Not so sweet on Valentine’s Day?

If you are tired of the Valentine’s Day hype, you are not alone. Couples and single folks everywhere have had enough of chocolate hearts and candy kisses — and with good reason! Unlike most holidays that encourage people to relax and enjoy time with family and friends, Valentine’s Day seems to do the exact opposite!

More and more couples are deciding that Valentine’s Day seems to lead to nothing but dashed expectations, impossibly long lines at the grocery store and wilted, overpriced bouquets. But despite all of this stress, most couples still feel pressure to participate in this holiday. After all, nobody wants to be the only person in the cubicle without a vase of roses, just like nobody wanted to be the only kid in grade school who didn’t get a Valentine.

Yes, when it comes down to it, Valentine’s Day might just be a holiday where you look around the room to make sure you aren’t the only person who didn’t receive a little store-bought love. Blame it on our materialistic society, or on our inevitable dead-of-winter boredom, but when Feb. 14 rolls around, too many relationships are evaluated on the basis of the extravagance and thoughtfulness of one's partner on this specific day.

Of course it's fine to decide you don't “do” Valentine's Day. But if you are in a relationship, make sure you are both on the same page about it first.

Ultimately, even if you don't want to participate in the hype, I still believe Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to reconnect with your partner in a small way and remind both of you of the love you share. This is especially so in long-term relationships.

So in that spirit, here are some low-impact tips to help even the most unwilling Cupids survive the Valentine’s Day hype and still get the benefits to the relationship.

  • If your partner claims to not want anything, he or she probably doesn't mean it, completely. Even someone who claims to want “nothing” for Valentine’s Day will feel a twinge of disappointment when his or her partner comes home empty-handed. A single flower, a sweet card, or takeout from a favorite restaurant show that you were thinking about your partner during the day.

  • Understand the value of Valentine's Day. Don’t forget to show your partner some extra appreciation on this day for lovers. Yes, she knows you love her, but sometimes it is just nice to see this love acted out in a romantic way.
  • Don’t break the bank. One man recently told me he bought his girlfriend a cruise for Valentine’s Day. It was very sweet … but also very unnecessary! A little home-cooked meal or handwritten love note would have brought the same smile to her face, and he wouldn’t have had to go for broke just to prove his undying love. Cruises are nice, but so is a long back massage or candlelit dinner.

  • One more thing: Valentine's Day should always be a two-way expression of love. I can't tell you how many men have told me their girlfriends/wives never give them anything but always expect something. Men need to be appreciated as much as women do!

Dr. Laura Berman is the director of the in Chicago, a specialized health care facility dedicated to helping women and couples find fulfilling sex lives and enriched relationships. She is also an assistant clinical professor of OB-GYN and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She has been working as a sex educator, researcher and therapist for 18 years.