For more insight on how to approach the holiday, we spoke with dating coach and relationship expert Christine Hart. She explains that by being open to something new, we can find romance in new places. "The thing that trips us up is that we're not always open to all the different ways that men are romantic," Hart says.
Though we might learn what conventional romance is early on, we often don't find our own personal definitions of romance. "If we keep expecting it in one way, we won't see it when it comes in other ways," she adds. Here, Hart offers five fresh ways to celebrate Valentine's Day with your significant other.
1. Skip the cheesy card
With all of the generic cards on offer, it can be hard to take Valentine's Day seriously, but never approach the holiday begrudgingly, Hart advises. Rather than buying the same heart-shaped card you bought last year, think outside the envelope. "Make this Valentine's Day the year you start making Valentine's traditions," she says. "It's the kind of thing that builds strength in the relationship."
Your Valentine's Day tradition could be as simple as making dinner together at home without any distractions (turn off your phones; put away your laptops). Focus less on exactly what it is you're doing and more on making it a special, annual event.
2. Trade gifts for an experience
Rather than getting hung up on what to buy, think instead about what you can do with your partner to celebrate the occasion. The activity can be as simple as getting outside and spending some time being active as a couple. Being outdoors is an excellent opportunity for people to be their natural selves, Hart explains.
"Getting yourself in an environment like that as a couple can really facilitate opening up," she says. Another activity that Hart strongly recommends for couples is rock climbing. "It's not only a great way to get active, but an excellent way to build each other up."
Page 1 of 2 -- Discover romantic alternatives to buying chocolate or a fancy dinner for your sweetie on page 2
3. Nix the box of drugstore chocolates
Although chocolates are famous for being a sweet Valentine delight, there are other ways to treat your partner. Hart suggests doing something your other half will appreciate. "Try to support him in a fun way," she says. "Has your boyfriend been working a lot? Get him a week's worth of meal deliveries," she suggests. Sometimes checking something off your significant other's to-do list is more appreciated than a gift that comes in a bag or a box.
4. Forget the restaurant reservations
Making dinner reservations for Feb. 14 might seem like a good idea, but you're probably not the only one with that plan. Save the dinner out for a less popular night. Instead, make what Hart calls a "happy list." Partners each write up a list of all the things that make them happy, then exchange the lists so each person can refer to the other's throughout the year, she explains. So when your partner is having a bad week, pick something from his happy list to put a little sparkle back into his day -- no reservation required.
5. Forgo the stuffed animal
There are other ways to get that cuddly feeling. Save the stuffed animals for your kids and try a spa package instead. These can range from reasonable to expensive, but we could all use a little pampering, especially on Valentine's Day.
"For women, we just don't want to have to think about anything on that day. We really want the day to be entirely taken care of, but that puts a lot of pressure on the guy," says Hart. Rather than expecting your partner to carry the weight of making your day perfect (or footing the bill for your seaweed wrap), hit the spa together. Make it a treat for both of you and opt for a couples' package.
These are just a few ideas you can use to make Valentine's Day a great holiday for your relationship. The key is to personalize the day and do what feels special to you and your significant other. Don't feel limited to conventional gifts, and talk with your partner to see what would really make the day special for him.
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