Cupid questions?

Experts offer Valentine's Day advice for teens

Experts offer Valentine's Day advice for teens

February 08, 2005|by ANDREA ROWLAND

If you think Valentine's Day is all about fancy dinners and glitzy gifts, cupid's arrow might have hit you in the head instead of the heart.

Teen advice experts said Feb. 14 is a day to show how much you care through thoughtful actions and kind words - gifts and dates that say you care, not that you're rich or expect to be showered with expensive presents.

Costly gifts can send the wrong message, said Dr. Gilda Carle of New York, columnist for Justine magazine and author of "Teen Talk with Dr. Gilda: A Girl's Guide to Dating" (HarperCollins, 2003). Carle, whose Web site at includes pages just for teens, said pricey jewelry and other high-dollar items might suggest a desire for a big commitment or a sexual relationship.


"You don't want to feel like you're pressuring each other into anything. The moment you end up buying jewelry, somebody gets scared - and it's usually the recipient," she said. "Give gifts that aren't emotionally charged."

V-Day doesn't have to drain your wallet or raise the relationship bar. Be creative. Make a list of the qualities you like best about your honey, send a text-message poem, or - if you've got the guts - serenade your sweetheart, suggests an advice column about surviving Valentine's Day at Planned Parenthood Federation of America's on the Web.

"If you make something, it shows that you have put in a whole lot of time and effort for this project. It's a really caring kind of thing," Carle said. "All the other person wants to know is that you have invested some time and effort. You are looking to surprise that person."

Open your heart, not your wallet

Longtime Girls' Life advice columnist Carol Weston of New York agreed that there are many inexpensive ways to show you care. Weston has written 12 books - including "Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You" (HarperCollins, 2004) and "Melanie in Manhattan" (Knopf, 2005), and offers advice for teens at on the Web. Her gift ideas include:

· Create a collage or scrapbook with photos of yourselves, your friends and the things you like to do together. Or mix your honey a CD of favorite songs. "That's very thoughtful and kind and caring and kind of romantic," Weston said. Mixing a CD also shows that you really know your guy's or girl's tastes, Carle added.

· Bake your sweetheart something sweet - a traditional act of love and friendship "that hasn't gone out of style," Weston said. "Mind you, he can bake for you, too."

· Make homemade jewelry such as bracelets woven from colorful string. "I think it's a great trend," she said. "It's a love note you get to wear."

· Flowers always will brighten a recipient's day, but give long-lasting blooms or houseplants.

· Craft a cup, bowl or other vessel from clay as a lasting and unique way to show you care. Businesses such as Pottery By Me, and More at 1201 Dual Highway in Hagerstown, offer ceramics projects that you paint and decorate. "That is a great gift," Weston said.

What's good for the goose

Forget old ideas about gifts according to gender, Weston said. Who says a guy won't like a plant, or a girl can't spring for a meal?

"If a girl wants to give a guy flowers or a houseplant, how lovely. If he wears the string bracelet, how fabulous. I think everything should be two-way," Weston said. "It's OK if he treats you to dinner, but treat him sometime, too. You do not have to go Dutch on Valentine's Day. But keep it fair."

Remember that lunch almost always costs less than dinner, and candles and music can add romance to any meal - even a pile of pancakes, Carle said.

Dates to remember

Dinner and a movie is sooo pass for Valentine's Day. Think outside the mall, teen dating experts said.

"The most important thing to remember is that you want to be able to converse," Carle said. She suggested taking in an exhibit at an art gallery, chatting over warm beverages at a coffeehouse or bookstore caf, or strolling hand-in-hand through the park.

Go to an art museum and pick out the painting you'd buy each other if you could, Weston said. Her other dating ideas include:

· Strap on ice skates or rollerblades for a date that's sure to set you spinning. "The great thing about a skating date is you have to hold hands," she said.

· Get dressed up for a night at the theater or the symphony. Or go casual to a community theater show.

· Check out interesting lectures and book signings. "That's fun, and it gives you something to speak about over decaf coffee," Weston said.

· Take a snowboard lesson together.

Keep expectations in check

It's easy to get all worked up about Valentine's Day - but don't, the experts said.

"The problem with Valentine's Day is high expectations," Weston said. "You want to make it fun, but you don't want to overbuild it. Enjoy the day and celebrate the day, but don't turn it into the turning point of a relationship."

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