With Valentine's Day coming up, it can either elicit excitement or dread in people. While some people feel it's no big deal and "just another day," others feel the pressure is on, especially if they're dating someone. And the newer the relationship, the more pressure there may be to get it right. But, have no fear: There are plenty of Valentine's Day date ideas for new couples. You can just do something you'd normally do, but with an extra romantic touch.
"It's so easy to get caught up in the hoopla that is Valentine's Day, especially if you just started dating someone," Thomas Edwards, Founder of The Professional Wingman, tells Bustle. "The truth is, you don't have to make it a big deal, so there's no need to stress out. Just whatever you do, don't NOT acknowledge that it's Valentine's Day — that won't be the smartest move. In fact, the best move you can make is still see that person and be super low-key about it."
Like Edwards says, it's good to at least acknowledge it. A friend of mine was a few weeks into seeing a new guy when Valentine's Day hit — and he did not even text or call her the day of, let alone see her. Afterwards, he just pretended the day hadn't even existed. (Guess how much longer they dated?) So, yes, it's best to at least acknowledge it, even in a small way.
Below, you'll find some low-pressure Valentine's Day ideas when you're in a new relationship — just because it's new doesn't mean you can't celebrate. Personally, I think the key is doing something most couples will not.
Be A Tourist In Your Own City
How many times have you gone on a tour in your own city? Exactly. Yes, you may think you know everything there is to know about where you live, but with so many different tours out there these days — from regular city and ghost ones to wine and food ones, you name it — it gives you and your date a chance to explore a new side of your city, as well as explore more about each other.
By going on a day trip to a local city with a new date, it eliminates any pressure to stay overnight or make the relationship move too quickly. Even though Valentine's Day falls on a Wednesday this year, perhaps you can both take off work for this trip or else do it on the weekend. Plus, you can learn a lot about somebody by traveling with them, so an all-day trip seems like a perfect way to do so, along with some fun Valentine's Day surprises thrown in.
Have A Picnic
Let's face it — anyone can put together a picnic. If it's a surprise picnic full of your date's favorite foods and drinks, even better. "As a matchmaker with a February 12th birthday, I have to often think what do you do when it's a new relationship, as it's BOTH my birthday and Valentine's Day," Stef Safran, matchmaking and dating expert, tells Bustle. "I think what makes a good date is someone who can create something with next to nothing. Having a simple picnic while talking and getting to know someone can be quite romantic." If it's too cold outside, set up shop by the fireplace.
Note: Candles and romantic ambient music are optional.
Make Something Together
Whether you make dinner together using whatever ingredients you have at home or decide on a theme together in advance and try something new, you can't go wrong by making something together.
Edwards agrees. "As for a Valentine's Day date idea, I'm a low-key kind of guy, so my go-to is cooking an amazing candlelit dinner at home," he says. Of course, what you and your date make does not have to be dinner: You can go to a place to paint while drinking wine, a cooking class, or several other dates that promote creating something together. "You create intimacy by doing," Rhonda Milrad, Founder and Chief Relationship Advisor of Relationup & a relationship therapist, tells Bustle. "People create connection by experiencing and engaging in a task together. The event itself creates an opportunity to interact in ways that don't occur when you are sitting politely across the table from one another. In an activity, you are negotiating, compromising, collaborating, demanding, sharing, and often working toward a common goal."
Go To An Arcade Or Bowling Alley
I can't be the only one out there who loves a good game of Ms. Pac-Man at an old-school arcade. Plus, by hitting up an arcade or bowling alley on Valentine's Day, you don't have to compete with other couples trying to get a reservation at some overrated restaurant with a prix-fixe menu. And if you go to a place like Bowlmor, you get the best of both worlds: arcade games and bowling, as well as other interactive games. Of course, you can have cocktails and food, too, to round out the night. Another bonus? You'll get to see how competitive your date is while having a memorable date.
Going wine tasting makes for a fun, yet romantic, Valentine's Day. You can either Uber or find vineyards with a hop on/hop off bus so you don't have to worry about driving. Another perk is that the setting of vineyards is often picturesque and romantic, so you're covered there, too. In addition, you can combine this with the day trip idea above to make for a fun, action-packed day or overnight trip.
Make A Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt
While the idea of creating a scavenger hunt for someone may seem like a big ordeal, it actually does not have to be. You can create a simple yet thoughtful one in your new partner's apartment or backyard, or yours for that matter. Even if you're not at the "I love you" stage yet, you can still place clues or notes in certain places that also clue your date in regarding how you feel about them. For instance, you can buy some miniature stationery and write one thing you like about your partner in each note. Or, each little surprise can be an envelope or wrapped box with something your partner likes. Once you start brainstorming, the ideas will flow, you'll see.
Go On A Sunset (Or Sunrise) Hike
Hiking is a great activity date in and of itself, but when you combine it with a sunrise or sunset, it's bound to be the perfect Valentine's Day date. Of course, you can bike or walk to see the sunset, too, but you get the idea. You can also add the above picnic idea to this date to make it even more complete. But, TBD, you don't really need more than the sunrise (or sunset) and each other.
Go Out For Brunch
Maybe, since your relationship is new, you two have decided *not* to hang out on the night of Valentine's Day — instead, you'll have a Galentine's Day with your BFFs. However, you and the person you're dating still want to do something, so you pick something atypical and low-pressure: brunch. After all, there's that new spot that just opened, so why not try it together? Plus, if things are going really well, you can combine one of the above ideas with this one and have breakfast or brunch extend into one of them. Again, the name of the game with this date idea is little-to-no pressure while still making sure to do something with one another.
It All Goes Back To "It's The Thought That Counts"
At the end of the day, though Valentine's Day is just another day, it's also one that's nicer when acknowledged. "Early relationships get extra gasoline and steam poured into them when your new honey marks the Holiday of Love by giving you a special something to remember them by," Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent, regular expert child psychologist on The Doctors, CBS TV, and co-star on Sex Box, WE tv, tells Bustle. "I endorse exchanging Valentine's Day date gifts for all lovers, new and well-seasoned."
Dating Coach & Relationship Expert, Keynote Speaker, and Author James Preece, agrees. "If you are in a new relationship, it can be confusing when Valentine's Day comes along," he tells Bustle. "The best way is to discuss it in advance. If it's very early days, then you don't need to go full steam ahead with flowers, meals out, or expensive gifts. However, a card is still a nice touch, along with a token gesture. This will show you are serious about things progressing. You can still spend time together, but keep it simple — nothing too heavy, but enough to make it a special day."
Once again, thoughtfulness proves true more so than trying-too-hard gestures, especially if you're in a new relationship. Of course, whatever you and your date do, at least you will be together, which is the whole point, right?