Stumped on Valentine’s Day? Don’t be afraid to keep it simple

No need to heap on the pressure for Valentine’s Day. A simple, intimate gesture can be more than enough. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, but you don’t have to break the bank to create a special connection with your loved one.

Fancy travel plans and expensive gifts make for great pictures on social media, but the long-lasting effect will fade, just like those expensive roses. Or, if you spend too much, it can add stress to your relationship when the bills come in.

So, use science instead.

There are some simple and free things you can do to better your relationship this Valentine’s Day without spending a fortune, said Dr. Mariana Falconier, an associate professor in family science at the University of Maryland and affiliate faculty member in human development and family science at Virginia Tech.

One example is playing a board game together.

“There’s research showing when couples engage in those types of activities, there’s a release of oxytocin,” said Falconier, referring to the so-called “love hormone.”

“In addition to having a good time, you get closer to your partner,” she said.

Falconier added that another way to release a bit of that love hormone is to go back to your dating days and do some good, old-fashioned hand-holding.

She pointed to some studies where imaging was used, “we see that a partner’s touch, holding his or her hand, has a calming effect.”

“That physical connection we have with our partners tends to be very, very beneficial. The physical connection definitely enhances intimacy,” she said.

Sometimes, Falconier said, trying to do an over-the-top Valentine’s Day can have the opposite impact than hoped for, because of high expectations to have a certain level of fun or create a perfect memory. That can be stressful to the relationship.

It’s more about incorporating little things and staying connected, according to Falconier.

Here are a few more tips to enhance your relationship this Valentine’s Day without spending a dime:

  • Gaze into each other’s eyes. This is an intimate act that can help you
    connect on a deeper level.
  • Tell your partner something you are grateful for. Don’t just do this on
    Valentine’s Day. Do it every day.
  • Look at old pictures. That walk down memory lane is great for deepening
    your connection to one another.
  • Set a goal together for the future. Creating a joint goal and a path to
    get there helps bond you together as a team.
  • Tell jokes. The more humor you bring into your laughing hours, the more
    you will be able to bring into your darker hours and make them easier to
    get through.

Need more Valentine’s Day inspiration? Check out more from WTOP.

Editor’s note: This story has been edited to clarify a quote. 

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