Where to go, what to buy, how to survive…
Casual relationships are awesome. They’re exciting, there’s no cringing through a “meet-the-parents” date, and there are no expectations. Except there is. It’s Valentine’s Day, and even though you’re in the allusive grey area twilight zone between single and together, you need to make a move. The stakes are high. You can’t do nothing, but you can’t do 60-long-stemmed-roses-and-candle-lit-dinner either. You don’t want your casual flame to be running for the hills and changing their locks. So what do you buy? Where do you go? How do you broach the topic?! As self-appointed Queen of Casual Relationships, I’ve created a tried-and-tested formula for you to follow depending on where in the dating timeline you are.
0-2 MONTHS: EARLY DAYS
It’s tricky. According to relationship expert Rinatta Paries (What It Takes: Life Coaching), “This is the honeymoon period.” Translation: sex all the time, good morning texts, casual dates fueled by cocktails and conversation. You’re excited to see where it goes – it’s fun, it’s casual, and it’s easy… and you want to keep it that way. Your relationship is just starting to grow and if you put the weight of Valentines Day expectations on something so delicate, it could crumble.
Your V-Date should follow the early days date formula:
This formula applies to your sex-life, gifts, conversations and date ideas. So your best plan of attack for Feb 14? Ask them over, grab some awesome take-out and stay in for the night. It’s sweet and care-free, a perfect environment for your relationship to grow.
THE GREY ZONE
The “Are we? Aren’t we?” period. Navigating an early and unofficial relationship is never easy this time of year. If you disappoint, you fizzle out, and if you over-do it, it’ll blow up in your face. You need the right stick of dynamite. For the 2-4 month stage, that dynamite is The Perfect Dinner Date. It’s a flawless recipe tailored to suit the grey-zone couples of today.
It’s important to show that some thought went into your plans for the evening but you don’t want to be Gerard Butler in “PS I LOVE YOU” thoughtful. No global scavenger hunts of love, please. Pick a place that your partner has mentioned before, or really loves. Make sure it’s nice enough to host the evening but not black-tie and chandeliers. You want the environment to be as romantic as it is fun. And be sure to add that pinch of casual and easy for the night. Then end it all with a super fun adult sleep over (if you catch my very literal drift). Most importantly, don’t force/expect a grand gesture of love at this point.
“It’s nice to have rose petals on a king-sized hotel bed with a diamond ring in your champagne but that’s a later stage of a relationship and if you’re not there yet, rushing it is just toxic,” says Mrs D, a mother of four who’s still happily married to her high school sweetheart of 32 years. “Don’t put expectations like that on someone because then you end up being disappointed and bitter and it’ll ruin your relationship for nothing.”
THE FINISH LINE
You’re nearly there. It’s been a couple months, you have inside jokes, there are photos of you together on several social media platforms and people invite you to events as a unit. Even though it’s not exactly “Facebook official”, the pressure is on to plan a romantic evening. You don’t have the casually dating get-out-of-jail-free card anymore. The formula has changed,
Now if you’re one of those emotionally stable people I’ve heard about who welcome commitment and romance, then take in my carefully constructed formula and enjoy a candle lit dinner with some decently priced wine. But if you’re like me and feel a creeping claustrophobia at the “45% romantic/sweet” statistic, don’t give in to the panic!
You can still keep it cool and easy. Just because you’ve turned up the lovey-dovey, doesn’t mean you need to start organising a reception hall and flower arrangements. Focus more on the “30% thoughtful” element of the formula. What are your favourite places? Favourite movies? Favourite bands? Go with that. Plan an evening that reflects the fun memories you’ve made and the things you’ve learned about each other. That’s what I did, and it helped me overcome the fear of roses and plush toys.
Now every relationship is different, and I’m not saying I know everything (which I totally do) so what you really need to remember is to chill out and take it slow. It’s just another day of the year. As Mrs D says, “enjoy where you’re at, even if it’s square one. Forget the pressure and assumptions, just have fun and take that night to get to know each other just a little bit more.”
Top Image from: just-a-tiny-bit-odd’s Tumblr page.