You might be looking to make a lasting impression on someone new, or you might be trying to keep your current partner sweet. Either way, Valentine’s day is the perfect opportunity to advance your romance. But for many men, far too much time is wasted puzzling over the details. Between picking gifts, planning dinner and plotting date activities there’s already a lot for men to juggle, and that’s without taking into consideration the nuisance of asking them out in the first place. But what do women actually want? If only there were some way we could ask them…
As always, here on Mankind we’re all about taking the hard work and doing it for you. And if that involves peering into the Pandora’s box that is the psyche of the fairer sex, then so be it. We rounded up a group of female volunteers and asked for their input on how to do Valentine’s Day.
Fully aware that this was being committed to print, this is what they had to say.
Katie, Trading Assistant
DO NOT TEXT! Always do it face to face, ask them for dinner or a drink. Make sure it’s somewhere special.
Rosie and Lily, Account Managers
R: Confidence is key! I think it’s great when someone plucks up the courage to just ask me on a date. It HAS to be face to face though. Having the confidence to ask in person is a really attractive trait in my opinion.
L: I mean, I wouldn’t really mind just a text if it was somebody I already knew. I think as long as they’re confident on the date, an invitation via text or email is fine.
“He can’t be too nice…”
Bex, Trading Manager
Slide into their DMs.
Morgane, Country Manager
Keep it cool and play innocent… “I’m free, you’re free, there’s no point being alone on Valentine’s. Let’s at least go for a drink…”
Shannon, Content Machine
Be confident, clear and to the point. Show initiative that you’ve made a plan and avoid the whole ‘I don’t know, you decide..’ situation. Do all of the planning and thinking so your date can simply enjoy themselves
Laura, Marketing Exec
The right moment is key! Not in front of others – try to get her into a conversation on her own first, and after a while ask her if she has some plans for the weekend. I would not choose Valentine’s day as the first date though – (maybe 3rd or 4th). Nowadays I wouldn’t mind to be asked out over a message but only if we were in touch already before and we’ve built up a level of real conversation. A random message from someone you’ve never spoken to before is creepy.
Tilly, Marketing Manager
If you’re thinking of choosing Valentine’s for a first date – DON’T! Waaaay too much pressure! If you’re already seeing each other, then maybe. I’d personally just like to be asked if I want to do something, and nothing too serious.
Carla, International Trading Manager
I’ve never been asked out on a date. My hubby always takes me without asking.*
*Kidnapping is a criminal offence, and not recommended by the Mankind blog.
On The Date itself
The date should be a Valentine’s present, but not on Valentine’s day itself – that would be far too cliché. A weekend away or something other than a meal is good, because frankly I expect to go out for meals all the time, so that wouldn’t be particularly special. I’m happy to pay my share of the bill and don’t expect to be waited on hand and foot (#independentwoman). Treat’em mean, keep’em keen are words to live by in my books. So he can’t be too nice – don’t hate the playa, hate the game.
I would expect a dress to be bought and left out with a note that tells me the time to be ready. Having my hair and makeup already booked in would be appreciated too. I would like to think the person taking me out would know me well enough to know what food I like (steak) so they would have picked somewhere perfect without me having to say. I want compliments all night, no staring at me when I’m eating, and there has to be a conversation going on at ALL times.
I would expect him to pay the bill – telling me to put my card away when I take it out.
Remember that places will be FULL of couples on Valentine’s day itself, and everyone will know what everyone else is there for. Pick a place which is comfortable for both parties. Whoever asks the other out should be expected to pay the bill. It’s good for a guy to make the extra effort and dress up a little – as a lady, I would definitely do the same. I’m not averse to a relaxed night at home with pizza, ice cream etc either. Put a nice spin on it by making your own, heart-shaped pizza (cheesy, I know, but from experience it works).
Betta, Country Executive
It’s all about good food and good wine. Something less crowded like a wine bar or small pub – relaxed, cosy and rustic. Avoid big restaurants as they will probably be full of a lot of couples doing the same thing. When it comes to heart shaped balloons etc – avoid avoid avoid. Taking someone to a place you know they love, but haven’t been to in a while is a great idea. As is taking them somewhere they’ve wanted to go to for a while, but not managed to. As a girl, I would always offer to split the bill.
I would go for a cool bar over a fancy, overdressed restaurant. Somewhere more open, with music and laughter, and not somewhere that feels ‘coupley’. Somewhere like a wine bar for French cheese and bread, or Italian antipasti. A cocktail bar with live music always works. The dress code should be casual chic. Paying the whole bill is a must unless the lady proposes to pay or split. In this day and age, most women will contribute, but showing the intention to be gentlemanly looks good. Generally speaking, don’t ask for a second date straight away. Wait a few days and you’ll be more desired.
Rosie and Lily
L: I would say that I’m quite traditional when it comes to dates. Good food and wine are essential. Ideally, pan-asian food: something off the robata grill, and a wave of sushi. I’m not too fussed about activities. A nice cocktail and some sparkling conversation are all I need. Make mine an espresso martini!
R: I’m a bit easier to please. Just a few beers and some good conversation make the perfect date for me. I’m not really into dates with lots of activities, definitely more up for a chat than mini-golf! When the bill arrives I’m happy to chip in, it’s 2018 for god’s sake!
L: I still think a guy should pay the bill. It’s chivalrous and a nice gesture when you’re first going out with someone.
R: I guess it’s fine if they offer, but you should pay for date number 2. One thing I absolutely hate is when I’m on a first date and the guy spends the entire time looking at his phone. A guy should make an effort for a date and dress up a bit- it’s a sign they want things to go well.
L: Agreed! We spend a lot of time doing our hair and makeup, so don’t come under-dressed.
A. Schwartz, Country Executive
If he’s really intending to impress me, the date will be at an expensive restaurant, booked out for private use so that we are on our own. I would expect live music to have been arranged, and there would need to be Champagne – iced and awaiting my arrival. A three course meal, picked entirely by him, is a perfect opportunity to show how much attention he pays to my tastes. It’s a man’s job to make sure everything’s perfect, so if he picks incorrectly, I won’t be impressed.
On The Gift
The thought is what counts, and I don’t think a Valentine’s gift should be over the top and expensive. A bunch of flowers, a rose or some chocolates along with a card for the personal element is perfect.
If the night out is done right, I wouldn’t expect a gift. A card and a rose are nice touches, though.
Between £50-£100 isn’t too much to ask, but enough to show that you’re generous.
Good gift ideas include scented candles, a nice scarf, high quality chocolate. Tickets for a concert or a show are a good segue into a second date.
“A puppy or a miniature goat…”
(The reliably pragmatic) Tilly
Valentine’s gifts are a nightmare and impossible to predict. It should depend on what stage you’re at in your relationship. If you’re new together, go for something small like a box of chocolates or flowers. If you have been together a while, jewellery might do the trick. Don’t go overboard and do things you can’t keep up or outdo the next year. You don’t want to peak early and leave her disappointed for the rest of your relationship, do you?
The perfect gift is something I mentioned six months ago in passing. Surprising me with it shows you’re a truly thoughtful and attentive partner. A holiday is always nice too.
A diamond, a bracelet, earrings, a necklace…
If my significant other gets me a gift, he needs to spend a lot. If he doesn’t, then I will assume he doesn’t care about me, and that I’m not worth it. Flowers are acceptable, but only as an addition to the main present, and only if they’re expensive. Jewellery is a good choice, but keep in mind that every present has to be a step up from the last – otherwise what’s meant as a gift becomes an insult.
Rosie and Lily
R: I’d never really expect a Valentine’s Day gift but I do love flowers. Just a nice bunch of flowers and a nice meal out somewhere is all I’d hope for! I think small gifts are often better and honestly, it’s the thought that counts.
L: Dream present would be a puppy or a miniature goat. I love animals! But in general, I think that an expensive present is a good way to show how happy they are to be on a date with me.
It really depends on the number of dates you’ve been on. If you’ve just started, go with flowers and chocolate. It’s classic, but always works. Otherwise, I always appreciate a more personal gift. What are her hobbies? What about a picture of a moment you shared? One thing I’d definitely say is that a romantic present will always trump an expensive but impersonal gift. Be careful of your romantic gestures coming across as kitsch. From personal experience, the best thing I ever received was a weekend away.