During this past year, individuals and couples have experienced major restrictions on "normal" dating activities while following stay-at-home orders, social distancing and working from home. For single people, their opportunities to meet a partner have been mostly lost. For couples who lived apart, this has meant that they were not able to be with their partner for many months. However, by contrast, for cohabiting couples, lockdown meant that they were forced to spend 24 hours a day with each other, and perhaps their children, housemates o family for almost a year.

For many couples, Valentine’s Day is a special day to take a break from the monotony of everyday life relationships. It can feel disappointing to not be able to make one day a year special with your partner.

According to global consumer research firm GlobalWebIndex (GWI), 48% of couples celebrate Valentine's Day dining out. Valentine’s Day is going to be very different this year. So that brings the question about what should Valentine’s Day look like during a pandemic?

If you’re quarantining with your partner, chances are “more intimacy” is not something you think you need. After all, you are together all the time, literally. Sure, maybe you escape to different rooms during the day but you are more physically close than ever and more than you are used to. As it turns out, the disintegration of our normal boundaries and physical distance can actually erode emotional intimacy. That very closeness can completely squash your ability or desire to feel emotionally bonded to your partner.

Precisely because of the stress that we have lived in the last year and the tensions created by the changes in the increase or decrease of physical distance that we are used to, all individuals and couples could benefit from a little bit of emotional intimacy building right now.

After spending so much time at home, it seems almost impossible to come up with an exciting idea that could turn your Valentine’s day into a celebration of love for you or with someone special.

Holidays and traditions provide joy and a sense of positive anticipation. This anticipation fosters excitement and eagerness. A holiday or celebration helps our mood and attitude during times when we have to navigate challenging times.

Here I offer some suggestions on how to celebrate this unique Valentine’s day as a couple and as a single person.

For couples:

  1. Make a list together of short-term goals to get you through this time. Examples of this might be accumulating 30 minutes of movement together, going to bed at the same time.
  2. Create one long-term goal together. This helps to solidify the long-term foundation of your couple. Couples that have a plan together, have more incentive to stay together and feel like they are creating something meaningful for the long-term
  3. Understand your roles and processes. A relationship is like a boat. One person tends to be the anchor—grounding the boat and creating boundaries so it doesn’t crash into the rocks. The other person tends to be the sails—a visionary, dreamer, and risk-taker that supports the boat to sail forward. Most couples have aspects of each trait and can certainly trade roles.
  4. Make daily deposits into each other’s love language piggy bank. The five love languages, according to Gary Chapman are Touch, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Quality Time and Acts of Service/Love. We tend to use 1 or 2 more frequently even when we can do all 5. Figure out your primary language to give and to receive love. Then, set an alarm 1-3 times a day to make a deposit into your partner’s emotional bank also being aware of his/her ways of reading love.
  5. Have Sex. Sex helps us feel connected, safe, sexy, validated, and de-stressed. Sex doesn’t need to be a transactional dance of the genitals, but then again, sex can be a transaction of genital pleasure, but the idea is just to have pleasure and fun. On the other hand, sex can be with yourself and/or your partner (if you have one).

So now we connect with the individuals:

  1. Drop the pressure. If thinking about Valentine’s Day actually adds more stress to your life change your perspective. You don’t have to celebrate partnership, romance or sex today. Instead, think about ways to invest love in yourself on a daily basis, focusing on smaller gestures and loving self-talk. Daily investment is more important than a single celebration in February.
  2. Change up your routine. Focus on breaking from your daily routine to celebrate Valentine’s day. It does not have to be drastic for it to be special.
  3. Rearrange your surroundings. Over the past year, your space has likely acted as an office, school, bedroom and more. Can you rearrange the furniture or order something new just to change things up?

This is a new experience for all of us, let’s learn and grow. The purpose of Valentine’s day is to celebrate love in all its forms. Let's focus on that. If you want to talk about how are you feeling or you are struggling in feeling that love from yourself or others, get professional help, seek psychotherapy and live and enjoy your life on your own terms.

Pablo Munoz