My earliest Valentine’s Day memories live in the blissful wonderland of elementary school. I remember a particular shoebox that I decorated in the first or second grade—the ones that we made to hold our stash of mushy, anxious scribbles. My box was crimson red with massive pink and white hearts. Not very masculine…but that wasn’t the point: I was eight and enamored. I wanted my valentine box to be an unfettered expression of puppy love.


Even though most of those little notes were plain, there were always those special valentines. They only had your signature on them, perhaps a word or two if you could muster the courage. Deep down, however, if only in our imaginations, these “special” cards were encoded with a hidden tenderness, a nascent “check yes or no” that we’d learn about in the wiser years of fifth grade.


Of course, back then, we weren’t a swarming hive of social media bees, buzzing from app to app in search of connection. In was an age of innocence, a time of #2 pencils, Crayolas and Elmer’s glue. In other words,

it was magical!


I hope some of that magic still lives on in you. Just because we’ve “come so far” doesn’t mean we can’t go back and capture some of that old pixy-dust and sprinkle it freely—igniting romance, inspiring affection and empowering relational growth.


Perhaps, like me, you need suggestions to keep the magic in your mojo…especially since your modern valentine’s box is now made by Apple and sits on the distant corner of cyberspace, instead of that elementary school desk.


Some Don’ts

  • We’ve become wired to wield our phones like wild west outlaws, drawing them into action with lightning speed. You’ve appropriately made reservations at a restaurant where the lights are dim and the drinks are sophisticated; don’t ruin the romance by checking your Facebook timeline or Tweeting the latest sports gossip. Embrace the evening. Gaze into his or her eyes. Tell the stories of old beginnings and new horizons. Go slow. Listen. Smile. Learn. Converse. You won’t regret it.


  • Don’t rely on technology to bail you out of poor planning and forgetfulness. Have a pulse. Have a purpose. Have a plan. Use technology wisely, not weaselly.


Some Dos

  • Do use a growing list of apps to help plan your special evening. These apps can help you reserve a table, order flowers or find a romantic movie. Inc. Magazine recommends these: Helpful Romantic, Fingle, Red Stamp, Crowded Room and Open Table. Mashable agrees and adds a few more to their “best” list: Love Poems, Flixster and Gravy.


  • Do post mushy Facebook professions of love, enduring commitment and utter relational ecstasy. Sure, it can be a tad hyperbolic, but it should also be visionary and real. You don’t have to be Shakespeare; just be sincere.


  • Do rekindle the magic. Like that pesky iPhone battery, all relationships need an ongoing jolt of juice. Mashable recommends the 30 Day Relationship Challenge. It’s free. They note: “This app challenges couples to do something sweet for each other for 30 days in a row. Its goal is to make relationships stronger, and can be used after Valentine’s Day as a jumping off point for daily romantic activities.”


  • Ultimately, during this month of fairy-tale love, be realistic: turn off the tech and turn on the charm. Get back to the basics of glitter, glue and grins, back to the dreamy visions of childhood, back to a time when a simple glimpse could set your mind racing as to what it would be like to hold a hand, share an embrace and land a peck on the cheek. May love be yours in abundance this year, and may the magic of your childhood come alive in its ever maturing, ever growing experience of what it means to truly love beyond the limits of paper, pen and pixels.


Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the executive director at STARRY in Round Rock.

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