Figuring out what to do for your first Valentine's Day as a couple can be daunting, to say the least. When you haven't been together that long, you might not even be sure you're ready to celebrate such a romantic holiday, much less know where you'd like to go to dinner. It can quickly turn into a high-pressure situation, and one that doesn't seem very fun.
"Valentine’s Day can be a very stressful time, especially for new couples," Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "For many people, Valentine’s Day can feel like a test they have to pass rather than a day to celebrate their relationship." It's tempting to overthink the day, but it's way better to chat about it early on so you can get on the same page and both have a good time.
Whether you want to celebrate Valentine's Day or not, it's best to let your partner know what you're looking for, and then hear them out. From there, you can focus on the smaller details, like cards and gifts. Read on for more ways to navigate your first Valentine's Day together as a new couple, according to relationship experts.
Chat About Your Expectations
Since your relationship is on the newer side, you might not know how your partner feels about Valentine's Day. And that's why the best place to begin is by sharing your views on the holiday and talking about what you'd both like to see happen.
"People have very different opinions and expectations about Valentine’s Day," Bennett says. You might not be the biggest fan, while your partner is secretly hoping for roses and fireworks. Or vice versa.
Make a point of being honest, and getting everything out on the table early on. From there, you can rest assured you'll be approaching the day with similar expectations.
Try Not To Overthink It
"Valentine’s Day can be stressful for many new couples since they hope to make a good impression and worry about disappointing their partner," Bennett says. But ultimately, it's just an excuse to spend some time together — and maybe treat yourselves — so keep that in mind.
As the day approaches, remember there are no hard and fast Valentine's Day rules, either. Instead, it's all about figuring out what seems right for your relationship and sticking to that.
Don't Go Overboard With Gifts
A big part of Valentine's Day is the gift giving segment, which often includes doling out flowers, cards, jewelry, and so on. But since it's your first time celebrating together, you won't want to go overboard.
"If it's a new relationship, I would be cautious when it comes to gift giving and not getting something that doesn't match the intimacy/closeness of where the relationship is," Becca Hirsch, M.A., LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "That being said, it really does depend on the relationship and what precedent has already been set."
This is where chatting will come in handy as you decide what seems right. If you've only been together a month, you may not want to invest in something too pricy, Hirsch says. But it's up to you. There are so many ways to surprise each other, from flowers, to thoughtful cards, to fun experiences you can share together.
Choose The Right Setting
When you're new to a relationship, it can take a while to get to the staring-at-each-other-across-a-candlit-table stage, and that's OK. If you aren't there yet, make a point of keeping things casual, at least for the time being.
Hirsch suggests doing a fun, low-pressure activity together like going bowling or playing games at a bar.
Start Your Own Tradition
The cool thing about a new relationship is that it's a blank slate, which means you can literally come up with whatever you'd like to do, including creating your own tradition for Valentine's Day.
"On your first Valentine’s Day as a couple, consider making it special in a way you’d like to repeat every year," Christine Scott-Hudson, MA, MFT, ATR, a licensed psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle.
If you're all about tradition, you might choose a restaurant and decide to go back to that same spot again and again, Scott-Hudson says. But this can also be a great time to get creative, go off the beaten path, and shape the day into exactly what you'd like it to be.
Resist Comparing Your Day To Anyone Else's
As Kara Lissy, LCSW, a licensed psychotherapist at A Good Place Therapy, tells Bustle, "It will help you keep the focus on your own feelings and relationship, and help you decide how and if you want to celebrate"
Go Into Full Corny Mode
Of course, if all else fails — and you find yourselves at a loss on Valentine's Day — you might want to purposefully lean into the cheesiness the day has to offer, and enjoy all things heart-shaped.
"Have fun with it, regardless of how corny others may think it is, or even if you've perceived Valentine's as 'corny' in the past," Jennifer Weaver-Breitenbecher MA, CAGS, LMHC, a licensed psychotherapist and owner of a private practice, tells Bustle.
You may even find that these vibes actually fit perfectly with how you've been feeling. "During the first nine to 12 months of dating someone, our bodies are coursing with dopamine and serotonin (your feel-good neurotransmitters)," Weaver-Breitenbecher says, "so you often want to scream your feelings for someone from a rooftop."
Whatever you decide to do, know that Valentine's Day doesn't have to be stressful or overwhelming when you're a brand new couple. Simply remaining honest about your expectations, and allowing yourselves to enjoy the day, may be all you need to do.