Valentine’s Day can be a nerve-wracking day for both singles and couples alike.
It can be a lot of pressure and not always because you’ve been together for a long time, but because you’ve just met. Do you go on a date? Do you buy a gift? Or will flowers suffice?
FEMAIL’s panel of dating and etiquette experts have shared everything you need to know about what to do – and what not to do – for your celebrations to help you navigate the tricky waters of romantic gestures.
With less than three weeks to go until Valentine’s Day, what is the right etiquette to mark the date when you’ve been dating for a week, a month, six months or a year?
Valentine’s Day can be a nerve-wracking day for both singles and couples alike (stock image)
As a general rule, online dating coach Perri Schneider recommends if you’re newly dating, opt for a ‘cute date night with your partner.’ Maybe try a new restaurant or go see a movie and ‘get all the snacks to share.’
For couples who have been dating for at a least ‘a few months,’ Schneider thinks it’s appropriate to celebrate the day.
As a general rule, online dating coach Perri Schneider recommends if you’re newly dating, opt for a cute date night
She added if it was still ‘fresh’ (like if you met in January) it’s probably not necessary to celebrate. If you do end up going on a date, there’s definitely no need for gift-giving or ‘anything over the top.’
As for those who have been dating for longer, Schneider told DailyMail.com that she would encourage steering clear of ‘cheesy store bought gifts and aim for a meaningful present for your partner.’
‘One of the best ways to spend Valentine’s Day is cooking together at home, or ordering take out and getting cozy on the couch,’ she said.
‘Let this holiday mark how much you care and appreciate your partner.’
But remember even if the day is ‘filled with stress and unreasonable expectations – try not to let this get in the way of you having a fun romantic time with your partner.’
And no matter what you decide etiquette expert Jackie Vernon-Thompson reminds people not to wait until the day or hours before.
‘A last-minute gift speaks volumes,’ she told DailyMail.com, adding: ‘Don’t forget, it is also appropriate to reciprocate. It should never be one-sided.’
Vernon-Thompson and another etiquette expert have broken down what they would do if they were in your shoes.
The two questions you need to ask before deciding what to do on Valentine’s Day
Before deciding on what to do on Valentine’s Day, you should first ascertain the status of relationship, etiquette expert Myka Meier says.
Meier – who trained in Switzerland and in London under a former member of staff of the late Queen Elizabeth II – says you need to ask two questions about the person you’re dating: ‘Are you exclusive?’ and ‘How long have you been dating?’
‘If you answer yes to the first question, regardless of how long you’ve been dating, then I advise to absolutely plan to mark the day with either a gift, a celebratory meal, date, card or similar,’ the founder of Beaumont Etiquette told DailyMail.com.
Depending on your answers to these two questions, this will help you determine what is appropriate for the relationship (stock image)
‘Then, to determine the level of thought and effort that goes into the gift, my second question is: “How long have you been dating?”‘
Once you have the answers to these two questions worked out, you can then use the following graphic provided by Meier to help you make the right call.
Each scenario is categorized under the neutral zone (orange), date zone (green), or gift and/or date zone (pink).
Meier shared this graph showing neutral, date, and gift and/or date zone, depending on whether you’re exclusive or not exclusive, and how long you’ve been dating
To help you along even further, Meier has given the following advice…
If you’ve been dating for a week, a V-Day text or card is all you need…
Etiquette expert Myka Meier says two questions needs to be asked: ‘Are you exclusive?’ and ‘How long have you been dating?’
In general terms, Meier says the neutral zone usually applies to relationships that have been going on for under 30 days and you’re not exclusive.
‘Depending on how strongly you feel for the person, for anything under one month, it’s generally not expected that you will celebrate together unless you have already determined you are exclusive,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘From one week to one month [for non-exclusive couples], a Happy Valentine’s Day acknowledgement over text may be all that’s in the cards.
‘That being said, if you really want to show interest in someone, asking them out on this day will certainly show high interest.’
If you’ve been dating for a month, you should go on a date…
Meanwhile if you are exclusive and you’ve been dating for a month, Meier says you should go on a date.
‘To show respect to the person you are dating, or that you wish to continue the relationship with the person, an invitation to celebrate is a great way to show your feelings,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘Most people dating will expect an invitation to celebrate the day.’
In general terms, Meier says the neutral zone usually applies to relationships that have been going on for under 30 days and you’re not exclusive (stock image)
If you’ve been dating for six months to one year, show your commitment by getting a gift or going on a date…
From six months onwards, Meier says this is the gift and/or date zone.
‘The majority of people will expect you not only to acknowledge your relationship on this day, but to also celebrate the other person,’ she said.
‘If you want to show you’re serious about someone, a gift and or a date would be seen as a great way to show how you feel, and that you want to continue the direction at which the relationship is headed.’
Don’t over do it, remember to keep it appropriate
If you’ve determined that you want to give gift, Vernon-Thompson reminds people to keep it appropriate.
The founder of From The Inside Out School Of Etiquette says your gift selection could set the tone of your relationship, but don’t overdo it.
If you’ve been dating for one week, avoid gifts that will change a person’s daily habits…
Jackie Vernon-Thompson says if you’ve determined that you want to give a gift, remember to keep it appropriate
Vernon-Thompson says when selecting a gift don’t spend a ‘significant amount of money’ or buy a gift ‘that alters the person’s everyday life, appearance, or even something that suggests they should wear it daily, like jewelry.’
‘Keep in mind, they are in the process of determining if the relationship will be long term just as you are. Therefore, you should not go all out assuming they wish to flaunt what you may have given them,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘Your gift, after one week, should be something subtle, but nice and thoughtful. A nice valentine card or even a book… with a hand-written note inside communicating your appreciation of them and how much you look forward to knowing them better. You may even add a rose.
‘What you don’t want to do is scare them off or overwhelm them by saying in the card how much you love them and can’t see your life without them. That is called overkill and somewhat obsessive. No one feels comfortable in that situation.’
Vernon-Thompson has first-hand experience of when someone goes overboard with a romantic gesture.
If you’ve been dating for a week, Vernon-Thompson advises ‘a nice Valentine card or even a book… with a hand-written note inside’ as a lovely gift (stock image)
‘I recall dating a guy in my mid-20s while living in a condo. The association did not permit pickup trucks to be parked on the premises after 5pm. This was a bit of a challenge for us. Nonetheless, we were just getting to know each other,’ she said.
‘It was no more than a month, this young man showed up at my door after 5pm with a huge smile on his face. I wondered what was happening. It turns out, he literally traded in his truck at the dealership and purchased a car with added payments just so he can visit me after 5pm and park his vehicle.
‘Needless to say, I was not amused nor flattered. That was too much of a sacrifice for a relationship of less than a month and it indicated to me that he was not the best decision maker. It is safe to say that we did not last long at all. Nice guy, but not for me.’
When selecting a gift don’t spend a ‘significant amount’ or buy a gift ‘that alters the person’s everyday life, appearance, or even something that suggests they should wear it daily
‘You should not go all out assuming they wish to flaunt what you may have given them,’ Vernon-Thompson said
If you’ve been dating for a month, it’s crucial to tread lightly, but get a gift with more significance…
Vernon-Thompson considers this the ‘tread softly zone’ as you may have developed real feelings, so ‘don’t overdo it.’
‘However, I would say the gift can be a bit more significant [than those dating for a week] and you may increase the price,’ she said.
‘Assuming you have had countless conversations, you have learned each other’s daily routine and pattern, you have somewhat settled into the relationship, and now just learning day by day, experience by experience about each other, a gift such as a nice watch – priced within reason, their favorite fragrance, a dozen of red roses, or even dinner at a fine restaurant plus a dozen roses, would be appropriate.
‘This says, ‘I’m serious and wish to see where this relationship takes us.’ This is not too much.’
Vernon-Thompson considers the one-month mark as the ‘tread softly zone’ as you may have developed real feelings, so ‘don’t overdo it’
If you’ve been dating for six months to a year, wedding bells may be on the horizon…
This is the point where a relationship gets ‘really serious,’ Vernon-Thompson says.
The etiquette expert said this is when gifts can step it up a notch,’ becoming more sentimental and thoughtful.’
‘By this time, both parties, if serious, should know whether or not this is the one or are heavily considering it. The Valentine gift can be of higher value both in quality and investment,’ Vernon-Thompson told DailyMail.com.
The etiquette expert said the six-month to one-year period is when gifts can ‘step it up a notch,’ becoming ‘more sentimental and thoughtful,’ such as jewelry (stock image)
‘This is when your gift signifies the notion that you wish to be with them long term. You may present gifts such as: jewelry – a charm bracelet that you intend to add a pendant each Valentine or special occasion, a shopping spree including a preferred garment to wear when you both go out on Valentine’s evening… or anything that says, I see you, I appreciate you, I may have even fallen in-love with you.
‘There is nothing wrong with taking your partner grocery shopping to buy just what you both prefer for dinner and together you prepare a nice candlelight dinner in your quiet space. To top it off, add a hand-written note and if you have fallen in love, say it.’
Vernon-Thompson says some people may even go as for to get an engagement ring.
‘Believe it or not, many fall in love and are married within 6 months to a year depending on how serious they are in the relationship and the stage they are in life. Talk about romantic and sentimental? Yes, love is beautiful,’ she said.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk