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How to make Valentine’s Day special, according to a UF relationship expert

  • Don’t assume you know what your partner wants to do. Talk with your partner about how they want to spend Valentine’s Day.
  • Put away distractions, including your phone. Give each other your undivided attention.
  • Single on Valentine’s Day? Take time to strengthen relationships with family and friends

Love and relationships can be tough, and the pandemic hasn’t made them any easier.

Still, [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Valentine’s Day 2021 is an opportunity to reflect on how to make our relationships healthier, according to University of Florida relationship expert Victor Harris.[/inlinetweet]

Harris leads the UF/IFAS Smart Couples Program, which offers free online healthy relationship classes to adults, teens, couples and individuals. These trainings teach participants what healthy relationships look like and how to nurture them.

Valentine’s Day can bring up some specific challenges for both couples and individuals. Harris shares these tips for spending the day in a way that’s meaningful for you.

Talk about what you want to do

Ask your partner what they would like to do on Valentine’s Day. Sounds simple, right?

“Often we assume we know what our partner wants to do for a special occasion. But assuming can result in us doing more or less than our partner would like, which leads to disappointment,” Harris said. “Asking shows you care and brings you closer.”

Take time to get to know your partner

For many, Valentine’s Day 2021 will mainly be spent at home. Harris says this is a great opportunity to get to know your partner even better.

“Even if you’ve been together for years, there are fun activities you can do that will help bring you closer,” Harris said.

Harris suggests a game called Love Maps. In this game, partners take turns asking each other about their favorite things and what’s important to them. For example, you might ask, “What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to?” or “Who is your favorite musician?”

You can also play a version where instead of asking questions, partners take turns stating what the each other’s favorite things are and seeing how accurate they can be.

Make your time together your time

“We juggle three types of relationships in our lives: our relationship with ourselves, with our family and friends, and with our job or schoolwork. To keep everything balanced, we need to set aside time for each of these relationships,” Harris said.

Valentine’s Day can be an opportunity to set aside time for just you and your partner. “Again, this is about making a plan together for how you want to spend this time,” Harris said.

Be present

Whatever you decide to do for Valentine’s Day, make sure it’s distraction free, Harris said.

“Put your phones in another room, turn off any screens and just be together in the moment,” he said.

If you’re single, make the day about the relationships you have

“People often say they don’t like Valentine’s Day because it’s reminder that they aren’t in a romantic relationship,” Harris said.

“My suggestion for single people who are looking for a romantic relationship is to work on strengthening their relationships with other people in their lives—family, friends, even themselves,” he said. “Start mastering the skills for healthy relationships so you can make that romantic relationship strong when you find it.”

To learn more about how you can strengthen the relationships in your life, visit Smartcouples.org.