My Funny 'Unofficial' Valentine

The staple part of any young adult relationship is exactly the non-relationship part. The part where you are almost exclusive, but could never use 'boyfriend'-'girlfriend' terms; leaving items at their house, but still awkwardly texting them after to pretend you forgot to take them home. Amongst the exciting uncertainty, February has appeared and seems to be demanding a reassessment. How does the unofficial couple do Valentines Day? Bryony Armstrong offers Label's romantic advice. 

Valentines Day for most couples is a standard affair. There may be chocolate, there may be flowers, there will probably be some kind of dinner for two. But what if you’re that couple who is not yet really a couple at all? The couple I am referring to are the two people who exclusively go home together after nights out, have had a dinner or two at each other’s flats, and are almost kissing in public without embarrassment. However, what this couple is not yet doing is referring to themselves as a couple. Yet, among the overthought waltz between whether you can leave a toothbrush at theirs or use the ‘relationship’ word, February has thrown in a curveball. How do you celebrate the most forcibly romantic day of the year with someone you’re too uncomfortable to refer to as your partner yet? 

Several studies have shown that a general rule of thumb for Valentines Day is this: if you did not celebrate Christmas with gifts together, you are off the hook. However, this seems to have several gaping holes in the plan. Firstly, what if one of you sticks to this while the other doesn’t? Turning up with a completely unrequited heart balloon will, without a doubt, be more awkward than the first time you saw each other in daylight, and went out for your first public coffee. Secondly, what if you started seeing each other around the November period without celebrating Christmas? Presents at that point would have been far too presumptuous. But this is February. February is a different ball game. 

So, Facebook unofficial couples, how do you play this Valentines Day? The first immutable rule Label can give you is not to give a card. There is nothing romantic at this point that you could possibly say that would have any substance. The Valentines card of an early relationship could only consist of a horrible ‘You Make Me Smile’-esque card front, with a short message on the inside drafted several times until the perfect vibe of interested but not-too-keen was constructed. Instead, try a small but personal gift with a budget of £5. 

For example, find out what their absolute favourite snack is, and get them an essay writing weekend’s supply of that. A small gesture like this completely eliminates any cringeworthy attempts to force romance where love just doesn’t exist yet. It also shows them that you have been paying attention to the small details in your conversations. By not spending much but demonstrating a genuine interest in them, you will avoid any clearly forced displays of affection in the name of St Valentine, while still making them feel a little special. Also, if the gift is unrequited, it matters far less with this kind of budget.

In the absence of a card, the other piece of advice we can offer to you is not to go on a date. Controversial? Perhaps, but consider this: almost every couple on the planet is on a date today, whether they think it’s a little silly or not. Romance is being generated by every money-making machine on said planet. Your early relationship doesn’t need to be mixed up in the rose-tinted bubble of grinning waiters, shared popcorn, and handheld strolls home. However, that doesn’t mean you need to avoid the whole sentiment!

A fantastic alternative is to do something the day before or after. This way, there is no expectation; neither of you will feel the need to spend the entire time gushing about your feelings, and the date doesn’t have to be full of champagne and surprises. Choose something simple, such as a walk in the park, a visit to a botanical garden, or a drive along the coast. Take this time to really get to know each other, without feeling like you have missed out entirely on the Valentines buzz. Moving your date outside of the traditional Valentines setting will allow you to relax and continue to build on your relationship free from any romantic pressure.

So good luck with your romantic endeavours, non-coupled couples! Whatever you choose to do, please promise Label one thing: Absolutely no fluffy teddy bears with googly eyes holding love inscribed hearts. Thank you.