Most of the special days that we feel forced to celebrate are just normal days that have been made into something fancy, for the benefit of selling more stuff or ideas that we do not actually need or really desire. However, we still feel compelled to follow the herd and make sure that we are keeping up with all those wonderfully staged Instagram worthy posts that we see, constantly! We get pulled in by the need to do what’s seen as right and expected. I’m sure that you can relate to this… No judgement here!

Now, where Valentine’s day is concerned, or as the Romans used to call it Lupercalia, where women were paired off to men by lottery, no less, lovely! I don’t celebrate it at all…WHAT?! I hear you gasp, a sex educator who doesn’t DO Valentines. Yep, it’s true. I have always felt that it is more important to celebrate each other a lot more than once a year, so regular date nights are a must for us.

There is so much pressure on both partners, to shower love, make the evening go with a bang and most of all ensure that the effort we put in is reciprocated. But we are not mind readers, and this is just asking for trouble – expecting perfection (without communication) and getting less!

Valentine’s day, in particular, can set us up for failure, in relationships new and old.

In the throes of a passionate new romance, we may ask ourselves, do we know them well enough yet, do we know their fave food or colour or should we even make a fuss yet. Even in a relationship that has been going for a while, there are concerns. I hope at least you’d be able to name their favourite food and tipple (find me if you can’t, let’s talk) by this point, but pressures to perform better and better as years go by are rampant.

It really doesn’t need to be said that this year our options are so much slimmer any way. Which actually could be a wonderful blessing. It’s an opportunity to look at it in a different way and make some new beautiful traditions, that we can look back on fondly as you grow old together.

Make it a gift of time

There’s no better feeling than knowing that someone has genuine time for you. That you are number one in their priorities. That they want to just be there with you.

Yes, chocolates and flowers are lovely and it’s nice to be surprised by a gift but isn’t there more! I am forever being ‘good’ and so a box of chocolates given to me is not as thoughtful as one might think. I love the fact that my husband is showing his love for me, but did he listen to all the times when I said I was trying to ‘cut down’? Sometimes there is no win, win situation here.

Of course, if you are celebrating at home, as all of us here in the UK are, there is a pressure to cook the most impressive 3-course spectacular meal that will get all of your senses flowing. This however takes a whole heap of time and energy. Time and energy that could be better spent in the company of your partner, curled up in each other’s embrace. I much prefer to stick a pizza in the oven and sip a scrumptious caramel milkshake – plus there is nowhere near as much washing up!!

With that in mind, this year give real time to each other, equally.
  • Replace the chatter of the goggle box with conversation and laughter, that’s really an intimate place to find yourself.
  • Leave the washing up or do it together.
  • And, make sure that you head off to bed at the same time. One partner staying up way past the other is certainly a relationship killer. So, head to bed together even if it’s just for a snuggle.

Listen to your partner

Next to the gift of time, listening and I mean really listening is a truly appealing gift. Who doesn’t like to be listened to? It’s an attractive quality to be an active listener.

Did you remember I’m on that work call tomorrow and you said you’d grab the bub?

I’m sure that sentences like this and similar are heard all around the world. Those sentences that aren’t really conversations, just a string of words said as paths are crossed. This is a pure example from my household and it’s a great example that we don’t really absorb the information that comes from our other half, particularly if we are doing something else or it’s just said in passing or said at the wrong time…you get the drift!

My hubby can return back to me verbatim what I have said but they are just words, they certainly haven’t sunk in. It’s a skill that my daughter is now learning and it’s not quite what I wanted her to learn from being home with us a lot more over lockdown, I can tell you.

Why does this happen? Because there is nothing reinforcing those conversations or statements. Nothing to make you stop and think. Passing conversations are often forgotten and forgettable.

So, make your Valentine’s the perfect excuse to both talk and remember to practice active listening to each other! Here’s a few ideas for you to help hone your listening skills.

  • Look directly at them (in the eye is best, but this takes practice even with the most intimate of partners)
  • No distractions, always a tricky task but worth its weight in gold.
  • Sit near each other, connection is key.
  • Hold a hand or gently touch an arm, theirs not yours!
  • Don’t interrupt them, one of the best skills to learn. Silence can at times be golden!
  • Only answer when you need to and do it with compassion. Remember not everything needs an answer.

Intimacy

Let me ask, how many of you eat way too much on date night and fall into bed in a bloated mess? My hand goes up here so don’t be ashamed and so does my hubby’s. We’ve all been there, several times.

This year as we don’t have the option to lap up a huge 3-course meal, followed by too much fizz, but we are taking the time to reconnect, listening to our loved one and have an intimate evening…..so, the prospect of ending the night with some passionate sex is much more likely!

  • Throughout the evening build some tension with sensitive touches, strokes, caring looks and positive comments about your partner.
  • Gently let them know that you find their company exhilarating and that you are enjoying every moment of the time together, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

As you give this kind of attention and affection it will undoubtedly be reciprocated. And remember this all too often forgotten fact…sex isn’t all about penetration! So some ‘fooling around’ or hot and heavy petting could be just what the Dr ordered.

Lets round it all up…

This is how I approach Valentine’s, but we do it every month on date night, not just once a year.
  • We don’t but gifts.
  • We go out for dinner but NOT on Valentine’s, just around the time. (This year it will be a take-away, saving on the cooking and washing up time and spend it cuddling instead. That’s win win in my eyes).
  • We talk about what is going on in our lives, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk without the normal day to day distractions.
  • We don’t force sex, it isn’t a must just because of the date. It will be just as good, maybe better, on the 15th!

You always gain by giving love”

The ultimate rom-com lady, Reese Witherspoon

So, this unusual Valentine’s, give love by giving of your undivided time and listening ear and letting go of the need for perfection and gifts.

What plans do you have for Valentine’s? Will you change anything having read this article?

I loved to hear from you, I promise to reply. Me not a bot! Drop me an email, Facebook or Insta message anytime.

Let’s connect!

Jessica Staniforth

I’m a huge believer that opening up conversation around sex, with our partners, friends, family and communities will lead to more fulfilling and healthy sexual relationships. With conversation comes understanding, growth and a feeling that we are not all alone! I also love reading reverse harem romances, eating lots of ice-cream and nights when I have a babysitter.

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