Valentine’s Day 2021 will look a lot different than last year's celebration and for many of you that will bring a sigh of relief. Bustling dinners in balloon-covered restaurants, expensive weekends away and budget-busting gifts are out – spending quality time together is in.
Is that such a bad thing? In the ‘Enduring Love?’ study led by Professor Dr. Jacqui Gabb and colleagues at The Open University, they found that everyday interactions were far more appreciated by couples than grandiose gestures. It’s these small, daily romantic gestures that help sustain healthy, loving relationships over time, way beyond Valentine’s day.
Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day in lockdown together or apart, these at home valentine’s day date ideas are sure to give you that loved-up feeling on February 14th – or any other day of the year.
Research has found that couples who recall positive memories not only report greater relationship satisfaction but also experience the memory more vividly. This Valentine’s Day recreate your favorite couple's memory at home – order takeout from the restaurant you went to on your first date; set up a tiki bar to reminisce over that trip to Maui, or remember the last time you belly laughed together.
During these chilly winter nights, embrace the darkness and plan a romantic night walk together around your neighborhood. Choose somewhere safe but try to get away from the bright lights and the city centre if possible, maybe even into the countryside. When approaching a planned night walk, instead of worrying about the dark and cold – make a feature of it. Pack a torch, a delicious warm picnic and a thermos of your favourite hot toddy. Notice how different the sights and sounds of the winter night are – and enjoy snuggling up together as you walk.
The ‘Enduring Love?’ study found that TV time created deeper bonds between some couples, helping them to build shared memories and providing lasting biographical anchors over the course of their relationship. Snuggle up at home this Valentine’s Day with your favorite flicks (rom coms, optional) and build your evening around it with themed snacks and drinks. Surprises add a spark to the relationship, so pick up your partner’s favorite snack at the shops and buy their favorite tipple to go with it.
Our research findings were loud and clear – when it comes to enduring love, it’s the everyday small stuff that matters. Want to know what was one of the most popular acts of kindness shared by long-term couples in the Enduring Love study? Being bought a cup of tea. Start there on Valentine’s Day. It may seem small, but thoughtful moments like this – especially when the outside world is scary or uncertain – bring us back to the present and help us shrug off our worries for a moment. That’s why they’re so meaningful.
Pampering your other half is a great way to show you care and a great opportunity to get creative. The ‘Enduring Love?’ study also found that people not only cherish thoughtful gestures, but are most appreciative of those that are tailored specifically to them – these are valued far more highly than expensive presents. Draw a bath for your partner with their favorite scents, magazines or bottles of beer and let them escape the everyday for a bit.
Board games have seen a resurgence in popularity. According to researchers at Baylor University, playing board games with your partner releases love hormone, oxytocin, which is great news for relationships since it makes you feel more "attached" to your romantic partner and elevates your mood all round. So whether it’s cards, chess, Scrabble or ‘strip Monopoly’, get in the mood for love this lockdown Valentine’s Day!
Dancing, as well as providing an opportunity to get physically close to each other, will also give you a chance to be fun, playful and frivolous. Research on long-term relationships showed how dancing and ‘being daft’ was used by couples in a variety of positive ways from providing a moment of sensual intimacy to beating the blues. So enjoy the moment, step out of those proverbial carpet slippers, get toes tapping, and dance to ‘your tunes’ together.
How much fun do you and your partner have? Download Paired to take our couples quiz.
We might not be able to get away from it all, but changing the scenery at home is the next best step in focusing on each other, escaping the pressures of our daily lives and making memories. Try a tepee filled with cushions, blankets and fairy lights. Bring in the ‘smores and hot chocolate and cosy up together under the stars.
Here at Paired, we believe (and the science agrees) that it’s the daily interactions and everyday loving gestures that count when it comes to healthy, happy relationships – on Valentine’s Day and any other day of the year. So, this Valentine’s Day at home, why not make a vow to take the romance you’ve enjoyed today into the rest of the year by setting a relationship resolution to stick to.
It doesn’t have to be big or intimidating. For example, you set a resolution to hug at the end of the day; resolve to show more praise to your partner in the form of compliments; or aim for 10 minutes of daily conversation to build intimacy. You’ll give yourself your best shot at success if you set a goal that’s doable — and meaningful too.