Love Advice: Valentine's Day date survival guide
One message I really want to get across is to dispel the myth we have about love, that there's only one person out there who can make us happy. The search for 'The One'.
It's a silly concept because there are lots of people out there who can make you happy. These days, people have more than one serious relationship.
So if you're feeling really down this Valentine's Day because it didn't work out with someone who you feel was the love of your life, calm down. You will love again. Just as much as you did before.
Just because it didn't work out with this person doesn't mean you're going to be alone forever. There are lots of people out there who can make you happy, not just one.
For some, Valentine's Day is a kind of litmus test for a relationship, should so much be invested on one day, once a year?
The thing about birthdays, anniversaries and 'important' events is that it's not really about what they mean to you but more what they mean to your partner.
You might think they're a load of old bollocks but if your partner thinks marking 'important' days is a sure sign you love them, is it any skin off your nose to make a fuss if it'll make them so happy?
Having said that, if you're the person who thinks your partner can't possibly care if they don't come armed with fancy packages on your birthday, here's a gentle reminder: romance doesn't always come packaged up in heart-shaped boxes.
For men, particularly, actions speak clearer than words. Washing your car or picking you up from work when you're sick might not seem terribly romantic, but it's actually a hell of a lot more thoughtful and time consuming than pushing a few buttons to order a dozen roses.
What tips and/or advice would you give people who are going on a 'first date' this Valentine's Day?
Gosh! Talk about pressure!! Valentine's day is hard enough for established couples, let alone people who've never even been out before. One thing you can assume for sure though: you both REALLY like each other. No-one asks someone out for Valentine's Day if they're feelings are wishy-washy or they're just after sex.
And few people accept a date with someone they're not that keen on because the significance of the day will make the night romantic and loaded with expectations even if you don't want it to be. (PS If you've asked someone out or accepted a date with someone less than special just because you won't want to spend Valentine's Day alone, do yourself a favour next year - BUY A PUPPY!)
How to get through the night without it all getting prematurely heavy? Skip the fancy restaurant for something light and fun. Have a celebratory cocktail to mark the occasion somewhere posh and chi-chi but then move onto a fun eating place (preferably one not infected with red-everything and violin players) and try your best to forget about it! On a first date you should be looking lustily into each other's eyes, not longingly!!
What are some signs/clues people should look out for to see how their Valentine's date is going?
Escape to the loo halfway through the date, look yourself in a cubicle, take a deep breath and ask yourself three questions:
1. What are we talking about? The topics should have freely meandered all over the place with a nice balance between light and heavy, preferably more light than heavy.
2. What's their body language telling me? Do they seem relaxed? Are they sitting the same way you are? Do they seem open? Are they leaning forward, making lots of eye contact?
3. Am I sending the right signals? If you're uncertain they like you, it could be because you're sending them mixed signals. Make sure your body language tells them in no uncertain terms you like them: move closer, mirror their body language (a surefire way to bond) and touch them on their hand, forearm or shoulder. If they move toward your touch, it's a good sign.
Do you have any suggestions on how a couple can do something different and liven things up this Valentines Day?
If you're been together forever, have a bed picnic for Valentine's Day. Spend the day shopping for treats: foods you can eat in bed (chocolate dipped strawberries, dips and fancy breadsticks, exotic pates, oysters), foods you can smear over each other (cream, bananas, yoghurt), loads of bubbles (to drink)...
Buy three good sex books loaded with sexy pictures (to read together for inspiration - it's great for the shy. Much easier to point to what they'd like to try than have to blurt it out), sexy movies to watch, sexy cds to listen to - and of course, sexy lingerie/boxers to lounge around in.
Now isn't that a bit more interesting than sitting formally across from each other in a stiff restaurant?