With February 14 around the corner, you may be wondering how to celebrate Valentine’s Day when you’re in a long-distance relationship. You’re certainly not alone — 14 million couples report being in a long-distance relationship, according to a study by Statistic Brain. As someone who’s been in plenty of LDRs, I think there are two key things to making them work (aside from trust) — communication and creativity. After all, even if you don’t ever expect to be in an LDR, sometimes you and your partner find yourself in one, whether it’s for a few weeks, months, or more — and key holidays may occur at the time, such as Valentine’s Day. Or, perhaps you’re used to celebrating holidays while physically apart.
“One of the keys to a successful LDR is to maintain healthy levels of intimacy and closeness, especially during Valentine’s Day,” Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist and author of the relationship blog, You’re Just A Dumbass, tells Bustle. “Some couples use video chats, audio files, and snail mail as ways to compensate for the lack of being able to physically be in the same room. This Valentine’s Day, try adding creative elements to what you already do.”
Exactly. After all, when you’re long-distance with your significant other, everything is magnified — how often you speak, when you speak, and doing your best to keep up with each other’s lives while also maintaining your own. It’s a fine balance. Here are 15 ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day when you’re in a long-distance relationship, because the more ideas, the better, I think.
1Surprise Them And Show Up
If you’re like most people, you probably love surprises, so why not surprise your partner for Valentine’s Day? You can either show up during their lunch break, and even alert their boss ahead of time, or be waiting at their apartment when they get home from work. Of course, have a Skype date or phone call set up in the meantime, in order to throw them off.
2Have A Synchronized Skype, FaceTime, Or Nucleus Date
“Schedule a live Skype video or phone session, or FaceTime, while you both do exactly the same things together,” James Preece, aka The Dating Guru, tells Bustle. “You can watch the same movie, eat the same meal, and open gifts for each other. If you synchronize it exactly, then it’s almost as if you aren’t apart at all.” As someone who has done this very thing, I agree with Preece, and it does help you and your partner feel closer together, physically, even when you’re not.
For those of you who are more into technological ways to keep in touch, Nucleus could be the answer you’re looking for. It’s a video intercom gadget that makes you feel together even when you’re apart. It’s a touchscreen device that you can place anywhere to get connected to your partner — wither via audio or visual communication. You can also use its app version. You just tap the device you want to connect with and you’re talking with your significant other in no time! Side note and added perk: Nucleus can also use Alexa Voice technology. The device’s perks do cost — Nucleus prices start at $199 — but it’s definitely a way to up your communication styles with your partner.
3Have A Skype Dinner Date
If you haven’t watched the web series 7p/10e, do it right now. You’ll get addicted to Skype dates and be inspired to have more of your own. For Valentine’s Day, if you and your partner cannot be together IRL, have a Skype dinner date. “Begin the conversation by acknowledging how much you love and appreciate each other," Susan Winter, relationship expert and bestselling author of Allowing Magnificence, tells Bustle. "If you like, it can actually be a ‘dinner date.’ You can both bring your prepared meal into camera sight (as though you’re having an intimate dining experience).”
I have done this in the past, via Skype and phone, and it was nice to know that my boyfriend was doing the same thing at the same time. We’d take pauses in conversation to chew and to laugh, and it was perfect. And for even more LDR inspiration, check out the indie film Hank and Asha. It’ll give you all the sweet-and-romantic relationship feels, long-distance or not.
4Have A Call About Your Future Valentine’s Day Celebration
Just because you can't celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14 doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it some other time. So, on Valentine’s Day, why not make those future plans?
“Valentine’s Day is a great day for a phone or video call appointment,” Tina B. Tessina, PhD (aka “Dr. Romance”), psychotherapist and author of How to be Happy Partners: Working it out Together, tells Bustle. “While on the video, share homemade valentines and pictures of favorite romantic places you’d like to go together. Also, keep the phone (or video call) as special as you can. Handle mundane business via e-mail, IM, or text message, and keep the phone/video for making that intimate connection.”
5Send Them Handwritten Notes In The Mail
Yes, send good old-fashioned love notes to your partner. Instead of just one note or letter, you may want to send a whole bundle of them, each in separate envelopes, one for each day of February, perhaps from the first of the month through Valentine’s Day. And, of course, the last one can be the best one, so to speak. No one minds hearing how much they are appreciated by their partner and why.
"Nothing is more intimate than a love note," says Dr. Tessina. "Mail is one of the advantages living apart has over living together. Sending little gifts, notes, cards, postcards, or pictures to your partner takes only a moment and racks up a huge score on the intimacy chart. When you’re at a drugstore, grocery store, or card shop, pick up a few affectionate or amusing cards, and maybe a little gift or two (it doesn’t need to be expensive, a key chain or candle is fine), and then send them at random moments. Send a postcard with a scene of where you are, or a cartoon cut out from the paper or a magazine. Think in terms of making your partner smile as often as you can while you’re apart."
6Send Each Other Scheduled Emails
When you first started dating, maybe you sent your partner an email every night before you went to bed, so they would see it first thing in the morning. Well, if you download Chrome’s Boomerang, you can schedule your emails. So if you’re going to be swamped with meetings at work tomorrow, you can write a bunch of emails today and schedule the days and times your partner will get them. Genius, right? Personally, I love this service.
7Send Them A Care Package
If you cannot show up in person to see your valentine, send them a care package. Of course, fill it with things very personal to them, not generic gifts. Yes, you can send flowers, though that’s pretty predictable, but both would be nice. Your thoughtfulness will go a long way in showing your partner that you care and remember them.
8Create A Scavenger Hunt
Who doesn’t like a good scavenger hunt? And when it’s custom-made by your bae, it’s even better. Chances are, you know all your partner’s favorite spots, or spots they’d like to check out. So, via snail mail, set up various clues to get them from Point A to B to however-many-you-create. This one will keep your partner busy on Valentine’s Day — so they won’t feel so alone— while also reminding them how much you care about them (you put together an entire scavenger hunt!).
You can even talk to some of the places in advance and have certain surprises waiting. Of course, the last one should be ah-mazing, and should end with the biggest surprise of all — perhaps even you standing there?!
9Make Them A Scrapbook
When you make someone something by hand, you get a thousand creativity points right off the bat, not to mention it’ll make them swoon, and you’ll probably enjoy the process, of course. After all, doing things for others often makes people happy. I know, I know, it’s a digital world lately, but that doesn’t mean you can’t download your favorite Facebook or Instagram pictures of the two of you and create a three-dimensional photo album with cute captions, quotes one of you said, and memories you’ve made together.
If you don’t want to cut and paste everything yourself, you can have a company like Shutterfly help. They also make photo cubes, mugs, and other sweet and fun momentos. You can also make a My Social Book via Facebook and custom-choose which photos go into it.
10Create A Collage
Making a collage may seem similar to the scrapbook idea, but the collage is like a poster board (or something similar) full of things — yep, similar to the ones you probably had to make in grade school or high school. Plus, your partner doesn’t have to open it up to see it — it’s visible constantly.
My friend Brett did this for an old girlfriend and she loved it. Who wouldn’t, right? Of course, as with everything, the more personal you make it, the better. You can also include a fun surprise, like pre-printed airline tickets.
11Make A Modern-Day Mix Tape
You can either make your partner a Spotify playlist or, better yet, send them a USB drive in the mail full of songs personal to you and your relationship. You can even create a letter or poem to them using the song titles or lyrics. Then, don’t have your partner listen to it without you on Skype or FaceTime, so you can listen together. You can even have this play while you have your Skype dinner date.
12Send A Surprise To Their Work & Home
Start by sending something special to their work — no, not just flowers — but think along the lines of their favorite lunch or a favorite meal you two have shared. Then, have another surprise that’ll be waiting for them when they get home. By sending things to both places, they will think work is it, then be pleasantly surprised again when they get home.
13Make Them Something Unique And Personal To Them
One year, my then-boyfriend, who liked to play guitar and sing in his spare time, made me a CD. And, no, not just any CD, but songs he had written lyrics and music for, all about me and our relationship. Best. Gift. Ever. How did he give it to me? We were able to see each other in person for Valentine’s Day and he popped it into the car’s CD player as we drove to dinner. Awwww. So think of something you and only you can create for your valentine and do it.
14Have Some Sexting Time
Even though Valentine’s Day is known to be full of sweet cards, chocolates, and flowers of some kind, don’t forget about ways to connect with your partner physically, even though you may be miles apart. Whether you do so through a video chat or with a sexting app so you don’t have to worry about a third party ever finding out what you two say (or show, or do), it’ll help remind the two of you that you’re still attracted to each other physically, not just mentally.
15Send A Seductive Surprise
Not big on Skype sex? Try sending something sexy to remind them of you, whether it's your underwear or your perfume. “Although you may not be able to physically be together, remembering your significant other’s scent will be just as intoxicating,” Silva says.
A long-distance boyfriend once sprayed his cologne on a letter he sent me, and I loved it — the scent lasted for months. Similarly, a friend’s long-distance boyfriend sent her a tee-shirt he’d worn to the gym, and she slept with it every night. So there’s definitely something to Silva’s theory.
As you know, when it comes down to it, Valentine’s Day is just another day. But, that said, there are many ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day when you’re in a long-distance relationship. No matter what you and your partner do on Valentine’s Day, the important thing is, you’ll be “together,” somehow, somewhere. And with so many technological mediums available these days, there’s no shortage of ideas to have a happy Valentine’s Day, even long-distance.