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Whether you're three hours or a whole continent apart, long distance is one of the toughest challenges a relationship can face. You get less face-to-face time, you can't read your S.O.'s body language, and sometimes, you even have to navigate a time difference. Thanks to constant marketing (and, of course, Instagram photos of happy couples spending time together), Valentine’s Day can become a very pressure-filled holiday for people in LDRs. When you can't opt for the traditional dinner date, you've gotta get creative with showing your love from miles away.
But distance doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. In fact, it can strengthen your relationship, according to Jessica Carbino, PhD, a sociologist specializing in online dating and relationships.
“Individuals who have been in long-distance relationships tend to have a lot of experience with each other and are secure with the commitment in their relationship—including the extra effort to make sure the relationship is maintained,” Carbino says. “One of the wonderful things about the current age we live in is technologically, individuals have the ability to talk regularly, or to have an experience together that could be virtual in nature, but that they still can share.”
Meet the experts:
Jessica Carbino, PhD, is a sociologist specializing in online dating and relationships.
Jay Shetty is a speaker and author of the upcoming 8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It, And Let It Go.
While sending flowers or planning a romantic FaceTime are always nice ideas, you can still create a unique, thoughtful Valentine's Day date or experience for your long-distance partner. In fact, it's never a bad idea to step outside your (romantic) comfort zone. “Maybe for your Valentine’s Day date this year, do something entirely new, ”says Jay Shetty, author of the upcoming 8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It, And Let It Go.
If you’re in a long distance relationship, it doesn’t mean your Valentine’s Day will be void of romance. WH put together 40 (yes, 40!) unique date, gift, and celebration ideas that will make this V-Day the best one yet—even when you’re far from your special someone.
1. Let your partner see the world through your eyes.
Using disposable cameras, take pictures of your respective surroundings, then mail your cameras back to each other. Develop your loved one’s photos on Valentine’s Day to get a sense of your partner’s daily life! After you get the snapshots back, jump on the phone and walk each other through your respective "days."
2. Send each other food delivery from a local restaurant.
Food delivery is simple with platforms like UberEats, DoorDash, or GrubHub. Investigate whether your Valentine’s favorite local spot is available for delivery, and send them a special takeout order.
3. Send handwritten letters that cannot be opened until Valentine’s Day.
Love letters will never get old, but build the excitement with a twist. Instruct your partner to save your letter for February 14 and vice versa, for all the romantic holiday feels.
4. Get creative with phone sex.
Just because your Valentine’s Day is long distance this year, doesn’t mean it can’t be sexy. Brands like WeVibe, Satisfyer, and Lovense Lush, allow partners to control each other’s toys, no matter how far apart they are (trust me, it works). Just buy a toy and have your partner download the app so they can control the pressure, speed pulses, and more during your next phone sex session.
5. Cook each other’s favorite meal and have dinner together on FaceTime or Zoom.
One of the biggest hurdles for long-distance relationships to overcome is the lack of small day-to-day joys, says Carbino. “It can be hard to maintain connection when you can’t vent about a bad day at work or something exciting that happened over dinner,” she explains. “Opportunities for intimacy-building do not occur as frequently when you're not in physical proximity to somebody. Physical proximity allows individuals to open up in ways that they otherwise wouldn't inherently, but also there are just more natural opportunities for it.”
Recreate a romantic candlelit Valentine's Day dinner by cooking over FaceTime or Zoom and sharing your favorite meal together, suggests Carbino. You can even set up your phone or computer to pretend you’re sitting across the table from one another.
6. Invest in your future, together.
One year, my boyfriend and I were more interested in planning our future together than breaking our bank accounts on a fancy dinner or trip, so we made a plan to meet at the bank and open a savings account together. This felt like a unique way to focus on and look ahead to the many Valentine’s Days we can spend together in the future—when we're closer together.
7. Make each other playlists.
A picture can tell a thousand words, but so can a song. Take the opportunity to make this Valentine’s Day special by creating a romantic playlist of all the songs you two love, as well as the music associated with some of your favorite shared memories.
8. Send an Edible Arrangement.
Yes, flowers are beautiful. But personally, nothing screams beauty to me more than receiving a bouquet of chocolate covered fruit that I can enjoy in the comfort of sweatpants on a couch.
9. Send an article of clothing sprayed with your signature fragrance.
You've likely heard it said that scent has the power to trigger the sensation of someone’s presence and memory. Well, there's a neurological reason for this: The olfactory bulb, which handles the way you process smells, is closely linked to the limbic system (aka, the structure in your brain that handles your emotions and memories). Ignite your presence in your loved one’s life by sending them something with your perfume on it, or a shirt washed with your go-to detergent.
10. Gift each other the LoveBox.
This cute trinket can house sweet notes that make the heart spin (literally). After buying the cube-shaped box for your significant other, just customize and send them short love notes via an associated app. The heart on their box will then start to spin incessantly until they open and read your message. (Psst: The Color & Photo version of this box even lets you send photos!)
11. Plan the next time you'll see each other.
One of the things that eases anxiety in my LDR is knowing when I will see my partner again. Each time we see one another, we try to confirm a date for the next time we will be together. Even if logistics and planning isn’t sexy (and who’s to say they’re not?), spending Valentine’s Day planning the next time you can see one another will provide the security every relationship needs in a foundation.
12. Attend a virtual concert or museum.
Whether it is Beyonce’s Black is King concert or Taylor Swift’s folklore: the long pond sessions on Disney+, virtual concerts and museum tours are a great way to enjoy a special experience with your partner. Escape to a foreign gallery or discover a new band, no matter where in the world you are.
13. Watch or listen to the same episode of porn together.
Spend the sexiest day of the year making time to watch the same porn as your partner. If visual porn doesn’t turn you on, audio porn is a great alternative (and in addition to #4 above) to spice up your dual masturbation session. Check out Make Love Not Porn, which offers a fun way for you and your partner to experience porn featuring real-life couples. Even more sexy, you can submit your own videos, if that’s your thing.
14. Watch a movie together through Teleparty.
You don’t have to watch the new Netflix movie you’ve been dying to see all alone. Through sites like Teleparty, streaming platforms allow you and your S.O. to watch movies or TV series simultaneously.
15. Plan a virtual game night.
Make your next FaceTime session an unforgettable date with a virtual game night. Play classics like Cards Against Humanity or Taboo with a double date or a virtual friend group. Want something more Valentine’s Day-specific? Use the romantic evening to play some intimate games like We Are Not Really Strangers (Couple’s Edition), or invest in the Intimacy Card Deck.
16. Send a care package with a cute twist.
Sending a package with all your S.O.'s favorite things is clear way to show you love and care about them, regardless of distance. But if you mail your partner a sweet Valentine’s Day care package, consider placing a small secondary box with a single Hershey Kiss. It’s a corny but a romantic way to give your loved one a Valentine’s Day kiss, so to speak.
17. Mail a jar of love notes.
One Valentine’s Day, my partner and I spent the evening writing little notes about the things we loved about each other. On pink pieces of paper, we wrote physical traits we loved; on the red slips of paper, we wrote about each other’s emotions and personalities. Make your LDR special by mailing a jar of love notes, so your partner can be reminded of your special bond every day.
18. Plan a trip halfway for a new adventure, and do Valentine’s Day on your own time.
Who says Valentine’s Day needs to be celebrated on February 14? If you can't be together on V-Day, plan another February or March trip where you and your significant other can meet halfway. Allow this new adventure to be your postponed romantic getaway. Or, for a spontaneous twist, spin a globe and let your finger fall on a random spot.
19. Create a personalized beer flight for your partner.
If you have a beer-obsessed partner, why not treat them to a customized beer "flight"? Sure, if you were together, you might be able to order one at their favorite local brewery. But instead, try choosing and mailing a crate of beers that you know your S.O. will love. Better yet, buy the same ones for yourself, and do a taste test together over FaceTime or Zoom.
20. Purchase each other a new book to pick up at a local bookstore.
Help your significant other escape in a story this holiday by preordering a book for them at their local bookstore. Surprise one another by picking a book you know your partner won't be able to put down. Afterwards, Shetty suggests discussing three new things each of you discovered and why they made such an impact on you.
“Tell each other why they resonate so much with you,” he says. “That way you’re not always just focusing the conversation on big issues, but can share some of the fun smaller things, too.” Not only will you have some fun V-Day entertainment, but this is also a great way to talk about something different and exciting with your partner.
21. Create a framed photo collage of your partner’s sweetest text messages.
Through the countless texts you probably send your loved one every day, it can be easy for the sweetest messages to get lost. Take some time to scroll through your thread and screenshot your favorite correspondences between one another. Online tools like Canva make it super easy to make a collage and order your Valentine’s Day masterpiece.
22. Sign each other up for a new activity.
This Valentine’s Day, help your partner by gifting them the push they need to try a new activity like a dance lesson, a cooking class, or even a tool that will help them learn a new language! For a total surprise, you can also send your partner the address of a prepaid event so they don’t know what they’re doing until they get there.
23. Watch a sporting event together.
If the two of you are sports fans, you can celebrate Valentine’s Day early by watching the Superbowl LVII together (well, at the same time) on February 12. Or, if football isn’t your thing, it is a good time to catch up with NCAA basketball season to research your bracket for later in the season. Sparks are guaranteed to fly when you get competitive with your partner over March Madness bets.
24. Work out together.
Foster the day-to-day things a LDR can’t provide, and take some time to rejuvenate in a virtual couple’s workout. On Zoom or FaceTime, pick from a number of free online workout classes and get your sweat on, together!
25. Buy a sexy advent calendar.
Think: A delicious chocolate-filled holiday advent calendar, but better! This sexy gift option is a 12-piece gift set filled with sex toys including vibrators, cock rings, and massage oils. (Just note that this set contains toys for people with penises and vulvas, so they might not be able to enjoy every item during solo time.)
26. Send your S.O. a body pillow.
If your partner misses cuddling, gift them something to snuggle while they snooze with a body pillow or even a cute stuffed animal. They just might feel a little less lonely sleeping away from you at night.
27. Take the love language quiz.
From the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, one’s love language reflects how an individual receives and expresses their love.
The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, giving and receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. In honor of Valentine’s Day, take the Love Language quiz to learn what you and your partner need most in a relationship. Then, maybe, you can think of some romantic ways to show each other your love.
28. Gift the long-distance friendship lamp set.
Light up your loved one’s special day with this long-distance friendship lamp. No matter how far apart, when you turn on one lamp, its partner lamp lights up in-sync. Each lamp will shine with the same colored-hue to let the other person know you are thinking about them.
29. Record an original love song or poem.
Speak to your loved one from the heart by writing a heartfelt love song or poem. Have some fun, and make a creative video that your partner can watch over and over. At a loss for words? Check out ChatGBT, an AI software that optimizes language—and, yes, can write love poems!
30. Mail some homemade baked goods.
Whether you're a seasoned baker or a newbie, Valentine's Day is the perfect time to bake a delicious treat. Then, mail your S.O. some delectable goodies—or, if you like to tease your partner as much as I do, send them pictures of the yummy food you’ve made, and then mail a box to arrive on the 14th.
31. Create a custom picture puzzle.
Pick one of your favorite romantic pictures of you and your partner. Shutterfly allows you to create custom puzzles of all different sizes. Can’t choose just one picture? You can also create a collage puzzle—aka, a sweet gift and a fun activity in one.
32. Spend the evening with a list of writing prompts to journal with one another.
Journaling can be a great way to process your thoughts, feelings, and even your desires. Spend a portion of your romantic holiday writing with your partner, and then share what you wrote. This can help the two of you become closer as you describe the things you want and value in your relationship with one another.
Sample prompt: When did you know you fell in love? Describe the place, the feeling you felt, and the words that were spoken.
33. Dress up for a date and send each other pictures.
Although you may not be able to get dressed up for an in-person date, it can be fun to recreate activities that you would normally do in-person together. Put on your cutest outfit and hop on a FaceTime, or send some hot photos.
Don’t want to waste a great look? Plan a friend group Valentine’s Day after spending some time chatting with your long-distance loved one. It’s also totally cool to head to a bar or coffee shop on your own and have a date with yourself, even if it’s V-Day!
34. Do a simultaneous gratitude meditation.
One way to be close to your partner, despite any physical distance, is by practicing the gratitude you have for them and your life together. Schedule a time that works for both of you to do a simultaneous meditation to ground your gratitude and use this holiday to deepen your romantic connection.
35. Show up in person.
If you're feeling spontaneous (and have the means), show up at their door! Hey, it won’t work for every long-distance couple, but it’s certainly a romantic idea.
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