3 Sweet Ways To Avoid Common Valentine's Day Traps (& Deepen Your Bond, Too)

It's a day for romance, but what's more romantic than building a relationship that can last?

couple looking lovingly at one another dekazigzag / shutterstock 

As another commercialized celebration looms, I feel sad about the few times the promise of Valentine’s Day came true for me and many others. Maybe that’s because it’s often so full of unexpressed expectations. 

Maybe some people avoid the effort and lack the imagination to make the day bloom authentically. And maybe that’s because of couples’ differences in appreciating and investing in its possible value.


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The value proposition of Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is particularly fraught for romantic relationships because "proofs of caring" vary in meaning, resources and symbolism for each person. It also exposes and echoes hopes and hangovers from previous experiences, within and outside your current connection.  


I sense you’ve noticed that almost any imposed celebration or requirement, however well-meaning, loses its luster and appeal. It feels forced. 

Much also depends on when, where and how the occasion applies. The varying cultures of participants are also relevant.

Given these unknowns and variations, I will move somewhat from typical discussions and guidance for Valentine’s Day. 

Instead, I’ll offer ways to convert the dangers of differing expectations and disappointments to specific opportunities.

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Design the perfect Valentine's celebration  

Considerations for designing your Valentine’s Day celebration include:

  • The length of time you’ve been in your relationship: new, medium-term or long-term
  • Levels of trust that engender a spirit of generosity and basis for frankness
  • Comfort and sense of humor in open conversation about small steps to improve the quality of your connection
  • Curiosity about what’s possible
  • Willingness to take reasonable risks to move beyond the status quo

This can be complicated — lots of variables and interactions, blocks and gaps. 

All the more reason to use Valentine’s Day to focus on the potential for exploring opportunities to deepen your connection. 

There are benefits waiting for you in the spaces among unaddressed hopes and expectations when you’re willing to move from unknowns and routines to small adventures. 

Start with yourself first, based on your experience with and insight about the other person as well as your own accessible choices. 


Identify their main values and interests to determine what would appeal to them, rather than what you’d want. What main motivations and themes do you notice? How do they mesh with your own?

RELATED: 21 Men Explain How They Feel About Valentine's Day

Three ways to make Valentine’s Day an opportunity to strengthen your bond 

1. Show your own feelings with joy and enthusiasm

Based on who they are and what they’d want, explore and adapt any of the following options. They could express your appreciation of them and your feelings for them in positive ways.

  • Sing, record or play a relevant song.
  • Write a poem.
  • Draw a humorous sketch or picture.
  • Put a representative collage together using cutouts from magazines, newspapers and online sources.
  • Make up or steal a kind of relatable joke that makes you both laugh.
  • Create or repeat a recipe that appeals to both your tastes.
  • Hand write up to a page from your heart about what the person means to you.

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2. Elicit their ideas and talk about their hopes

Ask them how they’d like to celebrate Valentine’s Day, if at all.  If they don’t want to, let it go and experiment with the following alternatives, using appropriate timing.

Engage them in conversation about one aspect of your connection/relationship they’d like to modify or change.  Then, brainstorm about how to do it.

Ask them to describe briefly one manageable behavior they’d appreciate your expressing differently. Clarify why it’s important to them.

Explore how you can have fun together on a continuing basis. Be specific and seek manageable examples.

Identify together what shift in communication habits would strengthen your relationship.  


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3. Avoid the trap of dramatic, singular action

Don’t get carried away by thinking any of the small choices suggested will be quick fixes. In fact, they are discrete acts that are only part of the foundation of a healthy, continuing, sustainable relationship — regardless of stage and nature.

I believe the daily, occasionally boring rhythms provide opportunities for growth and are worth sharing. 

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Sharing the breath of love and life

One example is the Danish word hygge (hyoo·guh) which translates to connection, coziness and fellowship with forbearance and optimism. This process combines finding joy in simple pleasures and communicating with loved ones in a low-key, but meaningful way.


Think of your approach as creating a caring mood that demonstrates how you value the person — regardless of whether you're in a short, medium or long-term relationship. 

This process applies to a range of situations. It can be a comfortable investment in your own stability and security. 

Patience and imagination strengthen it for you both. And thoughtful, fresh humor adds energy.

A Greek word for lover, eispnelos, can be translated as breathing into another. I think that’s a metaphor for the power and sustenance you can provide one another, on Valentine's Day and beyond.

RELATED: What Do Women Really Want When They Ask Men To Be Romantic?


Ruth Schimel Ph.D. is a career and life management consultant and author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon. She guides clients in accessing their strengths and making viable visions for current and future work. The first chapter of her seventh book Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future is now available to preview.