to your significant other. How you get your romantic fix is up to you — just as long as you’re actually getting it.