This year was supposed to be different. You circled February 14 on your calendar so you wouldn’t forget. You preordered flowers and chocolate. You even remembered to sign the card before you sealed it in the envelope, for once. Everything you were supposed to do, you did it.
So why is your partner locked in the bedroom crying instead of ravishing you in gratitude? Where did everything go so horribly wrong—again??
We all know Valentine’s Day is the most romantic holiday of the year. And how lucky for us, that we have an official day set aside for romance! But, somehow, for a lot of people, Valentine’s can also be a minefield of miscommunication, disappointed expectations, and good intentions that dissolve in an instant into a pool of bitter, salty tears.
The truth is, it’s not that hard to give someone a genuinely romantic Valentine’s Day. You just have to remember to focus on the genuine.
Show your special someone that you really mean it by giving a “real” gift, that is, a tangible and meaningful expression of your feelings rather than just a pro forma obligation. If you follow the suggestions below, you’ll create a Valentine’s Day full of love and romance.
1. Make it Personal
Don’t fall for the trap of buying particular things—chocolates and flowers—just because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do. You’re not working through a checklist! You’re trying to express the feelings that you feel for this individual person. Do they even like chocolate? Are they allergic to flowers? Show them you know them by giving them something you wouldn’t give to anyone else, something they would never receive from anyone else.
2. Express Effort
Everyone can spot the flowers you buy at the corner bodega and the generic card you picked up from the drugstore. If you really want to show you care, then start by showing that you cared for more than a few minutes! A good Valentine’s gift doesn’t have to be laborious, but it shouldn’t look like it was slapped together at the last minute, either. Start planning a few days—or at least hours?!—in advance.
3. Be Sincere
This is important: are you giving a Valentine’s gift because you mean it? Or just so you get laid? Because it’s safe to say that people will be able to tell the difference. You don’t have to go into debt to give a sincere gift that says “I love you.” But you should be able to find a gift that makes you happy to give it.
4. Be Thoughtful
“But you already know I love you! I tell you this every day!” If that’s true, then it’s very sweet. But don’t miss the opportunity of Valentine’s Day: it’s a day that you get to make your partner feel extra special. Of course you can do this on other days, too—but the point is to treat it like a special day, not like every other day. Be aware that today is different. Be extra thoughtful and awake. Find creative ways to show your partner that you do not take them for granted. That is the real gift of Valentine’s.
An important part of giving the right Valentine’s gift is aiming for gifts that are appropriate. Maybe she loves sexy lingerie, but not so much when she’s nursing your new child! Maybe it’d be fun and romantic to buy him a red BMW convertible, but that “romance” will be wasted if it forces you both into a second mortgage you can’t afford. Maybe a getaway cruise vacation is a great Valentine’s gift, but probably not for someone you just met last week. Remember, this is an opportunity for you to show someone that you see them—so aim for a gift that’s appropriate for them and for your relationship. It’s OK if you don’t get it 100 percent “right”—we can’t always guess what other people want—but it’s important to try.
Remember, Valentine’s doesn’t have to be a “Hallmark” holiday… It will be a reflection of what you put into it. If you want Valentine’s Day to be genuinely special, make it genuinely about you and your partner.