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Less is More: Why You Should Lower Your Expectations on Valentine’s Day

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By: Grant Stenzel, MS Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor452631_97838694

It’s that time of year again. Flowers are flying off the shelves, chocolates are selling by the dozen, and reservations are being made weeks in advance: Valentine’s Day is almost here. But before you start fussing about the perfect outfit for the perfect day, take a step back to make sure your expectations are in check.

It’s easy to have high hopes for such a romantic day. Countless films and TV shows have taught us to expect miracles on Valentine’s Day, but this type of magic is generally restricted to screenplays. Even if your day isn’t fit for the silver screen, that doesn’t make it any less special. Bring your expectation down to real life, and you may be surprised how much more you’ll enjoy Valentine’s Day.

High standards also put pressure on your significant other. Help them out by discussing your expectations in advance. If you want to go out to eat or see a movie, let them know! It’s better to be open and honest about what you would like to do instead of being disappointed later. From there, you can work together to plan a day that you both will enjoy.

Keeping expectations low also helps cut costs. You don’t always need a little blue box to express your love. There are many easy ways to make a romantic evening with very little funds. Get creative and put forth some energy—love letters and poems are a simple and thoughtful way to show someone you care. Cooking a meal together at home is a great alternative to spending the night in a crowded restaurant with a huge bill. It truly is the thought behind the idea that counts, so make the most of a memorable night in.

More than the perfect date or gift, knowing your significant other is the key to a successful Valentine’s Day. When planning or buying a gift, cater to what they want, not you. I know how difficult this can be. The first couple of years of my marriage, I planned these elaborate Valentine’s dates that my wife didn’t seem to enjoy. Once I found out that all she really wanted was to spend quality time together, I realized that I was giving her what I wanted, instead of the other way around. Putting your significant other’s desires first on Valentine’s Day will make it special and show that you really know and care for them.

As I experienced, knowing someone’s Love Language is often more important than knowing what kind of food or music they like. Love Languages determine how people express feelings as well as how they receive them. Whether they like quality time, acts of service, or words of affirmation, this knowledge will help you discover how to share your feelings in a way that your significant other will appreciate most.

This year, take a step back and remember that Valentine’s Day is about celebrating your unique relationship. Do something that fits into the realistic expectations already set by you and your partner, and you’ll end up having a romantic, memorable day all your own.