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It’s Valentine’s Day but we’ve only just started dating!

Valentine’s Day is a special day for lonely hearts to express their interest in someone, and for couples to celebrate their love. Most of us enjoy an excuse for a bit of romance. But what if you’re in the early stages of a relationship, or you’ve only been on a few dates and don’t yet know where it’s going? Awkward.

Should you go all out with the flowers, chocolates and a posh restaurant, or is that too much, too soon? Should you ignore the day altogether, or will the person you’re dating be disappointed? HopefulGirl offers her top three tips for new (or not-quite) couples navigating 14th February…

1. Open up a conversation

If you’re concerned about how to approach the big day, the best thing is to talk about it beforehand – you can get rid of any awkwardness and find out what the other person’s expectations are. You could open the conversation casually with: ‘So, it’s Valentine’s Day next week. I’m not sure how to treat it, since we haven’t been seeing each other long – would you like to do something?’ Then see how they respond, or maybe suggest something low-key. A candle-lit dinner for two may be too much at this stage, but coffee and cake in a nice café, a riverside walk, cooking a meal together (if you’re confident you’re safe to be alone at this stage), or a trip to a gallery, exhibition or concert can all be lovely, unpressured activities to enjoy together.

2. Keep gifts simple

It’s hard to know how to pitch a Valentine’s gift when you’ve only just started dating someone. If you don’t give them anything, they could be hurt and feel you’re not really interested in them – or that you’re not a romantic person (which might be something that’s important to them in a partner). On the other hand, if you pull out all the stops, you could either embarrass them because they haven’t done the same; or seem over-keen and overwhelm them, potentially pushing them away. A dozen red roses or a piece of jewellery is likely to be overkill, unless you’re both certain you’re serious about the relationship. The best approach is a simple, token gift – something sweet and thoughtful, but not expensive or lavish. For instance, a single flower or pretty pot plant, some homemade cupcakes, or a book or CD you think they’ll love. As for a Valentine’s card, if you’re not yet sure where the relationship is going, it might be best to go for a light-hearted or humorous one.

3. Don’t take it personally

If the person you’re dating doesn’t do anything for Valentine’s Day, try not to take it to heart. Some people see Valentine’s Day as a silly, commercial event for teenagers, and might be surprised to learn you’re upset that they haven’t acknowledged it. I once threw an indignant wobbly after I sent a thoughtful Valentine’s gift to a slightly older chap I’d been dating for a few weeks, and got nothing in return. He was baffled (‘But isn’t Valentine’s for kids…?’) and tried to make it up to me, but I was quite offended! I feel silly about my reaction now. If someone’s not into hearts and flowers on 14th February, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not into you, or that they won’t make a good or romantic long-term partner. But don’t stew about it silently – gently tell them that romantic gestures mean a lot to you, and hopefully they’ll take it on board next time.

How would you handle Valentine’s Day if you’ve just started dating someone? We’d love to hear your top tips!

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