Last Minute Valentine’s Day Ideas For Everyone

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, so I thought in this post I’d provide some timely encouragement and inspiration to make the most of this yearly event celebrating love.

LOOKING FOR LOVE?

For those looking for love, you might like to start with our post Step 3. (Where To) Start Looking For Love, and if online dating is something you’ve thought about trying, check out our online dating-themed posts on The Best Dating Websites & Apps To Look For Love, Creating A Successful Online Dating Profile, and Tips & Advice To Stay Safe Online. Make Valentine’s Day your catalyst for finding and keeping love this year.

GOING ON A DATE?

If you’re going on a date with someone, particularly for the first time, don’t leave home without having read our First Date Dos And Don’ts!

And make sure you give yourself the best chance possible of attracting your ideal mate by reading 10 Ways To Make Yourself More Attractive To The Opposite Sex – Part 1 and Part 2.

WANT A DATE IDEA?

If you don’t know where to go or what to do on your date, and want some ideas that won’t break the bank, our posts on 10 Cheap Date Ideas That Won’t Make You A Cheapskate – Part 1 and Part 2 should put you on the right track.

If you’d just like to have a romantic evening indoors with your loved one instead, perhaps try our series of movie posts on movies perfect for couples: 10 Man-Friendly Romantic Comedies That Women Love, 10 Feel-Good And Tear-Jerker Movies That Change Your Perspective, 10 Classic Love Stories & Romantic Movies and 10 Girl-Friendly Action Movies That Men Love. There’s something for everyone in these collections of fantastic movies.

WANT TO SURPRISE YOUR PARTNER?

If you are in a relationship and want to make your Valentine feel special, 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner will give you several handy suggestions to show them that you love and appreciate them.

And if you really want to surprise them and take your relationship to the ultimate level, our post on Epic Marriage Proposal Wins should inspire you to make it uniquely special.

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day to celebrate love?

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New Year Resolutions To Improve Your Love Life

Many of us make resolutions at the beginning of the New Year, but how many of us actually end up turning them in action, let alone achieve them? Now that we’ve had some time to get over New Year’s Eve festivities, reflecting on 2013, what were your best and worst moments of the past year? If you made resolutions last year, did you come close to achieving any of them? I managed to achieve 5.5 out of 7 of my resolutions, but I didn’t read nearly enough books as I’d hoped, and I lost some excess weight, but not nearly as much as I’d set as a goal. Starting and maintaining this blog was one of my resolutions last year and I’m looking forward to continuing and expanding it this year. It now has its own web address, too: findkeeplove.com.

Thinking about what we might like to achieve in 2014, let’s look at the resolutions you might have made. Many resolutions are made without serious intent and are too vague to actually achieve: “lose weight,” “find love,” “be happier,” and so on. Making resolutions for the right reasons and that are achievable give you a goal to aim at throughout the year, something to look forward to, a personal challenge, and/or a new start. We feel better about ourselves when we set personal goals, no matter how small, and then end up accomplishing them.

So how can we set realistic New Year resolutions and set out to achieve them? First, don’t think of a resolution as something silly you make up on New Year’s Eve, but as you would any other goal or challenge you might make on any other day of the year. If you have trouble taking a “New Year resolution” seriously, call it something else, like “Goals for 2014.” Then follow these simple steps:

1. Pick the right resolution(s)

Think about what you really want to achieve this year and how you will benefit from it.

2. Set an achievable goal

Unrealistic goals are doomed to fail and a goal is more achievable if you can quantify it in terms of numbers.

3. Set a time line for the goal

and if possible, break the goal up into steps. This helps you review your progress against tangible performance metrics. A resolution made without thinking of the steps necessary to achieve that resolution will most likely fail. If you want to lose weight, for example, try “exercise for 30 minutes a day,” “replace crisps/chocolate with a piece of fruit,” and so on, in order to lose weight (e.g., lose x kilograms).

4. Review your progress towards the goal

This helps you stay on track… and remember to try as hard as possible not to move the goalposts, but also remain somewhat flexible – at the end of the day, you are only letting yourself down, but you are the main influencer of your own happiness! At the end of January, review the progress towards your goals and see how you’re going.

5. Achieve your challenge

… or part of it. Even if you don’t complete 100% of the original goal, you may have learnt a thing or two along the way. And there’s always a chance to make new resolutions in a year’s time.

Making New Year Resolutions To Improve Your Love Life – For Singles

For singles looking to find love, perhaps you can set yourself the goal of one activity a month that allows you to meet someone new. This might be joining new club, group or organisation related to something that interests you or something you’ve wanted to try. One place you can start looking is Meetup. It’s always good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself from time to time. You can use these activities as an opportunity of assessing others’ suitability as a partner (subtly, of course).

If you’re serious about finding love this year, you’ll want to have a look at Find Keep Love’s three step program to finding love:

If you want to try online dating, sign up to a dating website or two and start creating a profile. You’ll might also like to check out our series of posts on online dating:

Making New Year Resolutions To Improve Your Love Life – For Couples

For couples, you can set goals individually or together. As an individual goal, for example, resolve to do a random nice thing for your partner once a month (or once a week if you’re feeling overly ambitious) or to take your partner out for a proper romantic date once a month. Find Keep Love’s post on 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner addresses this topic and will point you in the right direction. You could also aim to pay your loved one a compliment a day for the entirety of 2014. 365 compliments will gain you some serious love points, and you’ll form good habits to strengthen your relationship.

You can also set goals together – to learn something new by taking a course together (a new language or a cooking course perhaps) or to go on a romantic getaway once or twice this year. Resolve to spend more quality time together, particularly if work or family life gets in the way. Our posts on Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates, Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts and The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last discuss some of the common issues with modern relationships and some ways to overcome them. You may also find some inspiration from our two-part post on the 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love and on the 7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – you’ll want to aim to do more of the former and less of the latter.

What are your New Year resolutions? What steps will you take to achieve them?

6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 2

In the previous post 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 1, we examined the first three of six secrets to keeping long term love and what the characteristics are of successful long term relationships. In this post, we examine the second three of six secrets, and summarise what you can do to ensure that you keep love for the long haul.

4. Show affection & intimacy

It is important to show your love in the form of affection and intimacy. As life goes by, and we become more comfortable in our relationship, we often forget to not only show our gratitude, but to express our feelings and attraction physically. The ‘good feeling’ chemicals in the brain (we’ll address the science behind love in another post) that made us so excited at the beginning of the relationship start to wear off with time and I’m sure there aren’t many longer term relationships that are as physically involved (read sexual) as they were in the first few months. The good thing is that if you’re a couple in this position, you’re not alone! The bad thing is that affection and intimacy requires a little more effort and motivation than before. Dating someone once or twice a week or month is very different to seeing each other every day and seeing their ‘ugly’ side (the morning breath and other bad smells, the bed hair, no make-up, and so on). But it doesn’t have to be too hard – be spontaneous, grab your partner and kiss them occasionally, be playful, have fun doing silly things together, hold hands, hop in the shower or bath together – but maintain some form of physical contact that keeps your love alive.

5. Maintain individuality (“us” time vs. “me” time)

It is essential to maintain a bond of togetherness with your partner with mutual interests. Going on dates together is important (and scheduling them if you’re busy people) and ensuring adequate “us” time, to learn and grow together. But giving your partner freedom to explore their own life is also critically important, by letting your partner have their own friends, their own hobbies and interests, their own “me” time. A relationship is a partnership in love and a journey through life together, but one should never lose their own individuality. The longer you spend with someone in a relationship, the more your lives become intertwined, which can leave you feeling dependent on your partner and depended on, upsetting your emotional balance and making you feel trapped and restricted. Think of the relationship as two individuals joined together by love on a journey towards a common goal (or goals). As Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said “Love is not looking at each other, but looking together in the same direction.” You should both be able to do your own thing with or without others, without the other being jealous or thinking that they don’t love or enjoy spending time with them.

6. Trust your partner & be trustworthy yourself

All successful relationships are based on a healthy level of trust for without trust a relationship will not survive. Trust is a two-way street: you must have the correct combination of one partner being trustworthy and the other being trusting. A relationship just won’t last if one is trustworthy and the other untrusting, or one is trusting and the other untrustworthy. Trust is one of the most precious commodities in a relationship and is far easier to lose than to gain. It is earned over time and is built on integrity and confidence in another. Think about you and your personal relationships – do you think you are considered a trustworthy person? Do you have trouble trusting others? If you’re having trouble with trust in your relationship, you’ll want to read our post on 10 Ways To Become Trustworthy and More Trusting.

Practising these six things – along with the suggestions in Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates and Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts – will ensure you and you partner are well on your way to a happy and successful long term relationship. In summary:

1. Show your gratitude
2. Encourage your partner
3. Tolerate their flaws & habits
4. Show affection & intimacy
5. Maintain individuality
6. Trust your partner & be trustworthy yourself

What do you think are the secrets to successful long term love?

6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 1

As discussed in the post Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts, all relationships should be maintained to keep them fresh and mutually beneficial. Modern times are busier and more unpredictable than ever and sometimes relationships can suffer as life flies by (see Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates). In the next two posts, we’ll examine six secrets to keeping long term love and what the characteristics are of successful long term relationships. Are you doing the right things in your relationship?

1. Show your gratitude

Be gracious for the things your partner does for you and never take anything for granted. Appreciate even the small things. As a thought experiment, imagine waking up tomorrow and not having your partner there. How would you feel? Think about the things your partner does for you or provides for you and your relationship. What would you miss? If you appreciate them, a few words of thanks go a long way. Tell them – or better still, show them – how you feel. For tips on how to do this, have a look at 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner. This is also a good opportunity to thank other loved ones in your life: your friends and family. Too many people leave it until the last minute – or until it’s too late – to tell the special people in their life that they are appreciated, and regrets like these can last a lifetime. It can be awkward at first – many of us are not confident or comfortable expressing our feelings – but start with something simple (thanks for a meal, for example) and work your way up to feelings of more substance.

2. Encourage your partner

Encourage your partner’s pursuits, hobbies or interests: the things that make your partner happy. As long as their interest does not harm others (or themselves), and keeps them happy/amused/sane, then you should proactively support their pursuit of happiness. Make them feel supported, and help them maintain their own individuality (see Maintain individuality in Part 2). We should all encourage each other to pursue happiness in our own unique way, express ourselves, and enjoy the journey of life, which can be harsh and challenging. Feeling supported and encouraged makes us feel safe, loved and important – no matter what life throws at us.

3. Tolerate their flaws & habits

You must be able to tolerate character flaws and bad habits – everyone has them, this is part of human nature (again, as long as these aren’t harming them or others). I had an ex-cricket team-mate who couldn’t be around his wife when she made a cup of tea or coffee because the rattle the spoon made when stirring her tea irritated him so much. This is something I’d suggest to tolerate. Guys, for example (in general), have a lower standard for cleanliness and organisation than girls do. We must tolerate and understand that these small differences exist. I, personally, have learnt to leave the toilet seat down. The benefits of doing so outweigh the effort required to put the seat back down after I’m done. With tolerating behaviour, remember the saying “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff“. Think about the things you and your partner might argue about – are they really that important? For the bigger issues – these can be financial, job- or career-related, or to do with another interpersonal relationship – it is important that you communicate with your partner about the issue. The smaller issues – dirty clothes on the floor, leaving things in what you deem to be their ‘incorrect’ location – can be sorted out with some compromise from both sides. For the perpetrator, can you make a slight modification in the habits or behaviour that annoys your partner without too much effort? For the annoyed party, can you see past and accept your partner’s ‘misbehaviour’?

Be sure to read the second part of this post, 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 2, which examines the second three of six secrets, and summarises what you can do to ensure that you keep love for the long haul.

What do you think are the secrets to successful long term love?

Part 2: Keep Love. 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner

Throughout the ages, men and women alike have pondered what love is. It has been written about, spoken of, debated on, and argued by millions for thousands of years. If you were following Find Keep Love’s Twitter feed (@FindKeepLove) or Facebook page in January, I posted an A to Z of Love Quotes, covering musings on love by some of the greatest and most famous minds – philosophers, scientists, musicians, doctors, and businessmen.

Oxford Dictionaries defines love as “a strong feeling of affection,” “a great interest and pleasure in something,” “a person or thing that one loves,” or as a verb to “feel deep affection or sexual love for (someone).” From our own experience, we know that love is much more complex than these simple definitions suggest – the true meaning of love transcends any words we might use to attempt its definition. Love is defined, felt and experienced differently by different people, but however you try to define it, I strongly believe that love is largely defined by our actions, like the old cliché, “Actions speak louder than words.

Love without action is not real love, and paraphrasing what Kim Casali once said, “Love is the little things you do for each other.” Something similar can be found in the Bible in 1 John 3:18: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” So your love for someone will be demonstrated in the things you do for them. These are things that you do not because you have to, but because you want to, making their comfort, happiness and/or pleasure the sole aim of your actions, and not for your own personal interest, gratification or reward.

Here are ten ideas to get you started on how to surprise your loved one with random nice things. As I mentioned in my previous post on Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts, the monetary value of the gift/action is not what is important, but the thoughtfulness, imagination and love represented by it. You can never force or buy love, despite what some people may think.

  • Buy a small treat when coming home from a trip away somewhere.
  • Leave love notes in random locations around the house: on the pillow, on your partner’s desk, in your partner’s pocket, or on a Post-it note on today’s page in their diary.
  • Cook their favourite meal or, better yet, prepare a meal together. If they cook, you clean the dishes.
  • If your bath/shower is big enough, sneak in there with them every now and then.
  • Plan a surprise date – tell them nothing of your plans, except the time, date and place to meet you. You could extend this to an overnight trip somewhere, or even something over a weekend, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious.
  • If your partner is working on some project or hobby, offer to help them out.
  • Instead of buying a card for your partner’s next birthday, Valentine’s Day or your anniversary, buy a blank card, get some coloured pens, get creative, and write your partner a special message from the heart.
  • Write your partner a love letter and slip it somewhere they’re likely to find it during the day.
  • Pamper your partner for a night – be at their service for a night. Cook them dinner, make them their favourite drink, run them a bath, give them a massage (or something more erotic), and let them fall asleep hearing how much you mean to them.
  • Make a handmade coupon book – the coupons could be for anything: a massage, a home-cooked meal, a meal out, a night away. If you feel really generous (and courageous!), you could make one or more of them blank.

Not only can you show your love for your partner with these simple things and help maintain your relationship, but you will feel better about yourself. Like giving to charity or carrying out volunteer work, people are happier themselves when they are giving to or helping others. And if you’ve taken my advice from my previous post, Modern Day Dating & Scheduling Dates, and scheduled a date night, try taking it in turns each week at organising the night – a great opportunity to surprise your partner!

What is a random nice thing that you do (or could do) for your partner (or loved one) to show them that you love them?