Valentine's Day around the corner, you’re likely starting to think about what to do for the heart-centric holiday. Whether you are in a fairly new relationship or a long-term one, you and your significant other may be apart on Feb. 14. These days, it’s not out of the norm — you could be in a long-distance relationship anyway, or one of you suddenly has a business or family obligation out of town. However, just because you're physically apart doesn’t mean you can’t be emotionally together. After all, there are plenty of Valentine's Day ideas for long-distance relationships, even if the distance is temporary.
long-distance Valentine’s Day might feel like a bummer, but you can still make it a fun, romantic day regardless of physical proximity to your partner. "Valentine's Day is all about celebrating and appreciating your love," Tyler Turk, founder of Crated With Love, a monthly date night subscription box, tells Bustle. "When you're physically apart, it may seem like you cannot enjoy the holiday, but there is always an opportunity to celebrate your love. And remember, you can always celebrate before or after the 14th. The great thing about love is that it doesn't only exist for one day."
As Turk says, Feb. 14 is
just Feb. 14, and there are still 364 more days of the year to celebrate your relationship and love with your significant other. But if you're looking for some long-distance Valentine's Day gifts and date inspo, check out the ideas below. 1 Have A Zoom Or FaceTime Dinner Date simon2579/E+/Getty Images
There's no reason you can't see your partner face-to-face on Valentine's Day, so go ahead and hop on a video call. "Before your date, you can both choose the same dish to make for your romantic dinner," Turk says. "Then, hop on your favorite video streaming app and pick a flick you both have wanted to see. On Valentine's Day, jump onto your go-to video chat program and spend the evening together virtually, making the same dinner and watching the same movie."
2 Send Them A Personalized Playlist Making your partner a playlist of all their favorite songs — or your favorite songs together as a couple — is another thoughtful way to show them you're thinking about them. In fact, a 2019 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that your brain releases dopamine when listening to music you like — the same chemical associated with pleasure and sex.
By sending your long-distance lover a personalized playlist, you’re also sending them the feelings you have when you’re together, even if you’re apart. Have them listen to it on their own or use it as a musical ambiance during a FaceTime call.
3 Send Your Partner A Care Package
Nothing says “I love you” quite like a care package, says
Laurie-Anne King, a relationship expert and relationship coach, so go ahead and send some fun mail their way. King suggests filling a box with creative items that show how well you know your partner or little trinkets that’ll remind them of your relationship. Think photos, souvenirs, all their favorite snacks, or whatever else might appeal to your S.O. 4 Send Them Kisses In The Mail
Similar to sending your significant other a care package, you can also send them kisses — whether you're talking about a ton of Hershey’s kisses or lipstick ones on a piece of stationery. In general, sending cards and letters is an incredibly thoughtful way to feel closer to a partner who is far away, says
Amy Nobile, a dating coach and founder of Love, Amy. “The written word is priceless,” she tells Bustle. “Cards are something that some couples exchange just because — not just for special occasions.” 5 Make Them A Book
How cute would it be if you made your partner a book that’s all about your love? Sites like
LoveBook or Shutterfly Photo Books allow you to piece together something sweet, whether it’s a book of photos, a cartoon representation of your love, or something more. Get creative and you'll have a nice keepsake in no time. Bonus points if you make one for yourself — that way, you can go through it together, page by page, as a sweet V-Day activity. 6 Surprise Them All Day Long FrankyDeMeyer/E+/Getty Images
Think about the ins and outs of your partner’s day and what you can do to surprise them at every turn. For instance, can you have their favorite cookies sent to their office? Can you call them at lunch just to say hi, or arrange to have takeout delivered right when they get home?
“A romantic gesture doesn't have to be expensive or over-the-top; it's the thought and planning behind the act that is the most meaningful,”
Samantha Burns, couples counselor and dating coach at Love Successfully, previously told Bustle. “The best type of romance is selfless and involves prioritizing your partner's happiness and showing them how much they mean to you.” 7 Set Up A Scavenger Hunt
Plan a scavenger hunt for your partner by having their friends or family strategically place items around town. For instance, maybe you two often went to a certain park together, so you'll have a note waiting for them under the slide. You can also use messaging app voice recordings or even a series of TikToks dictating where your partner should go during the scavenger hunt. Each physical clue can lead to the next, or you can voice record them step-by-step and have your significant other follow along.
8 Surprise Them IRL
If possible, make a surprise trip to where they are, suggests sex therapist
Courtney Watson, LMFT. Sneakily check in ahead of time to see if they’ll be available, possibly by asking their friends or family. Once you know their schedule, plan your trip and send them hints so you can meet up IRL for an in-person date night. 9 Write Each Other Notes In Advance, Then Open Them On Valentine's Day
There’s nothing quite like getting a handwritten letter from your love, so get out your best stationery and write a series of notes. Turk suggests sending multiple letters to each other that you can open throughout the day. Label them for the morning, afternoon, evening, and night and it’ll help you feel connected throughout the entire day.
10 Have A PowerPoint Night
If you’re looking for something goofy, wholesome, and memorable to do with your long-distance lover on Valentine’s Day, consider hosting a PowerPoint night. You can do this over the screen-sharing feature on Zoom and take turns presenting funny slideshows to each other.
It can be anything from recaps of your favorite memories to silly “persuasive” slideshow essays, like a TedTalk on why a certain pop song is
the defining song of the decade or which of your mutual friends would fare best in an apocalypse and why.
The important part is that you bond over a fun, light-hearted activity and chat the night away. "Date nights don’t always have to be fancy and expensive," therapist
Jordan Madison, LGMFT, previously told Bustle. "You can use these date nights to try something new, create more memories, or relive moments from the past that you two enjoyed.” 11 Answer Questions Over Video Chat Sergey Gurin / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images
Whether you just started dating or you've been together for years, there are always new things you can learn about each other. An easy way to do so is by answering psychologist Arthur Aron's
36 questions that lead to love, which are broken up into three sets and get more intimate as they go. During your Valentine's Day video chat date, set some time aside to answer the questions. You may be surprised at what you learn. 12 Gift Your Partner A Journal
Pick up a journal and jot down how you’re feeling about your partner every day leading up to Valentine’s Day, then mail it to your S.O. It’ll serve as a nice reminder that they’re always on your mind.
When it comes to
gift giving, in general, the more thought you put into it (even if it takes you a while) the better, notes relationship and sex coach Michele Lisenbury Christensen. "Above all, go into the process with love and a sense of fun," Christensen previously told Bustle. "Your enjoyment will shine through the gift.” 13 Plan An Experience For The Next Time You're Together
If you can't physically be with your partner on Valentine's Day, you can at least start planning an experience for the next time you're together. You could get tickets to a show, search through a list of interesting museums, or simply find something you want to
watch on Netflix the next time you spend a weekend together. While planning is half the fun, it’ll give you something to look forward — and take your mind off of being apart on Valentine’s Day.
“Remember that distance makes the heart grow fonder,”
Dr. Suzana Flores, clinical psychologist and author of , previously told Bustle. “The nice part of being involved in long-distance relationships is that even the simplest things — spending time together, holding hands, or going for coffee — can be all the more meaningful when you are together.” Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives 14 Send Them A Jar Filled With All The Reasons You Love Them
Cut out small pieces of paper and write something you love about your partner on each strip. Sharing thoughts like these “can bring people closer in connection,” as sex and intimacy coach
Irene Fehr, previously told Bustle. Once you've written out all the reasons, stick them in a mason jar, top it off with a ribbon, and mail it to your partner. With that jar in their life, they’ll always have something to cheer them up on bad days. 15 Spice Things Up Over Video Chat
Even though you and your partner live in different places, it's still important to maintain the intimate part of your relationship. Find a time in the evening when you know you'll be alone, and turn up the romance
with your partner over video chat. You can send each other sexy texts during the day to get yourself in the mood before you can finally connect at night. “Video chat on V-Day — clothed or naked,” says Nobile. “Regular video dates are a great way to keep the spark alive.” 16 Have An At-Home Movie Night
Going out to a movie may not be an option, so bring the movie theater to you. “Streaming apps like Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, etc. make this much more convenient now with Group Play features that allow you to sync up a movie to watch at the same time as your partner,” says
Greyson Smith, MA, LPCC, a therapist with A Shared Heart Counseling. Pick a movie, sync it up, and pretend like you’re cuddling together on the couch. 17 Record Valentine’s Day Video Cards
Another heartfelt idea is to record video “cards” for one another, instead of physically writing them out. Hit record as you read a poem, sing a song, or simply film yourself wishing your S.O. a happy Valentine’s Day. “They can be funny or sweet or serious, and they can be rewatched for years,” Nobile says.
18 Try Reading Erotica
Another thing you and your long-distance S.O. might consider if you want something steamy for V-Day is reading erotica together. “Erotic reading and talk can add a new dimension to your date,”
Dr. Martha Lee, D.H.S., relationship counselor, clinical sexologist, author, and owner of Eros Coaching, previously told Bustle.
It can be anything from an excerpt from a book or a poem to an
audio erotica app, such as Dipsea, Emjoy, Femtasy, Aural Honey, Literotica, and more. As long as you’re listening to something saucy, it’ll be a fun shared experience that will bring you closer together. 19 Host A Virtual Game Night
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to just be the two of you. You can also get your friends in on the action by hosting a
game night via Zoom. Think about watching a rom-com and turning it into a drinking game, playing a round of Pictionary, or going all out with charades.
“Activities like this make couples feel like a team and build connection,”
Julia Bekker, a matchmaker and dating coach with Hunting Maven, previously told Bustle. Plus, it’s just plain fun to laugh the night away with your partner and friends. 20 Cook Dinner Together
While nothing’s more romantic than cooking together at home, the second best thing is cooking together via Zoom. To make it a date, find a recipe that you’re both into, angle your cameras so you can see what’s going on, and start chopping.
“After cooking, eat the meal together as if you were on a date,” says relationship therapist
Jordanne Sculler, LMHC. “Doing something new and exciting not only makes for a fun experience but also brings couples closer together.” 21 Make A Signature Cocktail
You could also work together to make a
signature cocktail that represents your love, says relationship coach Erica Turner, LPC. “This activity allows you to collaborate in creating something together, which builds a feeling of connection,” she tells Bustle. “You get to see each other’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to making something and how you both go about completing a task.” Once mixed, cheers to a good (albeit long-distance) Valentine’s Day. 22 Download A Conversation Starter App
Conversation starter apps can give you some out-of-the-box questions to ask each other about the past, present, and future of your relationship, says Smith. It’s a fun way to learn more about each other and feel connected, and a cute thing to do over the phone.
Smith suggests the
Gottman Card Decks app, in particular. “It gives you questions centered around friendship, open-ended questions that open the heart, sexy questions, date questions, and so much more,” he tells Bustle. 23 Try A Long-Distance Sex Toy
Did you know
long-distance sex toys exist? They’re fun any day of the week, but can also make for an extra saucy V-Day. Smith points to We-Vibe, a vibrator that can be controlled via an app so you can use it together. “It provides a fun and sexy moment and reminds you that you’re both cared for physically, even when you can’t be together,” he says. 24 Create A Shared Vision Board Dr. Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, a professor of sexual and relational communication at California State University Fullerton and coach at Luvbites, suggests making a shared vision board as a Valentine’s activity. “Create a Google slides document where both of you can collaborate at the same time,” she tells Bustle. “Think about what both of you want to accomplish together this year, or even in three to five years.”
Do you want to
move in together? Plan a big vacation? Or aim to see each other more often? Whatever it is, look for photos and quotes online and paste them into the vision board. “One of the major factors for successful LDRs is goal-setting, so this activity fosters the conversation of having mutual goals and helps people succeed in their LDR,” she says. 25 Go On A Phone Hike
If it isn’t too cold, consider calling each other while you go on a joint hike. “You can have a relaxing time and stimulating conversation on a hike together, yet separately,” says Suwinyattichaiporn.
Exercise also releases feel-good hormones, she adds, which will make you feel extra happy and connected while on your virtual date. 26 Try A Virtual Escape Room
Peruse the web in search of a
virtual escape room you can escape from together. “Virtual escape rooms are a great way to see how well you work together and see a different side of someone’s personality,” Turner says. “How well do you each function under pressure? Can you talk through stressful situations? Does one person take over or do you both contribute to solving the problem?” It’ll help you learn so much — and it’ll be fun. 27 Play “This Or That”
Get cozy in bed and play a round of This or That, Two Truths and a Lie, or
Table Topics. “These games are great ways to truly get to know someone because they prompt you to ask questions that you may not think to ask,” Turner says. It’s a way to feel closer on Valentine’s Day, even though you’re far apart. 28 Send A Sweet Treat
Call around to bakeries in your partner’s town to see if they might be able to deliver a box of cookies, cupcakes, or macarons, suggests
Deborah Vinall, Psy.D., LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist. While flowers are always sweet, picking out their favorite dessert shows that you really know your boo. 29 Write Erotica Together Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey, a clinical psychologist and sex coach, says it’s fun to write your own erotica as a couple. “Start a story with you writing the first paragraph and then they write the second, going back and forth and reading them out loud,” she tells Bustle. “This allows you to share your desires and build anticipation for time together in person.” 30 Fall Asleep While Talking On The Phone
Consider calling each other on speaker phone so you can chit-chat while you fall asleep. “Long-distance relationships can have a unique ache on holidays and anniversaries,” says Vinall, but they also provide a moment to do a sweet and simple activity that shows how much you both care.
31 Surprise Them With A Snuggly Item supersizer/E+/Getty Images
Vinall suggests exchanging tangible objects, like a blanket or even one of your own shirts, so you can feel more connected on Valentine’s Day. Make sure you both spritz the item with your signature so you can take a big whiff whenever you feel lonely. While it’s tough to be apart on Valentine’s Day, there are all sorts of extra romantic things you can do to have fun and stay connected.
Study referenced: Ferreri, L. (2019). Dopamine modulates the reward experiences elicited by music. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1811878116. Experts: Tyler Turk, founder of Crated With Love Laurie-Anne King , relationship expert and relationship coach Amy Nobile, dating coach, founder of Love, Amy Samantha Burns, couples counselor and dating coach at Love Successfully Courtney Watson, LMFT, sex therapist Jordan Madison, LGMFT, therapist Greyson Smith, MA, LPCC, therapist with A Shared Heart Counseling Michele Lisenbury Christensen , relationship and sex coach Dr. Suzana Flores , clinical psychologist and author of Facehooked: How Facebook Affects Our Emotions, Relationships, and Lives Irene Fehr , sex and intimacy coach Dr. Martha Lee, D.H.S., relationship counselor, clinical sexologist, author, and owner of Eros Coaching Julia Bekker, matchmaker, dating coach with Hunting Maven Jordanne Sculler, LMHC, relationship-focused therapist Erica Turner, LPC, relationship coach Dr. Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, professor of sexual and relational communication at California State University Fullerton, coach at Luvbites Deborah Vinall, Psy.D., LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey, clinical psychologist, sex coach
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This article was originally published on
Feb. 2, 2018