By Danielle Kam
Valentine’s Day can come with a lot of expectations—expensive dinners, extravagant gifts, professions of love, and so much more. While that formula may work for some, other couples, specifically ones in new relationships, may be looking for low-key ways to celebrate the holiday. If you’re seeking more mellow options, read on for advice on how to keep Valentine’s Day stress-free while still making it meaningful.
Set your expectations beforehand
Like with most things in relationships, open and honest communication is key: You’re not a mind reader and neither is your partner! If you want to keep it calm, love coach Emyrald Sinclaire suggests being straightforward by saying something like, “It’s not that important of a holiday to me, but I’d love to cook dinner or spend the day together.” By communicating your desires and expectations directly, you and your partner will know exactly what the other wants, which removes the pressure of trying to guess.
Another good pressure-relieving technique for your first (or one of your first) Valentine’s Days together is to ask your partner their thoughts on the holiday. “Is it important to you to celebrate? If so, how?” This allows for you to plan the day together and both get what you want, helping to reduce any stress or worry you may have around celebrating.
If Valentine’s Day presents are at all a source of worry, it’s a good idea to chat about them with your partner. “There’s a much lower chance of anxiety or disappointment if you agree together on whether or not you’re giving gifts,” says psychotherapist Aimee Hartstein. It can be tricky to guess what someone else is doing for you or what they might want. If you decide to exchange gifts, you can also agree on a price range so that one person isn’t spending $10 while the other spends $100. Agreeing on what you’re comfortable with before the day can remove a lot of uncertainty and stress for both people, she says.
Consider staying in
While dinner out at a favorite restaurant may feel like the easy, go-to option, it often comes with a hefty price tag and the feeling that you need to have a great time. “All of these pressures can really ruin a holiday that is truly all about celebrating the person in your life,” says Sinclaire. Staying home can create a more relaxing vibe. This keeps things low pressure, because instead of worrying about getting the night absolutely perfect or panicking over what restaurant to go to, you can just focus on spending quality time together in a more comfortable and familiar environment.
Go against tradition
Just because the rest of the world is celebrating on the 14th, that doesn’t mean you have to. Online dating expert Julie Spira suggests celebrating the night before, the weekend before, or any other day, really. Scheduling it on your own time makes it more about your partner and less about an arbitrary date. Plus, the red-roses-and-heart-shaped-chocolates of it all will be less in your face, which will help ease the stress around the holiday.
You also don’t have to celebrate at all, says Sinclaire. “If you’ve only recently started dating someone and having these types of conversations feels stressful, then I’d suggest you skip it.” This doesn’t make your relationship any less legitimate, but if celebrating is stressing you out more than not celebrating, ditching it altogether could relieve a lot of unnecessary tension.
Ultimately, you should remember that Valentine’s Day is not about what you do (or don’t do), but about who you’re with. “The most important thing is to make sure you spend time together,” says Spira. Just treat it like a block of 24 hours on the calendar where you get to hang out and do things you love, no pressure necessary.