Valentine’s Day means different things to different people, often depending on your situation. It might be that you’re looking for love, or maybe you have just started seeing someone. Perhaps you are in a long-term relationship already. You might even be free and single and happy to celebrate love and friendship. Whatever your status, Disability Match runs down how you can make the most of Valentine’s Day accessibly.
Celebrating love and romance on Valentine’s Day
Many of us revel in the romantic aspects of the day and want to express our feelings to someone very special. How you go about doing this depends, to an extent, on how long you have been together and how you view the world.
The question I get asked, as a dating adviser/love coach is: “ How do I make someone new in my life my Valentine?”
In days gone by (pre-internet), the hopeful lover would send a mysterious Valentine’s Day card to the object of their affections. People would then try to guess who the secret admirer was.
Those beautiful traditions are now in the past and new etiquette rules have come to our fast-moving internet world.
Nowadays, asking someone to be ‘your Valentine’ could be tricky as it might mean asking for a commitment too early, which can be embarrassing.
You may have only dated a couple of times, perhaps after meeting on a dating site and felt an early connection. You might not even be certain of whether they have any existing relationships. Here’s how to handle the potential pitfalls of this scenario…
Valentine’s Day if you’ve just met
We’d recommend testing the water with an open-ended question, such as, “Do you have any special plans for Valentine’s night?” If they reply, “I was hoping to spend it with you” then BINGO! Problem solved!
They might also say, “I am going to a Valentine’s Day party” which opens up the possibility of going with them. They might also do a teasing reply, such as, “I would love to if someone special asked me”.
Assuming a positive outcome to your proposal, you need to think of a suitable ‘getting to know you better’ way of celebrating Valentine’s Day.
1. Visit yours or their local area
Depending on your mobility, you could spend time showing each other your favourite places in your local area and explaining what makes it ‘special’ for you.
That way you can learn delightfully intimate things but in a friendly relaxed context.
2. Get out into nature
If you live near a park or nature then exploring those together would be a perfect backdrop to talking about your dreams and plans.
Of course, for some, the outdoors isn’t always accessible. But there are options – it might just take a little research. Disability Horizons’ articles on 5 accessible walks and nature reserves and 5 accessible parks and gardens are a good place to start.
If none are close by to you, try the AccessAble website. It has access guides for a whole range of public spaces and buildings, including restaurants.
3. Attend a planned Valentine’s Day outing
Venues all across the country offer more structured dates. For example, if you are in London, the Tate Modern could make a wonderful date. It’s totally accessible and has art to suit all tastes.
There is much you might find out about a new partner by exploring the sort of artworks. You could also take a stroll along the South Bank and feel the City of London envelop your budding romance with its history and magic.
These are just a couple of examples, but all major cities have interesting, accessible venues and the internet makes it quite easy to find ones near where you live.
The key is to do something that gives you plenty to talk about and help you to both get to know and understand each other better.
4. Go for a meal
Depending on mobility and budget, you could go for a nice meal. Lots of restaurants have Valentine’s specific menus for the day. Just bear in mind that romantic hot spot restaurants will be heavily booked and more expensive than usual.
Traditionalists can also add a nicely wrapped box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers to the occasion.
Valentine’s Day if you’re already a couple
The question of what to do on Valentine’s Day is less complicated if you are already an established ‘item’. It means that you are more in control of each other’s diary and can plan a bit in advance.
If you’ve been together quite a while, you might want to find something fun and different to do to mark the occasion.
Go all out
If you have the budget, it is certainly worth thinking about spending the Valentine weekend at a spa with accessible facilities.
Spa trips make very special coupledom events and are perfectly suited to Valentine Day celebrations. Companies, such as Spabreaks, have an extensive range of spa breaks available through its accessible spa division. This includes facilities for a range of disabled people, from wheelchair users to those who are visually impaired.
If a spa isn’t your kind of thing, what about a weekend away? You could head to our London where there is a lot to explore and a range of accessible hotels. This round-up of 10 accessible hotels in London should help you find the right one for you. It includes luxury and affordable accommodation.
Or you could venture further afield and visit arguably the most romantic city in the world, Paris. Its metro system is easy to navigate, even if you have a mobility restriction. It also has a raft of accessible hotels and a number of its attractions cater for people with disabilities. Read this review for more details – Paris: an accessible destination for everyone.
Create romance at home
For the budget-conscious or those with mobility issues, you can turn your home into a ‘love nest’ with scented candles and themed cooking. The internet is full of exciting recipe ideas for stay-at-home lovers.
As one cookery site puts it: “The most romantic thing you can do on Valentine’s Day is make a meal for the person you love. Cancel your reservation at that expensive, overcrowded restaurant and put on an apron.”
After the meal, you could curl up together and look at photographs that tell the story of your romance. Or as is now the case, browse through old Instagram and Facebook feeds to recall cherished moments.
You could also spend the evening selecting photos to put in a digital photo album that you can then get printed quite cheaply. How about making this a tradition for each Valentine’s Day to create a printed record of your life together.
Watching a rom-com is also becoming a staple part of a romantic evening in and can help set the mood. It is also worth checking out your local Everyman Cinema as it is very proud of the accessibility at some of its venues.
Celebrating friendship on Valentine’s Day
When I mentioned to my Scandinavian partner that I was writing an article about Valentine’s Day, she said she hoped I didn’t limit it to lovers and romance.
She has a point, in many cultures, Valentine’s Day is a day about friendship rather than ‘loved-up coupledom’.
That fact is easy to forget in the UK, where commercialism has turned the event into a cornucopia of heart-shaped present giving and romantic over-priced dinners at candlelit bistros.
It’s a pity as the spirit of friendship in mid-winter gloom should belong to all of us and be a beacon of inclusivity for everyone to light life’s challenges.
So, whether you have someone or not, how about making Valentine’s Day about celebrating friendship and sharing love with all your treasured friends.
We don’t post Valentine’s cards as much as we used to, but a text or skype call to tell someone you care helps make the world a lovelier place for all of us.
By David Miller, Disability Match
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