Technology can play a role in a relationship on Valentine’s Day—and all year long—but don’t let it be a replacement for quality personal time with your loved one, advises a Baylor College of Medicine psychiatrist.
"Technology can be used positively but it’s not a replacement for face-to-face interaction and should be used when logistically it’s not possible to be together," said Dr. Asim Shah, associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at BCM.
Many people will send a sweet text or an e-card on Valentine’s Day but don’t let that be the only way you show your love, Shah said.
Connect via romantic dinner
"You should make the day special for the person who is the most important person in your life. Usually that’s your spouse or significant other but it doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship. It could be your child or even a parent who is most important to you," Shah said.
For couples, a romantic candle-lit dinner is a good way to connect. Even couples on a budget can plan a special night.
"Having a romantic date doesn’t mean you have to go to the most expensive restaurant," he said. "You can cook and have candles at home and spend time talking and holding hands. None of that costs very much money."
Special treat for those you love
There are other ways to make the day special for your loved one, Shah said. For example, give the person who does most of the cooking or cleaning a break by doing those tasks for them. This gesture goes a long way in a relationship because it shows you are making an extra effort to make your loved one happy.
Whatever way you decide to make the day special, disconnect from your smart phone or tablet computer. Being distracted by those devices sends the signal that other things are more important to you, Shah said.
When to use technology
There are times to turn to technology, however.
"When a person is in the armed forces, for example, or for a couple in a long-distance relationship, that’s when technology can be a positive thing," Shah said. "They can use Skype or use online sites to order flowers. Technology is an advantage in those situations because it allows you to stay connected."
Whether your loved one is near or far, Shah cautions people to celebrate their love all year long, not just on one day.
"Think of every day as Valentine’s Day to make your relationship better," he said.