Updated: May 16, 2020
I've never been a fan of Valentine's as "ye ole day of lovers." There's a few reasons for this:
I think couples should celebrate their love the other 364 days of the year as well.
It can be uncomfortable or even painful for singles, whether they chose to be single or not. (things such as a recent break-up or the passing of a significant other can cause great pain)
It puts a lot of pressure on a single day -- pressure to spend more or look sexier in order to "prove" your love.
No one should be expected to prove their love completely to another person on a single day of the year. In fact, this mentality that there is one day for love gives some people an the excuse they're looking for to treat their significant others poorly for the remainder of the year.
Not only that, but the idea that some people max their credit card to do this boggles my mind.
It's one thing to treat your love to a nice dinner out at a quality restaurant with a great atmosphere. But why do that the one day a year every other person is trying to get reservations at the most expensive places in town? Fancy restaurants, chocolate companies, florists, jewelers, greeting card manufacturers, and lingerie stores; all these places hype up this one day of the year simply because they benefit most from it.
They think they're selling romance.
But romance can't be commercialized.
I looked up a few different definitions for the word "romance," and my favorites by far have to be from the dictionary at lexico.com (an online dictionary powered by Oxford).
The first two definitions for the noun "romance" are, 1) "A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love." and 2) "A quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life."
I think that second definition is especially important, because we don't often think of everyday life in terms of romance. We think of it as being romanced, candlelit dinners and champagne, a slow waltz to the crooning voice on the stereo, the biggest bouquet of red roses the supermarket sells.
While many of these things are romantic, they shouldn't shape our definition of romance or love.
I long to live in a state of constant romance, allowing myself to find joy daily in various actions and interactions between me and my spouse, me and my friends, me and myself, me and my God.
Romance does not need to be solely directed at our significant other.
While it is certainly important to focus on romancing your partner -- especially after marriage -- it should not be the sole context for romance in our lives. If you love your spouse, friends, self, God, family, etc., then don't you think you should take time to express that love in a way that they can appreciate? No matter the time of year?
After being blasted with all of the Valentine's Day advertisements and pink and red hearts, the thought of romance being an everyday thing seems like an odd concept.
Once you begin thinking of romance beyond the commercial ideal, though, you might find that you wouldn't have it any other way. The art of romance can be applied liberally to many various aspects of life, whether you are single, dating, newlywed, have kids, or are widowed.
I wanted to compile some ideas for romancing the loved ones in your life, including yourself, to help get you started.
Romance between me and myself.
Romancing yourself can be a lot of fun. Partly because, frankly, we don't always take the time to get to know ourselves, and that's part of what romance is! Romancing yourself has a lot to do with taking time to do the things you enjoy, that help you relax, and even discovering new things on your own just for fun.
Pick out a new book or an old favorite & schedule time to sit down to read it
Try out a new coffee or tea shop to relax at for an hour
Search for a pretty park in your neighborhood & feed the birds
Take yourself out to a movie you want to see, alone
Volunteer at your local animal shelter for a day or ask to play with the kitties at the petstore
Visit that local shop you've been curious about awhile & wander through
Find a pretty picture online to print black & white, then color it in
Buy rain boots before spring comes & give yourself permission to splash in the puddles
Wander your local library, pick up a comic book or novella to read there
Treat yourself to a meal out, alone, & don't rush eating
Take a walk with your earbuds & your favorite album on
Grab a snack & a deck of cards for a game of solitaire
Toss your towel in the dryer for a quick warm-up before a relaxing bath or shower
Pay for the food/drink of the person in line behind you (giving just-because will put a smile on your face)
A lot of these ideas could actually be turned into dates with friends or a significant other, but it's good for us to realize that we can do these things on our own, too.
Romance between me and my friends.
Romancing your friends is mostly about intentionality. How well do you really know your friends? If you know them pretty well, then you might be able to come up with some creative "date" ideas on your own. If you realize you don't know them as well as you might have thought, or even if you do, you can try out some of these activities below together.
Take a walk on the beach at sunrise or sunset & search for shells
Set up round robin board game or card game competitions for a group
Look up dancing tutorials on the internet & learn them together
Get shallow tubs, scented bath salts, & pumice stones for a foot spa day at-home
Write a story together, either by trading each sentence or mailing a paragraph each week
Set up a scavenger hunt to find a small gift or leading to their favorite restaurant
Take free online quizzes together & compare results
Scrounge a thrift store or your parents' closet for a puzzle to do together
Bring them an inexpensive bouquet of wildflowers or colorful daisies
Take turns reading poems or music lyrics that you like to each other
Pull out blank paper & draw each other
Email them a gift card to their favorite restaurant/coffee shop/ice cream spot just because
Swap your favorite books or music albums & write down notes about each chapter/track to share when you're done reading/listening to them
If you're in a dating or married relationship it can be easy to forget to go out with our friends just like we do our significant others. A lot of things we would do as a date can be done with friends, and vice versa. Dates don't have to be fancy to be fun, either! It's the "together" part of doing something together that matters.
Romance between me and my spouse.
Most of these ideas could work for fiancés, boyfriends/girlfriends, or even friends. They aren't just limited to spouses. Like with friends, being intentional is the romantic part. I think the longer we've been living with someone, the easier it is to get in a groove and forget to be intentional. These ideas are specifically meant to get you and your other half out of the rut and trying something different and fun, together.
Bake & decorate cut-out cookies with the radio on, make fun of the commercials
Wander around a store & point out things you'd buy for each other with unlimited funds
Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry together
Go laser tagging or paintballing, be on different teams if you're up for friendly competition
Tackle dull household chores with a stopwatch & silly sports announcer voices
Pop a giant bowl of popcorn & look up comedy shows on Youtube or Netflix
Set up an agility course in your backyard or living room
A nerf-gun war, even better during a power outage or with the lights off
Paint on something other than canvas, like a pumpkin, a thrifted picture frame, or each other
Build a blanket fort, complete with all the pillows you can find & your favorite dessert
Sit outside at night & stargaze with a thermos of something hot
Reminisce on when you first met, play some music that you listened to a lot then
Sign up for instrument/art/dancing/cooking lessons together
Turn a couple boxes into a giant dice & play a board game, rolling the dice on the floor (you can each decorate a die)
Sometimes it's hard to break out of the routine if you've been doing things exactly a certain way for a long time. By trying new things together, you may discover a shared interest that you never knew you had, or learn something new about the other person that makes you love them even more.
Romance between me and God.
We can get in a rut in our relationship with God just like we can with our friends, significant others, and ourselves. Sometimes even more so because God's invisible nature makes it easy for us to set Him on the backburner and simmer on low. Here are some ideas to stir the pot a bit and refresh your connection with your Lord and Savior.
Go on a nature walk in a nearby park or the countryside
Switch your radio to Christian music, I recommend WBCL & you can listen online
Turn mundane tasks like washing dishes, vacuuming, or dusting into time to pray
Go out to a cafe and buy a stranger lunch, ask God to show you who to treat
Join a Bible study at your church or start your own on a book/topic that interests you
Buy a present from the gift catalogue at Compassion International
Get a journal and write out 5 verses a day from your favorite book of the Bible
Learn an old hymn that you never knew the words to
Research some bizarre animals or plants, be amazed at God's creativity
Create a list of blessings in your life & thank God for them
Bake cookies for your widowed neighbor & sit with her awhile
Offer to babysit for the single mom/dad so they can have a quiet night
Pray during your exercise routine
Write a letter, ask God all the questions you have & tell Him about your day (can be repeated weekly or monthly)
A lot of these ideas are doing things for other people, and that may be confusing. Doing kind things for others in obedience to God's command to love others (Matthew 22:36-40) is actually a great way to show Him that we love Him!
Another way is to set aside time to share our own thoughts and feelings with Him. That's what prayer is. God isn't afraid of our emotions, so we shouldn't be afraid to tell Him about them. He wants to hear from you no matter whether you're angry, sad, scared, or full of joy. You don't have to pretend with God, He cannot be broken by your feelings. He'll love you back no matter what.
Being intentional is really hard sometimes, but so worth it.
You're probably tired of hearing me say it, but intentionality is really what romance is all about. It's taking time to focus your attention on another, or yourself, with no other objective than getting to know them better. It's using what you've learned to make them feel special, heard, and loved.
Hopefully these lists have given you ideas for how you might romance yourself and those around you, not just this Valentine's Day, but this year.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on these ideas and any "dates" that you've tried that might be added to them! You can send me a direct message via the Contact Form on the About page of my blog, or message me on Instagram @LindseyKorthal.