Valentine’s day is soon approaching and it’s a good time to stop and show someone how much you care. I’ve been married 12 years but my favorite Valentine’s day was probably the second one with my husband before we got engaged. We spent the whole day together. He worked an overnight job as a social worker at the time and spent a few nights sketching my portrait from a photo he had. He wrote me a song and surprised me by singing it with his guitar. He bought me a diamond heart necklace and we went to Spa 88 and got massages and swam all day. Then we had brunch, went ice skating in Rockefeller Center and got frozen hot chocolates at Serendipity in NYC. Come to think of it, the date covered most of the love languages. I still remember it 12 years later and marvel at the free time we had before having two kids.
Part of dating or being in a long-term relationship is getting to know the other person, with successive levels of intimacy. Buying a gift can be a jumping off point and if you get it right, they will feel known and you’ll touch their heart! Here are a few things to consider:
Find Out Their Favorite Things:
Do a little brainstorming and ask yourself, ‘What’s their favorite flower, music, writer, restaurant, next dream trip destination, color, poet, actress, hobby etcetera. Not only will this give you insight into his/her soul, but you’ll also be able to brainstorm related gifts. Asking them what they love shows that you care, and are listening. If you take her to see James Taylor (her favorite singer) instead of some random band that you like on Valentine’s day it’ll make her day. If you fill her apartment with orange tiger lilies instead of just grabbing some red roses and a box of chocolates you may also score extra thoughtful points.
Discover Their Love Language:
There’s a popular book called, ‘The 5 Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman. In it, he explains that we all love differently and real love means giving to your partner in a way that meets their needs and preferences. It means getting to know them and what they feel most loved and happy. He has 5 love languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch. You can read his book to find out your love language and have your date do his quiz too or just carefully listen and watch them. If your date hates criticism and seems to love compliments, she may need words of affirmation most. If she thrives on spending time with you, she may need experience or a mini getaway as a gift to spend memorable, quality time together. If she lights up when you cook for her or you build her a bookshelf, she may love acts of service. You get the idea. Then you can create your gift around addressing that need. For example, a gift around acts of service could be a coupon book to shovel out her car, clean her house, cook her dinner and do her laundry, etcetera. For a date who loves physical touch, you could give massages, foot rubs, and aromatherapy bubble baths. A gift for a date who loves words of affirmation would include a long personalized card or a poem with a gift.
Create Part of It Yourself:
Dating can feel really impersonal. Many times I’ve heard clients say, ‘If he’s online dating, he’s probably seeing a ton of women.’ And if you are married then you may feel your spouse was much more heartfelt and romantic when you two dated! Your date, significant other or spouse probably wants to know that he or she is special to you. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.’ Your date is getting to know you at a deeper level too so a good way to reveal yourself is to get creative. And, when you create a gift for someone, you automatically express your heart. Make a CD of songs that remind you of them, make a scrapbook, write a song or poem or create a scavenger hunt. Your date will know you put time into creating something just for them.
Stack the Deck: Make a Day of It:
Often we worry that we will pick the wrong gift, so why not diversify? At least one thing might hit the jackpot!
You can come up with a bunch of free things to do like a scavenger hunt or a theme day with a series of experiences. Try looking up New York Magazine’s Best of NY and tell them you will sample the cities best brunch, pizza, cannoli, hot chocolate, burger etcetera. They will like that you did your research. A popular complaint I get from single women is that the guy doesn’t plan anything so really thinking about it can set you apart.
Use Your Relationship as a Guide:
Granted you may only have been dating a few months but you can make a personalized romantic gift if you reflect on your time together. Take her to the spot of your first date, make a scrapbook of things that you did together or write a card recalling your favorite moments together. Courtship is a magical time that hopefully you’ll always remember so documenting it can be a gift that you’ll love years later. And if you’re married or in a long-time relationship, it will warm their heart that you still remember the details of falling in love.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman is a psychologist and author. She wrote the “Dating from the Inside Out” published by Atria Books and the upcoming book, “Facebook Dating: from 1st Date to Soulmate.” She has a private practice in Manhattan and does dating and Relationship coaching by phone. Learn more at www.DrPauletteSherman.com