With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, you can guarantee our social media feeds will be filled with couples posting pictures of fancy dinners and romantic getaways.
It’s easy to get caught up in Valentine’s Day fever and look at the day through rose-tinted glasses, especially when social media is such an integral part of our day-to-day lives.
But what about those of us who are just plain bored of the hype surrounding the so-called most romantic day of the year? What options are there for us?
As you can probably tell, I’m not the biggest fan of February 14. As much as I like the idea of letting your other half know how much they mean to you, I don’t understand why we can’t just do it on any other normal day.
And I don’t particularly like the idea you have to buy presents or spend money on someone to show them your appreciation, which is basically the whole basis of Valentine’s Day.
Hence why I’ve taken it upon myself to find out the types of things couples can do to celebrate their love for each other in a less conventional sense, while also spicing up their relationship a little.
UNILAD spoke to Sheela Mackintosh-Stewart, a matrimonial consultant and relationship guru from Buckinghamshire, who wants to empower everyone to become ‘relationship-smarter’.
Sheela explained how couples often get stuck in a ‘monotonous routine’, saying:
It is incredibly important to continue to find activities you both enjoy, experience new things together and grow as a couple.
Spicing up your relationship routine by finding activities you are both excited about is the perfect way to do this.
It’s easy to see how it happens; sticking to what we know is the easier option, hence why many of us would just choose to go to a restaurant or the cinema for date night.
But what better time to shake things up a bit than on Valentine’s Day? And what better way to shake things up – both literally and figuratively – than signing up to a salsa class with your partner?
There you have it: suggestion number one. A playful and fun way to show your affection to each other, salsa dancing is the perfect date night activity. And it provides an excuse to use the red dress emoji on a daily basis, what more could you ask for?
It isn’t just for professional dancers either; with beginner’s classes costing just a couple of quid per night, it’s the perfect opportunity to let your hair down and learn something fun.
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Hilda Burke – psychotherapist, couple’s counsellor and author of The Phone Addiction Workbook – told UNILAD one of the most important things in a relationship is spontaneity.
She explained how something as simple as salsa lessons could transform your relationship:
Spontaneity takes us back into the ‘unknown territory’ arena, the excitement and inevitable nervousness that comes from not knowing what will come next is a hallmark of the early days of a relationship.
Losing our heads in this way (together) can free us up to re-connect with our partner in a more physical and emotional way that helps re-ignite the spark that was there in the early days.
If dancing isn’t for you don’t worry – you’re not on your own. Trust me, all you need to do is look at my failed attempt at flossing below to realise I’m actually terrible (I’m on the left).
Even so, I reckon I’d put my dancing shoes on this Valentine’s Day – if only to have a genuine belly laugh with my boyfriend at how awful I am at any form of dancing.
Suggestion number two requires a little bit less coordination (hallelujah!) but a little bit more brain action, because what’s more romantic than learning a language together?
Learning a new language (other than the language of love, obvs) is not just a fun way to shake things up within your relationship, it’s also an exciting and resourceful way to challenge yourself and your partner.
Sheela explained how new, shared experiences such as learning a language together can heighten feelings of love and strengthen bonds between a couple:
A key ingredient for a good relationship is to be sure to make time for each other and to have fun as they thrive on creativity and new initiatives.
So, why not take the opportunity on Valentine’s Day to do something out of the ordinary together and explore a different tact by trying a new, fun activity?
It can be just the right tonic needed to ‘up-regulate’ feelings of love for each other and kick-start your journey to re-igniting the missing sparks.
And hey, becoming more sufficient in a language just gives you both an excuse to take a well-deserved holiday to that specific place, when you really think about it. So what’s stopping you?
Last but certainly not least, why not put your own needs to one side for the day by trying something completely selfless like volunteering at a homeless shelter together?
According to Shelter, 320,000 people in Britain are now homeless – and the numbers are only rising. So much so, an urgent appeal was launched last year, calling on the public to support their local homeless shelters.
Polly Neate, the CEO of Shelter said:
Shelter’s services have never been more needed. That’s why we’re asking the public to support us this winter so that we can answer as many calls as possible and have trained advisers on hand when people need them most.
UNILAD spoke to Lisa Phillips – confidence coach, author, and wellness speaker – who voiced her thoughts on how couples should think outside the box this Valentine’s Day.
Lisa said couples should spread the love to others this February 14:
Do something meaningful together that makes you appreciate your own life. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or animal home and spread some love to others as well as yourself on Valentine’s Day.
It’s important to balance our needs – some routine and some adventure. Doing a new activity together can break up the mundane ‘business as usual’ that can happen in a relationship.
It helps us focus on why we chose our partner in the first place and appreciate what we like about them.
Rather than focusing solely on your own needs, volunteering at a homeless shelter gives you the opportunity to offer support and compassion to those in need – and if that isn’t the true spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’m not sure what is?
Obviously, these are just a few options and this isn’t to say you have to go out and do them all right away; but it’s food for thought when you’re feeling bored or stuck in a routine – particularly on Valentine’s Day.
And hey, if you can’t decide what to do, why not put different options in a hat and choose at random? That way neither of you can blame each other (or me) if you really don’t like it!
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).