10 Be original
Nobody knows your loved one quite like you do. How cold they like the A/C, which one of millions of combinations of Subway sandwich is their favourite and the song they’d have on repeat if stuck in a lift. It’s what makes the two of you, the two of you. So why do what every other couple in the city are doing on Valentine’s Day? Do something original. Hire a kayak, write their name or tell them you love them in pizza toppings, clean the bathroom. Whatever it is, make it a grand gesture tailored to making them smile. Because that smile is something you can’t buy.
9 Avoid risk
Having said that, we won’t be responsible for the consequences of you choosing to scrub your beloved’s toilet instead of showering them with chocolates and flowers, and taking them to the kind of swanky restaurant that doesn’t translate the meanings of French ingredients.
8 Speak from the heart
We love you. That was easy for us to say, but you’d be forgiven for thinking our sentiment lacks a personal touch. Find a new way to say it. “I’d give you the last tempura at brunch”, or “I love traffic jams when we’re stuck together” are sample lines you’re free to steal.
7 Steal from the greats
Crafting a personal, heartfelt message, no matter how much in love you are, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your intimate knowledge of that special someone means you know all the songs they love, the films they’ve seen, the books they’ve read and the romantics who have touched and inspired them in the past. Pick one of literally thousands of the others and steal from them. Greeting card slushiness, the poems of Keats, movie moments… There’s no shortage of inspiration you can take credit for if you’re careful.
6 Accept limitations
Remember, though, that life is not like the movies. Try too hard for the perfect situation and you’re aiming for an impossible target. You’ll never have the brooding intensity of Bogart or Bergman in Casablanca. You won’t always have Paris, Enrique Iglesias lyrics sound absurd in your voice and there’s no way anybody will ever look at you the way Jay Z looks at Beyoncé. But if you’ve found somebody who’s willing to share their Netflix password with you then you’re doing okay.
5 Come out of your comfort zone
You’ve worked up the courage to tell somebody you love them. It wasn’t easy. Even after 40 years of marriage it can still be hard. Now you’re out of your comfort zone you need to keep up the momentum and experience inhibition. That’s right, you need to perform karaoke duets. Even if you’re more Barry White at brunch than Barry White at the microphone, the effort will be much appreciated.
4 Skip social media
Tell them you love them. Twitter doesn’t need to be involved in any part of this.
3 Be certain
Call us cynical, horrible people if you wish, but we challenge you not to search YouTube for “proposal fails” and not allow yourself a sly chuckle. Oh, it’s just us? Well, if you are going to go down on one knee, be certain they’re going to say “yes” before you start an elaborate on-camera proposal.
2 Well wishes matter
Just as birthday cards from your bank and local takeaway count, a Valentine’s Day wish from your grandmother or child still counts. Be happy that somebody took the time to wish you well and don’t obsess over the cards you don’t get.
1 Avoid all contact with humans
Of course, Valentine’s Day is just one of 365 in the year, and if you want to spend it with an extra large pizza and an entire back catalogue of violent war movies, that’s fine by us. Because we still love you.
Will Milner is a contributing editor. Under no circumstances should you follow his romantic advice.