Don't Do Dinner: 6 Alternative Date Ideas for Valentine's Day

Sharing new experiences creates bonds between couples, so to celebrate Valentine's Day this year, dabble in a new activity.
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Every year around this time, we listen to and internalize advertisements for Valentine's Day ideas that give us false hope. The lies, repeated ad nauseam by certain retailers, promise that the better the Valentine's Day date, the better the partner, the better the relationship, and the better the sex.

Despite being a matchmaker who despises this "holiday" in general, I see the value in couples celebrating one specific day each year where they make a genuine effort to show their love for each other. However, so many of us worry about what to do and/or buy for our partner that the stress literally seeps from our pores leading up to the 14th of February. Rather than just "doing dinner," do something truly memorable. Here are a few fresh and simple date concepts for Valentine's Day.

1. Distract. Many Valentine's Day dates get clouded with unnecessary interruptions. With social media constantly tapping us on the shoulder, we often focus too much of our energy on taking the perfect selfie, then the perfect head-to-toe shot, then "checking in" to the sexy-and-hard-to-get-reservations-in restaurant, then texting your a friend with something along the lines of "OMG. He got me three dozen roses!" It goes on and on. We're all guilty of it, so no judgment here. My strong suggestion is to distract your partner not with check-ins and constant Instagraming, but with complete attention, deep conversation, unwavering eye contact. This will distract her/him -- in a good way.

2. Delegate. Your favorite people always want to help you, in any capacity, right? Though it's not their responsibility to watch the kids and buy you lingerie for the big night, they can offer seemingly small but awesome advice for Valentine's Day. Ask your close friends where their favorite non-dinner date was last year. Have your sibling tell you a story about the most romantic date (s)he had when (s)he first met her/his partner. Call your local matchmaker and ask her about the most creative date a client arranged in the past year (trust me, we love sharing stories). Delegate these tasks and you'll soon have a laundry list of fantastic date ideas for Valentine's Day.

3. Divulge. If you don't do something like this regularly, it will really rev both your engines. Spend at least 15 minutes completely uninterrupted and alone in deep thought on the ways you love your partner. You should settle into an almost meditative state if you want to get something out of this exercise. If your work deadline enters your mind -- don't stress about it -- just slowly take a deep breath and feel it leave you mind. Once you feel almost high on reflection of the love that exists with you and your partner, divulge. Share your thoughts with your partner when you can be uninhibited -- this might be an emotional moment. Maybe share it in a quiet moment, like right before turning off the lights in bed. Opening up and being vulnerable with your partner will reaffirm your connection.

4. Dabble. Sharing new experiences creates bonds between couples, so to celebrate Valentine's Day this year, dabble in a new activity. Don't make it overly complicated -- no reason to spend a fortune on "gear" needed to give a new activity a go. Maybe take something from the "delegate" list and try it for one hour. Always wanted to take a painting class? Dabble by finding a "paint and sip" party locally to go to together instead of buying canvas and hiring an instructor. Think hiking would be fun with your partner? Google a local trail and dabble in the sport -- do the easiest and shortest route. Who knows -- dabbling in a new activity could create a fresh hobby for you and your partner to share. Start on Valentine's Day -- it will create an unforgettable memory.

5. DINK (it). For whatever amount of time you can dedicate to it, if not your entire Valentine's Day, pretend you are once again a DINK couple (dual income, no kids). Parents work so hard to provide for the little ones in their lives, so allow yourself and your partner to spend some time as you did when kids weren't part of the picture. I don't mean find the closest luxury car dealership to blow their college fund on a new toy. Do the simple things. Listen to the music you were into before it was nothing but the "Frozen" soundtrack or hideous teen pop. Bake a ridiculously unhealthy meal at midnight. Rent a racy movie that reminds you of your pre-parent (or pre-marriage?) days. Kiss in the backseat of your car (after you take the car seat out, obviously). Splurge on a nice bottle of wine from the winery that got nixed when you had kids/mortgage/college funds to prioritize. This could be all day or for ten minutes. The point is to revel in the two of you and who you are, alone, briefly. The revived connection will be electric.

6. Dare. The unknown can be scary -- but also extremely sexy. Decide that you and your partner will dare each other to do something new and for each other on Valentine's Day. This could be something clean and family friendly like "I dare you to not try the homemade spaghetti sauce until dinner is ready." Or, it could be something racier like "I dare you to ignore the little red box under my pillow." Anticipation makes endorphins rage. The more endorphins, the better your date night will be.

Want more dating or relationship advice? Send Meghann a note at or find her on Twitter at @MegNovinskie.

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