With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and no firm end date to the UK’s current lockdown, most plans for 14 February remain up in the air.
But south west London dating and relationship expert Lara Asprey has plenty of tips on how to make this year’s occasion one to remember.
The Love Company founder has matched hundreds of couples over her career and knows first hand what it takes to make or break a relationship.
Lara, along with three couples, share their advice on how to still enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day in lockdown.
Just another day at home?
“Days can feel monotonous at the moment, so think of ways to make subtle differences to your routine for Valentine’s Day,” said Lara.
“Instead of just ordering a meal for two from Deliveroo, why not cook something nice for your partner? Put in some effort and make something with love.”
That’s exactly the plan for Lisa, 24 and Karim, 25 who have been quarantining together in their Pimlico flat since March 2020.
Lisa explained: “We’re both massive foodies, so love to go all out with our cooking – we’ve bought some confit duck and will probably also do some cheese and wine for pudding too!
“Last year we went out for dinner at a really cool little restaurant in Hackney, so this year’s plans are quite different actually.”
Meanwhile, for Rob, 27, this will be his first Valentine’s day with boyfriend Sif, 26.
He said: “Sif and I would normally go out for a nice long date consisting of entertainment and dinner. In lockdown though, we usually cook meals together, but try different recipes.
“We’ll buy an assortment of cheeses and wine to fake an Italian getaway and make fresh pasta whilst listening to ‘The Four Seasons’ by Vivaldi.”
How can I be more romantic in lockdown?
Lara encourages couples to think about each other’s love language.
She added: “For some, this would mean spending some quality time together, whilst others would hugely appreciate gifts or acts of service.”
For Rob and Sif, this means surprising each other with small but meaningful things.
Rob said: “It could be putting toothpaste on the other’s toothbrush so when they come into the bathroom to brush their teeth it is already there, or making each other coffee and just letting the other person know it’s on the table.”
Lisa agreed, and said for her and Karim it’s all about spontaneity
She added: “We’ll grab some spontaneous flowers or snacks when one of us goes to the shop which, although small, feels very cute.”
What if I can’t spend Valentine’s Day with my partner?
This is the reality for Dorothy, 22, who lives in Streatham and hasn’t seen her Newhaven girlfriend Karla, 22, in person since last year.
“Nothing compares to actually spending physical time with your partner.” said Dorothy.
“This lockdown feels sometimes like there’s no guaranteed end, and that scares me in a way for my relationship because I don’t know when I’m next seeing her.”
If you’re living in another area to your partner it can feel like you’re worlds away, but Lara argues that it needn’t.
She explained: “Instead of focusing on the fact you can’t see each other, try to channel your energy into the positive aspects of your life.
“You still have each other in your lives and will see each other soon, plus if you’re healthy that is something to be really grateful for at the moment.”
Similarly to our previous couples, Dorothy and Karla have planned for a dinner date, but this time virtually.
Dorothy said: “We’re dressing up in fancy clothes as if we were going to the shard or something, and having a romantic meal on FaceTime.
“I’ll be drinking, so we’ll see where the night takes us!”
Lara added: “FaceTime calls are pushing us to speak to each other more than we would normally.
“Try to make your call a bit more special by talking about the ten things you love most about each other.”
Regardless of how you’re spending your Valentine’s Day, near or far from your partner, Lara encourages you to use this day to build better communication and connection.
“You know your partner better than anyone, so have a think about what would really make them feel valued and special,” said Lara.
“Don’t forget to communicate that despite the lockdown you still love them and are looking forward to all the adventures you can do together when things go back to normal.”
Featured image credit: Alan Strutt via Jaine Brent