In case you couldn’t tell from the elaborate floral displays, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate dominating the grocery store aisles, and non-stop engagement ring ads, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Some people see this as just another Hallmark holiday; others love the opportunity to show affection and romance.
Don’t go overboard with a new relationship. I often think of an old friend who had only been dating a man for a couple of weeks when Valentine’s Day rolled around. They decided to have a nice dinner and exchanged cards that were flirty not but overly lovey-dovey. On the way home, however, her date got so caught up in the romantic mood that he professed his love. It freaked my friend out.
If you’ve just started dating someone and are still getting to know one another, it’s important to not put too much pressure on the relationship just because it’s Valentine’s Day. Speak openly about your expectations and whether or not you want to do something together on the day, even if it’s just watching a movie at home. Booking an expensive dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town can feel forced if it’s too early. Most people just want some sort of acknowledgment, whether it’s a cute card, a single rose, or a text with a sweet message.
Don’t assume everyone is celebrating. Another friend of mine was going through a bitter divorce when a well-meaning but somewhat clueless coworker asked what she’d be doing for Valentine’s Day. Oof.
There are plenty of people for whom Valentine’s Day is just another day, whether it’s because they’re single, or just not interested in the fuss. The last thing they need is pity, or judgment, or prying questions about their love live, especially in a work situation.
Likewise, those who aren’t celebrating Valentine’s needn’t mock those who are. Don’t rain on someone else’s parade simply because you’re going through a bad breakup or think red roses are cheesy. It’s not about you.
Keep your celebrations under control. Some office workers really like to go all out and decorate their work spaces with giant teddy bears, cut-out hearts, and floral bouquets. You might see a bank teller wearing a cutesy Cupid sweater, or a coworker sporting a heart headband. Some people love the frivolity; others find it unprofessional. In this case, I’d defer to your company culture. If employees are encouraged to go all out on the holidays, so be it. But if you’re the only one getting into the Valentine’s spirit, hold off on displaying your romantic spoils on your desk. A floral arrangement is fine, but balloons and stuffed animals may be frowned upon. Likewise, a chic red or pink blouse or scarf will still read as professional.
Respect boundaries. In the #metoo era, we’re more conscious than ever of crossing lines in the workplace. Be mindful of “romantic” jokes — such as handing conversation hearts with naughty messages to your coworkers — that could fall flat or be construed as flirting. Bringing heart-shaped cookies to the office is fine, but anything intimate or romantic is inappropriate. If you happen to be dating a coworker, save the big celebrations for after work.