For many couples, Valentine's Day can serve as an excuse to disrupt the banality of daily life. It's a chance to get out of the house and to do something different and more special than the norm. As with many things right now, though, that's more difficult to do than usual. COVID-19 has not only made the possibility of going to many typical date-night locations challenging and unsafe, but it's also forced those who live with their partners to spend every waking hour together in the same place. So while trying to host a romantic Valentine's Day at home might be one of your only options, you're probably scratching your head about how to make it feel like, well, not every other night.
But according to relationship experts, it can be done. On top of that, it's also important — not only to plan an intimate Valentine's Day date, but to also have regular special nights together in general. "I think that everyone is experiencing a little bit of Groundhog Day right now, so being able to shake things up a bit is wonderful for a relationship," psychotherapist Dr. Kathryn Smerling tells TZR.
But, what to do? Surprisingly, you have a lot of options. Because yes, even if you're hosting your date night in the same place that you work, sleep, and eat with your partner, there are expert-approved ways to make your surroundings and your activities feel out of the ordinary. Read on for their tips.
Romantic Valentine's Day At Home: Change Your Setup
When you've been at home together for months on end, it can be hard to foster feelings of romance in the same space you're spending all your time in. However, it is possible to help create a more intimate mood with some easy tricks. One way that Jess O’Reilly, PhD, sexologist and host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, says you can do this is by simply changing your space setup. "Rearrange the furniture, order new bedsheets (I just switched to an organic line called Takasa), set the mood with a colored light bulb, or create a new nook just for romance — no work, TV, phones, or distractions," she tells TZR.
Romantic Valentine's Day At Home: Ditch Technology
Speaking of distractions, try to minimize what Dr. O’Reilly calls "technoference" as much as possible. "Research shows that the mere presence of a phone detracts from concentration, presence, connection, and trust," she says. So, she recommends trying a full- (or half-) day tech fast leading up to the holiday by leaving gadgets out of sight so that you're not tempted to reach for them. "For many of us, scrolling has become automated; even when we intend not to, somehow the phone ends up in our hands."
Romantic Valentine's Day At Home: Join A Group Activity
Contrary to popular belief, you don't actually have to be alone to make your Valentine's Day feel special. "Romance need not be fully private or erotic," says Dr. O’Reilly. "Anything that gets you excited, laughing, connecting, talking, growing, or exploring something new can be romantic." With that, she suggests signing up for a group date. "There are so many great options online! You can learn to cook, salsa, critique art, taste wine, sketch, juggle, speak a new language, and so much more." Plus, she continues, many events like virtual symphonies are now free — so you don't have to spend a ton of money to do something like this.
Romantic Valentine's Day At Home: Try Something New
Rather than sticking to your regular old date-night routine, Dr. Smerling says you should do an activity together you haven't done before to make the holiday feel special. "Try doing something that’s completely new to both you — whether it’s just as simple as buying canvases and taking the night to paint portraits of each other (and then laughing at how they turn out), learning to play chess or maybe taking a virtual cooking class together and trying out a completely new recipe," she tells TZR. Additionally, Dr. O’Reilly suggests choosing a new sex toy together on Valentine's Day, or buying one in advance and experimenting with it on your date night.
What matters, when it comes down to it, is that the activity feels fresh. "Anything different and collaborative can help establish a new form of intimacy, especially right now," continues Dr. Smerling.
Romantic Valentine's Day At Home: Avoid Pressure
With fewer occasions to celebrate these days, it may feel like you need to place a heavy emphasis on celebrating with your partner. However, Dr. O’Reilly advises against that. "Let the pressure dissolve," she explains. "Valentine's Day may be romantic or it may be just another day. The buildup of pressure and expectation can detract from romance and intimate connection, so plan to enjoy one another’s company — even if it doesn’t lead to romance or sex."
In fact, she continues, you might even skip plans on Feb. 14 altogether. "Consider celebrating a day or two early (or late) and remember that the way you treat each other and invest in the relationship throughout the year matters more than one single holiday. Ongoing investment will be more fruitful than a stand-alone grand gesture."