How do you make a lasting impression on Valentine's Day? Should you jump out of a plane with your beloved? Go kickboxing or cut a rug? According to "reality-based" dating coach Evan Marc Katz, planning a Valentine’s Day date that’s a bit outside of the norm is all about context.
Katz shoots from the hip, and is more likely to espouse the benefits of “subverting the Valentine's Day formula” than churn out recommendations for so-wacky-she’ll-never-forget date ideas.
Impressing the target of your ardor is not necessarily about thinking outside the box, says Katz. It’s more about thinking logically.
“If you want to impress someone who's atypical, ask yourself: Are they athletic? Are they creative?” says Katz. “Anything you choose should depend on who the partner is.”
A creative date means nothing if it doesn’t jive with the personality
and needs of your significant other, he says. If you know your partner
is afraid of heights and you sign him up for bungee-jumping lessons, for example, you're not being clever. You're being a jerk.
“What do you do the other 364 days that aren’t Valentine’s Day?” he asks. “If you know your partner, it becomes easy. It's not about thinking outside of the box, it's about giving your partner something they covet.”
Trying something new with your beloved isn't necessarily a bad idea. “There have been studies that show that, to keep relationships fresh, you have to keep doing things or the relationship can get stale,” says Katz. “Being active can create sparks, spikes of pleasure and positive memories, and we need these things to sustain us.” (See active ideas below.)
But what if you barely know the person with whom you’re spending the 14th of February? “The first thing I would say is not to have a first date on Valentine's Day,” Katz says. “There's too much pressure. Don't treat it as anything special. It's not. It's a first date.”
In a long-term relationship? “Use the day to pay attention to your relationship,” Katz says. “Spend a moment to appreciate your partner. Make it like Thanksgiving. It's about the celebration of the union.”
David Wygant is just as straightforward as Katz. The dating coach, who claims to be “anti-Valentine’s Day,” says the lovey-dovey holiday is a bit overblown.
Why go out to dinner and overpay for the same meal you could easily have any other day of the week for less, he reasons? “Just because they hire a bad singer and sing some cheesy love songs," he laughs. "It’s expectation night.”
Even if Wygant comes off a bit prickly, he’s got a point — and some good advice.
“Be different on Valentine’s Day, because that’s what it’s all about,” he says. “Every day is Valentine’s Day. If you don’t honor and love each other every day, one day is not going to change it. It’s not going to make your relationship any better because you spent $100 on dinner.”
Take a 'stay-cation': Dinner is cliche, says Wygant. Try taking your beloved to a slumber party, instead. "Every city has a downtown business district. Go to Kayak.com and look at hotels that have a business crowd will have the cheapest rate for Friday and Saturday nights. Go to a hotel, order room service and a movie. Then stay in bed all morning until check out.
Put on your dancing shoes: “Go take a salsa lesson together,” says Wygant. “That’s something that’s out of the box and fun.” Many cities have dance instructors, well-versed in salsa. Don't forget about the foxtrot, the tango and anything else that gets your feet moving — even if that means line dancing.
Run a Valentine’s Day race: “There’s so much pressure behind Valentine’s Day,” says Wygant. Not many things get you moving like running a race. What a better way to blow off some steam and relieve Valentine's Day pressure? If you aren't a runner, try taking a fitness class together to get in shape. Experts do say that one key to a steamy (in a good way) relationship is getting plenty of exercise. Visit www.active.com to find a race near you.
Tie one on: An apron that is. “Go take a cooking class together,” says Wygant. Learning how to make something together is an incredibly bonding experience. If you get to eat it afterward, that's even better. Look locally for cooking classes in which you and your lover can enroll, and watch the sparks fly. Not into lifting a spatula on Valentine's Day? Consider a wine-tasting class, instead.
Get deep: “Do something offbeat and different,” Wygant says. May we suggest learning how to scuba dive? You might be surprised to learn that you don’t need to head to the ocean to learn how to dive. Locate a PADI dive certification center near you. Already certified? Hit the water! Some of the best dive locations can be found here.