The notion of going out into thronged crowds of over-excited people and entering high-stress environments like an overcrowded restaurant? Nope. No thanks. For many introverts, the idea of Valentine’s Day isn’t particularly comfortable. While extroverts can handle big crowds and lots of social interaction easily — and, indeed, thrive on it — introverts struggle because their “rate of arousal”, or capacity to respond to stimulation, is very sensitive. Introverts can be very easily overwhelmed by stimulation from the world. “Time alone, one-on-one conversations and predictable situations are more likely to be pleasant for introverts who are more sensitive to external stimulation,” explained Belle Beth Cooper for Fast Company. That’s not exactly the narrative we’ve been sold as ‘acceptable’ for a romantic Valentine’s Day — but it’s very easy to craft an introvert-friendly Feb. 14.
Introverts in relationships with non-introverts may need to do some explaining about why Valentine’s Day needs to be chilled out rather than all-out fancy romantic gestures. However, there are a lot of date possibilities that are highly introvert-friendly. Plus all these ideas are applicable whether you’re in a couple or going it alone on Feb. 14, because nobody should miss out on fun just because they’re currently sans partner.
1. See A Movie Marathon Without Cinema Stress
The movies on Valentine’s Day will be filled with teenagers on their first date-dates and snuggling adults making disgusting kissing noises in the dramatic pauses. No, thanks. Get Netflix or Amazon Prime for the night, or go super old-school with a DVD or even (gasp!) VCR, and put together a movie marathon with all your classic faves. Make fancy popcorn — the kind you pop in a pan — and the snacks you’d pay megabucks for at a fancy cinema: nachos, sliders, milkshakes, gourmet hot dogs, you name it. All of Harry Potter? Challenge accepted. Bonus: nobody has to change out of their PJs.
2. Host A Love Letter Writing Session
This one only needs pen and paper, though it’s also a chance to go all out on fancy stationery and calligraphy. It’s also hilariously cheesy. “Go old school, get out a pen and paper, and write your introvert a love letter — and invite [them] to do the same. You’ll likely see a side of your introvert that you’ve never seen before,” recommend the experts at Introvert Dear. If you’re flying solo, celebrate self-love and write yourself a letter about all the stuff you adore about yourself. Because you are adorable.
3. Get Crafty
Sitting in silence doing something creative: possibly heaven for an introvert in need of recharging. ‘Planned activities’ might sound very kindergarten-esque, but they’re also becoming far more popular among millennials as we reconnect with the creative side of making and doing. Classes with strangers are often a strain for introverts, though, so crafting around Valentine’s Day should be done at home or in the company of a few friends. Big stupid lacy hearts like you made in grade school? Marbling your own book paper? Making your own ridiculous board game? Go all out on something you’ll both like, and throw coolness to the wind.
Want extra instruction? Look out for private lessons or sessions that might fit you and your partner — or just you on your own. Make sure they’re chilled out and not super-packed, as that might cause hyper-arousal and make your introvert self very tired.
4. Buy Each Other A Book And Then Have A “Reading Spa”
The “reading spa” is the invention of Mr. B’s Book Emporium in Bath, UK, where instead of a relaxing massage the recipient gets guided through titles they might like by an expert book seller, then left to enjoy them in a comfy chair. The concept hasn’t caught on yet in the U.S. — though if you know a bookstore owner, you should convince them that it’s a brilliant plan — but you can do it at home. Head to a bookstore that’s open late (or go during the day when it won’t be crowded), pick out a book for one another, then curl up at home with blankets, hot chocolate (or whisky), cake and your new companions.
5. Indulge In The Retro
Break out the N64, the Gameboy, the Tamagotchi and dumb board games: if you just want to stay in on Valentine’s, with a honey or on your own (or with other introvert pals), go on a nostalgia trip. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion that activates neural pathways about memory and positive reward, and it can be seriously fun to introduce your loved one to all the stuff you adored when you were a kid — or just discover and revel in it again. Prepare to kick their ass at Goldeneye and try to beat all your old scores.
6. Go Remote
While everybody else is crowding into restaurants and doing romantic gestures in public, why not go off the grid? Valentine’s Day itself isn’t on a weekend in 2019, but it’s Friday the next day — so consider taking the weekend to go camping or glamping, check into a remote B&B with separate cabins (so you don’t have to see loads of smooching people), or wander through your closest national park on a hike. The space and silence will probably feel refreshing and romantic, whether it’s all about love for another person or feeling love for yourself. Get a picnic and spend some quality time together.
Being an introvert means understanding your threshold for stimulation and what leaves you worn out — and Valentine’s Day can challenge that threshold pretty intensely. These ideas make sure that you and your sweetheart, if there’s one around, have fun without feeling overwhelmed. It’s also acceptable to do precisely nothing for the day — and revel in a quiet meal at home.