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Dating Tips

How to Handle Valentine’s Day When You’re In a New Relationship

When you’ve just started dating someone

 

Valentine’s Day is more awkward than romantic. You don’t know if you should plan a lavish night on the town, buy them a gift, or simply ignore the day altogether. Here’s what two dating and relationship experts recommend.

No Matter What, Talk About It Beforehand

Before you make any sort of plans for Valentine’s Day, it’s best you talk things over with the person you’re seeing. Dr. Nerdlove, dating columnist and author of New Game +: The Geek’s Guide to Love, Sex, & Dating, told us that this is especially true if you’re someone who feels strongly about the holiday one way or the other. If you don’t like the commercialism, cheesiness, or manufactured pressure of it all, it’s best to mention it sooner rather than later.

 

Or if you like using the holiday to get into the spirit of romance, it’s important you let them know. As Vanessa Marin, licensed marriage and family therapist and Lifehacker contributor, explains, surprising them with a lavish celebration can be a recipe for disaster. It’s a huge gamble that’s more than likely going to make them very uncomfortable. And don’t stress about talking this out, says Marin:

Anyone in a new relationship feels that awkwardness around the 14th, so you’re not going to surprise your partner by bringing it up. Lead with something simple like, “I know Valentine’s Day is always such a weird thing, so…”

Get it out in the open, discuss it honestly, and come up with a plan together that makes you both feel comfortable.

If You’re Not Exclusive, Ignore the Holiday

It’s hard to measure the seriousness of a relationship with time, says Marin, since relationships unfold at wildly different paces. For some couples, dating for three weeks could mean you’ve only had one or two dates. For others, dating for three weeks could mean you’re already monogamous. So, as a general guideline, Marin recommends you base your plans off of your exclusivity, or lack thereof:

I think a better guideline to use is whether or not you’ve had “the talk” about being exclusive. Or, if you’re in non-monogamous relationships, that you’ve talked about being serious. If you’re not exclusive, I would ignore the holiday altogether.

You shouldn’t expect Valentine’s to be a big deal, especially if you’re in the first weeks of a relationship. Romance is just starting to blossom between you and your partner, so there’s no need to put any extra pressure on each other because of your timing. If it works out, there’s always next year. If you feel the need to do something, Nerdlove suggests you go with something small but cute like a cheesy card at most.

If You Are Exclusive, a Date Is Fine, but Ditch the Gifts

If you’ve had “the talk” with your partner and are now exclusive, celebrating is fine as long as it’s within reason. That said, Nerdlove still warns against anything too extravagant.

If you’ve been dating for a couple months, a simple romantic date is certainly a good way to celebrate, although I wouldn’t go overboard. My advice for couples is, if you’re not going to ignore it, then just stay home instead of trying to go out to a crowded restaurant that’s jacked up the prices. It’s more romantic, it’s cheaper and it’s a hell of a lot more fun.

Marin echoes the “dinner at home” concept, and notes a couple other perks that go along with staying in. First off, you won’t have to stress about getting a reservation on one of the busiest nights of the year. Second, you won’t make each other feel uncomfortable by surrounding yourselves with a bunch of much more serious couples. It’s just you and your partner enjoying a nice meal together without any pressure.

Even if you do have a date night, you should probably still avoid giving gifts. As Marin explains, one person inevitably ends up spending more than the other person, and both parties are left feeling awkward. And you should absolutely avoid giving any extravagant gifts, says Nerdlove. Big gifts very early on in a relationship raises a huge red flag to most people and will probably freak them out. If you’ve been together for a few months, however, and you see each other at least once or twice a week, a gift around $30 is reasonable. Maybe a book by their favorite author, or a movie you both mentioned wanting to see. Regardless, if you talk about it beforehand as we’ve advised, there won’t be any problems.

Dating Tips

How To Fix Your Relationship

Five Simple Hacks That’ll Strengthen Your Relationship In A Week

A couple in love in the sunset on the beach

When you and your girl first met, it was electric. And it was easy: You wanted to be around each other all the time, couldn’t keep your hands to yourself (why would you want to, eh?) and you found yourself smiling in your cubicle as you read her latest text (or sext). The very best of relationships all begin with the strongest, most exciting of intentions and for good reason: Why else would you make it Facebook official if you weren’t officially falling hard for this beautiful woman you met?

But, time goes on. The months pass. You have your first fight. You have trouble in the bedroom or you struggle to communicate how you feel. You turn different pages and can’t always read the same paragraph without disagreeing. While fighting is absolutely normal and healthy in a relationship, if you’re feeling like you’ve started to lose some of the luster you both had for one another — don’t let it overwhelm or defeat you.

In fact, many relationship experts agree that while deal-breaking type of issues (like one of you wants kids and the other doesn’t) aren’t as easy to overcome, other problems can work themselves out in just a week. No need to drag out a conversation or bring out those skeletons in the closet, instead try these simple — and fun! — tactics to make your relationship stronger in the next seven days:

1. Have A ‘High-Low’ Conversation

She left the entire contents of her closet on the floor before heading off to work and you come home to a mess. She drank too much wine and picked a fight via iMessage and you just can’t let it go. Or maybe, you simply get annoyed with the way she chews her food loudly sometimes — we all have grievances in relationships. And while neither of you are perfect, a perfect way to remember those things you really love about each other is talking about them. Relationship expert and therapist Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell says having a high-low conversation will get you back on track. “Take turns sharing something you love about your relationship and actually revel in the memory of the high,” she says. “Then move to the ‘low’ something in your relationship that you’d like to improve. Take time to discuss and strategize ways you can address the issue.” The thing not to forget: once you’ve set a game plan for improving the lows you both have, talk about another ‘high’ in your relationship. It’s like the goal of a compliment sandwich at performance reviews: you always want to end on a positive.

2. Go ‘Off The Grid’ For A Weekend (Or A Day)

Even if you’re in a monogamous relationship, chance are, you actually aren’t. You’re both fondling your iPhones far more often than you’re touching one another. Abrell says by stepping away from technology for a weekend (or okay — just a day if you can’t make it) — will help you reconnect. “Many couples engage in way too much screen time. Commit to going “off the grid” for a weekend,” she says. “Take a trip away or just stay home without texting, emailing, tweeting and posting. Play cards, cook a meal together, or go to the gym. Do anything other than spending time on your phones, tablets and computers!” A good way to pass the time? Might we suggest some good ‘ol fashion marathon sex? That’s way better than checking Instagram.

3. Ask More Questions

If you’ve been together for years, you may be convinced you know everything about her: from the position that makes her orgasm to remembering not to talk to her before 7 a.m. and after her first cup of coffee, but just as you change over time, so does she. Have you really taken time to get to know the woman you sleep next to each and every night? Abrell says it’s time to go back to school: “It’s time to ‘study’ each other! Read chapters in relationship books together and discuss. Buy question books and ask each other to respond. Spend time truly connecting. Stay in bed for hours exploring new sex positions. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn and how much closer you become when you study each other.”

4. Send More Sexts

Beside being able to look at boobs on your phone at work without having to worry about your internet history (hey, it’s the answer to no porn at work!) is hot in itself, but it can actually strengthen your relationship. While you and your girl may have sexted in the early days when you had sex nearly every night of the week, over time, your curiosity and passion may wane. Author and communication and intimacy expert, Sandra LaMorgese, Ph.D., says rebuilding the anticipation throughout the day will have you both rushing to bed. “A good way to keep your relationship dynamic and exciting is to remember that the steamiest seduction begins long before you lay a hand on your partner. Send your partner spicy little texts throughout the day, talking about how and what you are going to do to each other once you get home,” she says. “Once your partner is in your mind, sexually, your body will follow soon after, and so will theirs.”

5. Say ‘Thank You’ As Often As You Say ‘I Love You’

By now your girlfriend’s name could be Sally-I-Love-You. You likely say those three (not so) little words so many times that you’ve forgotten just how special they are. But here’s another phrase that you might not say as often (but should): ‘thank you for _______ babe.” Relationship expert Dr. Jane Greer says expressing gratitude is just as important as expressing love (and aren’t they one-in-the-same?) “Your partner might not be doing monumental things: Cooking dinner, folding and putting away the laundry, making the morning coffee, keeping the apartment clean, but they all do matter to you, don’t they?” She says. “Remember to thank your partner instead of just expecting them to be done and often times, taking them for granted.”