You may be at the very beginning of a relationship. Perhaps you have only had a couple of dates. You have an interest, but there has been no serious conversation about any kind of commitment. Now Valentine’s Day is upon you, and you’d like to spend it with your new interest, but not in a romantic way. The whole candy, long-stemmed roses, jewelry “thing” smacks of romance and a quick way to turn off your “friend.”
Here are five rules to follow for a fun but non-romantic Valentine’s Day celebration
What’s going on in your town right now? Of course, hotels and upscale restaurants all have Valentine’s Day specials – complete with champagne and flowers. Check out your other options:
Is there a sporting event, a concert, or a movie that both of you would enjoy?
Is there a fast-food restaurant that both of you really like? Go for dinner there. Go inside, sit down, and present a funny table decoration – maybe some cheap candy that you used to enjoy as a kid.
If COVID prevents you from going to a scaled-down place to eat, order carryout. If you live in a warm climate, have a picnic in the park or on the beach. In a cold climate, you can go to a mall and sit in the food court, or to a big box bookstore that has tables and chairs. Then, you can spend some time exploring the book sections that are of the most interest.
Set up a game night with some other friends at your place. This allows your “interest” to see how you live in a situation that is anything but intimate.
Go to an all-around recreational center – you know, one that has food, video games, climbing walls, trampolines, etc.
Make an appointment with a fortune teller or palm reader for both of you. Afterward, find a pizza place.
It’s a nice gesture to give a gift. But flowers, candy, and jewelry just say too much for where you are in your relationship. Again, there are plenty of other options to consider, and they will depend on how much you know about your date so far:
Give a food bouquet, if you know at least some of the non-perishable foods they like. You can even make it yourself. If they are in college, you can pack up survival foods – ramen, popcorn, salami, even a gift card to the closest pizza joint
Do they have a pet? Pet gifts are the best! Go to the nearest big-box pet store – they have a huge selection. Barring that, get a gift card to that pet store so they can pick their own.
Give a book if you know their reading preferences. And big-box book stores have a huge supply of accessories for readers. If your date does read a lot, there are fancy bookmarks, for example, that don’t get worn or torn. Put a few in a red gift bag.
Give a game – this can be a video game, of course, but there are some great adult board games too.
A word about gift cards here: they are great “fallback” gifts when you are pressed for time and have no ideas. But they do show some lack of caring to take the time to find something meaningful. If you’re looking to move this non-committed relationship to the next level, take the time and skip the gift card convenience.
OMG – Have you looked through a Valentine’s card section in a store over the past few years? A huge selection of all sizes and shapes that can cost anywhere from $5 - $20, complete with flowery, romantic, and intimate messages of undying love and recorded love songs to boot.
This is obviously not where you are right now, no matter what you might want to be in the future.
Head for the humorous section of cards, and take your time reading them. Hopefully, you have an idea of your date’s sense of humor so pick one that will match that. There are plenty for people who are just friends or very early in their relationship. One I recently saw (and bought) went like this: On the cover were the words: “I knew you would love a dozen long-stems.” On the inside was only a picture – 12 stemmed wine glasses, each about half full. The cost? $4.99.
You may think you are being subtle by bringing up past relationships and talking about what went well and what did not. You aren’t. In fact, you are probably scaring your date a bit. Never talk about past relationships.
Don’t pay compliments that can be mis-understood as “come ons.” Telling a date that you love their eyes, their hair, their muscular build, etc. will be interpreted as a sexual overture – just don’t do it.
If you want to pay a compliment, say something like, “I really like that T-shirt – where did you get it?” This would be something you would say even to a casual friend or acquaintance.
Other than a few appropriate compliments, keep the conversation on topics that both of you find interesting. If you are both into politics, talk about that; if you both have serious concerns for the environment, that’s a great conversation, especially if you have recently read about some new research or innovations.
You can talk about your pets, about classes you are taking, about movies you recently saw, or the latest binge series you are into on Netflix.
The point is this: There are unlimited topics for conversation. If one flops, move onto another.
A famous line from Romeo and Juliet happens on that romantic balcony scene – “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” No, it’s not for you two. You had a great date and now it’s time to end it – that’s all.
Whether you are returning to your own cars or you are taking your date home doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you keep the good-bye light.
Can you give a hug? Of course. Even fully platonic friends hug each other. Just don’t accompany it with long caresses and rubbing.
Can you plant a simple kiss? Yes – short and sweet is the rule.
What do you say? Something like, “I had a great time. Thanks for spending the evening with me. It was fun.”
Instead of, “I really want to see you again soon,” make it, “We should get together again soon – I’ll give you a call.”
No matter what your current situation, you need to move slowly. Maybe you are on the rebound from a failed relationship; maybe you are not really interested in a romantic relationship with all of its obligations; maybe your date is in a similar position. You may have designs on a future with this date, and that’s great. Just remember the old saying, “Patience is a virtue.” Reel it in and focus on just having a good time. You want to leave that date feeling that they have been entertained, not hit on.
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