Whenever I think of Valentine’s Day, my millennial mind always wanders to Jim Carrey in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

“Valentine’s Day is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap,” his character, Joel, narrates. This timeless film encapsulates what many of us feel or have felt when love lets us down. But also where our expectations of it can lead.

Over the years, the approach to celebrating Valentine’s Day has shifted. We live in a post-COVID world, where most people still long for connection but find themselves adrift at sea with ghosts, fleeting connections, and situationships. And let’s be honest, no amount of chocolate hearts, flowers, or sex toys can fill that void.

However, not all is doomed. As with everything in life, transformation brings forth new ideas. Also, ways in which we can shift our reality to our benefit. In my sex coaching practice, I often tell clients that where you are today is not where you have to be in the next month, year, or decade. We have the power to ask for what we want and be open to receiving it.

Here’s what I’m asking for this Valentine’s Day.

Sex as a means of connection, not just to fulfill a basic need

Giving a standing ovation to porn and the “casual” dating industry, the sexual connection has been diminished to bumping our genitals together in the hope of achieving orgasm. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being sex-positive or open to sex. This Valentine’s Day, consider viewing sex as a means of connection with your partner or with yourself.

Even if you’re in a situationship or have an assigned “sex buddy,” connection doesn’t only have to be romantic. By respecting, honoring, listening, and holding space for the other person during sex, you’re already allowing them to fully embrace pleasure.

Worried about catching feelings? Catch them anyway. While much of today’s pop culture consumption pulls us away from “ilusionarnos,” there’s a beautiful energy of surrender and attraction sent into the universe when we daydream about our ideal scenario.

Additionally, we’re often faced with ingrained shame or guilt after having sex, even if it’s with our partners. When we establish a connection, these feelings are less likely to arise. If they do, tune in to how you felt at that moment, not what happened after.

Skipping the fancy Valentine’s Day dinners and crowds and opting for low-key, intimate options

Grand gestures are great, but so are intimate ones. This Valentine’s Day, go for something intimate and personalized that dives deeper into what love truly means to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re single or in a relationship; think of ways to beat the status quo.

If you have a partner you’ve been with for a while, go for ideas that can take you back to the origins of your love.

This could be meeting up at your favorite coffee shop in the morning or afternoon and sitting at your favorite booth. You can also turn up the music and have a dance party in the kitchen. Or gaze into each other’s eyes (one of my favorite tantric exercises).

Whatever you choose, I’d opt for personalizing your dates and keeping pressure off of each other. Ask yourself: how can I build more intimacy with myself and my partner? What would I like to try differently?

Incorporating sex toys, dirty talk, and complicity into V-Day Sex

One of my favorite Valentine’s Day gifts to myself this year was buying an “Amor Starts With You” bundle from Modern Muze. Self-love is one of the greatest expressions of our sensuality, and gifting ourselves a little something to spice up our sex lives is pivotal.

If you’re single, get yourself comfy and sensual lingerie, a brand-new sex toy, and some lube. I personally love Bloomi’s oil-based lubricant (which is the only one in the market that can be used with their sex toys) and their newest drop, “Caress.”

With your partner, discuss trying something new in the bedroom. Maybe adding a vibrating toy while you explore penetration for double the pleasure, picking a new spot in the house (hello kitchen table!), or introducing a longer period of foreplay.

One more thing? Get complicit. Establishing a caring relationship is amazing, but so is finding complicity with your partner. Find those spots where you’re each other’s teammates in every space.

Whatever you choose, remember that Valentine’s Day is just one day of the year, and love is everlasting, especially the one you feel for yourself.