The Real Deal on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day can be full of romantic and lovely opportunities to show your admiration and adoration for someone else. At the same time, it can also be a stressful day fraught with confusion and fear about finding the perfect gift that meets expectations and sends the right message. We checked in with some local therapists who specialize in relationships to figure out how ensure the day is special and ease some of that V-Day stress.

What Men Really Want on Valentine’s Day:

“Men want to feel wanted, admired and respected,” says Westminster-based couples therapist Alexandra Rickeman.

Come on to him, or in some way show your physical interest in him. Many men report that they want their significant other to make the first move,” Rickeman says. “This can be done in whatever way feels authentic to you (a suggestive text, lingerie, or approaching him to initiate sex). The most important factor is to demonstrate that you want or desire him.”

Get him something related to an interest or hobby of his (even if you don’t share that interest). This will show that you respect that he has unique interests and that you are willing to support those. It also has the element of being practical and useful, because these are the sorts of things he might get for himself anyway,” Rickeman says.

Be positive and appreciative. Many men report that they simply want their significant other to be happy and in a good mood,” Rickeman says. “Many also feel worried about whether or not they will be successful in their Valentine’s Day plans or gifts. If he makes an effort to demonstrate his love for you this Valentine’s Day, show him with your words and actions that it made you feel loved (as in: be complimentary and affectionate.)”

Men are actually emotional beings, too. Men pretty much require the same emotional giving as women, though men don’t often announce it,” Westminster-based therapists Lori and Bob Hollander say. “They may not, consciously, be in touch with their emotional needs, but they have all the same emotional needs that women have. Provide him with the same emotional gifts that matter to you, though he may not display or verbalize his vulnerability.”

What Women Really Want on Valentine’s Day:

“Women want to feel loved, noticed and known,” Rickeman says.

If she has mentioned anything (anything!) that she wants to do/go/have, make it happen. The most welcome gifts for women are things they have mentioned once or twice — and that were remembered,” Rickeman says. “This could be concert tickets, a product from an infomercial you watched together, or reservations at a restaurant that she read a good review about a few weeks ago. What matters is that she expressed a want — and you heard it, remembered it, and made it happen.”

Plan something. Many women are the schedule-keepers in their family. They plan the social events, dates, vacations, etc. Give her the gift of planning something for her,” Rickeman says. “Depending on your budget, this could be as fancy as booking the hotel and flights for a getaway to the beach, or as sweet as booking the baby sitter and taking her on a hike with hot cocoa (you get the babysitter, you pick the destination, you put the destination in your GPS, you have the hot cocoa in the Yetis — that’s the planning part, which is the part that matters).”

Write your own message in the card, or write your own card. Even if you search the card aisle for a half-hour trying to find the best one, write your own message inside the card,” Rickeman says. “Make it at least three sentences: 1) What personality characteristics you like about her; 2) What you like about your relationship or how you feel when you are around her; and 3) What you will never forget about your past or what are looking forward to in your future together,” Rickeman says.

Quality is key. “It’s not so much ‘what you give’ on Valentine’s Day, it is the quality and depth of the relationship you continue to build ‘as you give’,” Lori Hollander says.

You can’t do a year’s worth of work in a day. First and foremost, the Hollanders suggest that partners make the effort on a daily basis to meet each other’s emotional needs, even though there are times of disagreement and conflict. She needs to feel loved, feel safe, feel seen and heard and feel sexually desired, among other things.

The gift is just a symbol. “Remember that gifts are but the ‘symbols and signs’ of love, which only truly come to life within an ambiance and atmosphere of love and caring, even amongst the difficult times you may be having — especially during the difficult times. Then, and only then, you can get her “stuff,” like a day at the spa, dinner, shopping spree at her favorite store, flowers, etc,” says Lori Hollander.

Learn more about therapist Alexandra Rickeman at and about therapists Bob and Lori Hollander at