By Melanie Mar

Valentine’s Day: the red heart holiday. It’s guaranteed to keep restaurants busy and flower stores in business. Whether you’re single, newly dating, or married, this heartfelt day can be a bit tricky to navigate. Depending on your expectations in the romance department, Valentine’s Day can be an incredible hit or a massive miss. So how do you make sure you and your partner feel special on a day dedicated to love? Read my expert dating advice below!

Expert Dating Advice to Consider Before Valentine’s Day

If you’re single: Being single on Valentine’s Day is not uncommon, so take some comfort in the fact you’re actually in good company on this hyper-focused heart holiday. As a relationship expert, I believe this is an excellent time to fall in love with yourself. If you prefer to be alone, pamper yourself with a hot bubble bath, music and some fine, quality chocolates. Or let someone else do the pampering and book a soothing massage at a relaxing spa. Take the time to treat yourself well and know that you’re worth it.

Related Link: How to Get Through Valentine’s Day Being Single

If the thought of being alone simply fills you with dread, then gather up your girlfriends and put on a fabulous dress. Head out to a sexy lounge bar, enjoy some playful flirting, and kick up your killer heels. Another fun idea is to host a “singles Valentine’s Day party” at your place. Invite all your fellow singletons over to eat, drink, and be merry.

If you’re newly dating: If you’ve just started dating someone, Valentine’s Day can be a little awkward. What if you go all out and he doesn’t acknowledge it? Yes, there are men out there who are oblivious to all the heart decorations in the shop windows or who “just don’t get it.” What if your expectations of the day are at a certain level and the reality turns out to be completely different? How will you handle that?

My recommendation: If you are at a certain level of comfort with your partner, have a lighthearted (pun intended) conversation about the day and find out what they think about it. Remember that it’s a day mostly aimed at women. Most men only do what society has informed them because a good man doesn’t want to disappoint his girl, so be gentle on him.

If talking about it prior is not an option for you, then remind yourself that, whatever happens on the day, you will embrace and accept it — even if that means you are dating one of those oblivious men and end up deeply disappointed. By the following year, you’ll be more invested in the relationship; then you can give him a polite prod about making Valentine’s Day plans!

Related Link: 5 Celebrity Couples Who Got Engaged on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day Date Ideas for Married Couples

If you’re married: Being married and celebrating Valentine’s Day should be fabulous and stress-free. You already know each other’s needs, wants, and desires and how to accommodate them. Over the years, that could be as simple as a card and a home-cooked candlelit dinner. After all, cooking together can be a very intimate and enjoyable process.

One of the things to be aware of with long-term relationships is complacency. The notion of not buying into this “commercial holiday” because you’ve been together so long is one you should ignore. My expert dating advice is to make it matter! If you’re looking for Valentine’s Day date ideas, do something out of the ordinary to celebrate each other. Surprise each other with the unexpected, whether it be lingerie or a weekend getaway –whatever is out of the norm for you as a couple. The element of surprise keeps romance alive; it reignites the flames of passion and, in turn, fills the heart with love.

Melanie Mar is a relationship expert and life coach as well as co-owner of the Millionaire’s Club International Matchmaking Agency for the U.K. and Europe. She is certified by the WANT Institute in Androgynous Semantic Realignment and a Transaction Analysis practitioner certified by the United States America Transaction Analysis Association.