Today is Valentine’s Day. Here in D.C. people are looking for ways to express feelings of affection and more. From those who are newly dating, to the newly coupled or cohabitating and for those who have been together for years- there is often a struggle to find just the right words and gestures for this day. The classic choices are cards, candy and flowers, and/or dinner out. Then there are the more elaborate day trips, weekends away or the gifts of expensive jewelry or clothing. Each one is meant to express just the right sentiment- without being too little, too elaborate or presumptuous.
Regardless of one’s relationship stage, Valentine’s Day can bring stress and uncertainty. If you have only dated someone a couple of times, do you just ignore the day altogether because you aren’t really in a relationship? If you have been dating for a few months, is there anxiety about saying the “L” word too soon or doing it first? Perhaps you are in an unmarried, but committed relationship- and fearful of appearing too pushy and therefore, wanting more commitment. Will an elaborate gift lead your partner to feel more pressure, especially if they take a more subtle and predictable route like flowers or a casual dinner out? For those who are married, this day can be one you wish you could cancel. Wives fear he will forget or just do something last minute and without any thought or caring- and husbands are afraid they can’t win, whatever way they go. Given all the pressure, hassle and potential negative fallout, what can Washingtonians do to say it just right?
Pay attention to the nonverbal communication your partner uses to express their feelings and needs. What makes her smile and bring about the warmest response? Does he drop subtle hints and do you hear them? When you suggest something, does she say “fine” with little excitement- or do her eyes light up and her posture soften as she moves a little closer to you? Planning something she likes but you don’t would say “I love you” in a big way.
For those who are just recently dating someone or in a very new relationship, tuning into their nonverbal messages will give you the information you need. Have they mentioned Valentine’s Day or suggested something you could do- or have they been mum at its approach? Depending on which it is, get in sync and plan or not accordingly. If you just can’t read them, a single flower or a nice bottle of wine would do nicely. Keep it simple and err on the side of caution- then pay attention to their nonverbal reaction and you will get all the information you need.
If you just listen to everything they don’t say you could end up having a great time with someone new, getting a little closer to your significant other, or spicing up a relationship/marriage that has gone flat. Happy valentine’s Day.