It's difficult being in a long-distance relationship on an average day, and then February 14 rolls around and really drives it all home. The day has a tendency to be extra sad and extra lonely for couples who can't be together in person. But if you look for special ways to spend Valentine's Day when you're in a long-distance relationship, it really doesn't have to be so bad.
This is, of course, particularly important to acknowledge for Valentine's Day 2021. There are currently about 14 million long distance couples in the U.S., which is about 4% of the population. And since we're obviously still in a pandemic, that means a lot of people won't be able to travel to see each other.
"It can be tough for couples, and especially emotional, because Valentine's Day is a symbol of love [and being with the] person you love most," Elizabeth Overstreet, a love strategist and dating coach, tells Bustle. "So [since] this is the case, you need to be creative about how you can still make this holiday meaningful, with or without the distance."
That said, February 14 can be a lot for a variety of reasons. So if you're feeling bummed, at a loss for ideas — or simply want to make the most of the day — here are a few fun ways to spend Valentine's Day when you're in a long-distance relationship, that'll hopefully feel just right.
1. Send Each Other Pre V-Day Surprises
In an effort to prevent distance-induced loneliness from sinking in, be extra sweet to each other in the lead-up to Valentine's Day. This might mean staggering gifts so that they arrive on Feb. 12 and 13, sending a bunch of hand-written cards and letters — so that there's always something fun waiting in the mail — or texting a little bit more often than usual. The idea is that if you both stay busy, there won't be any time left in the day to feel sad.
2. Make A Personalized Care Package
You can also show your love by sending a tailor-made care package. It could include anything, from home-town treats your partner misses eating, to a sweater with your signature fragrance spritzed on it, to that one random thing they mentioned wanting five months ago. Flowers and candies are always fun. But if you send a gift that screams "I get you" it'll be even more meaningful.
3. Stream A Movie Together
You'd probably watch a movie if you were spending Valentine's Day together. So why not make a date of it from afar? There are so many streaming services offering "watch party" options right now, which means you can watch a movie together — without the struggle of trying to press play at the exact same time.
Choose a movie you both know and love, so that there's a hint of nostalgia. Be on the phone or Zoom while you watch, so that you can hear each other's reaction. And then spend time afterward discussing, since that's always the best part of watching a movie anyway.
4. Have A Dinner Date Via Zoom
If you're going to miss sitting in a restaurant together, recreate the experience via Zoom or FaceTime. All you have to do is prop up your phone or laptop in the kitchen and talk while you cook your own meals, set your own tables, and then eat "together." It won't be the same as dining out, or actually being side-by-side, but it's still a great option for couples spending Valentine's Day apart.
5. Order The Same Meal
Another cute idea is to order the same meal from a restaurant and eat it at the same time. "Sharing a meal that has been prepared for you and your partner can be as close as many folks will come to a restaurant or night out during the pandemic," Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. It'll be nice to have a shared experience, she says, and feel a little bit fancy.
6. Plan A Trip
"The hardest part about LDRs is not always knowing when you're going to see the other person again," Erica Spera and Molly DeMellier, dating experts and co-hosts of the Shooters Gotta Shoot podcast, tell Bustle. So if you're feeling sad, they recommend distracting yourselves by planning your next get-together.
Go all out with the details, like which restaurants you'd go to, which museums, etc. Create the itinerary, then save it — heck, you could even print it out and stick it to your fridge — so that you have a visual reminder of good things to come.
7. Plan Your Valentine's Day
If all this long-distance Valentine's Day business isn't cutting it, then spend the day discussing how you'll recreate the holiday when you get to see each other in person, Overstreet says, even if that's months away.
Planning for the future can help ease the pain of not being together in the present, Overstreet says. So again, lay out all the details of the day from the restaurant you'll go, to what you plan to wear, then write it on the calendar.
8. Try A Virtual Hookup
One of the best ways to end an in-person date is by falling into bed together. And the second best this is, of course, falling into bed virtually. So if you haven't experimented with sexting or hooking up virtually, now's your chance.
9. Play Games On Zoom
If you're looking for different (and slightly more nerdy) way to pass the evening, try playing a game on Zoom. You could quiz each other pub trivia-style, ask "truth or dare" questions, or do a few rounds of "would you rather?" Not only will you crack each other up, but you'll feel closer by the end of it.
10. Fall Asleep While Talking
You're likely well-versed in the art of falling asleep while talking on the phone, and this Valentine's Day should be no different. To cap off the evening, talk about your day, talk about your lives, talk about anything that comes to mind. And fall asleep knowing you connected — even though you're far apart.
Elizabeth Overstreet, relationship strategist and dating coach
Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, clinical psychologist
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