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Don't let Valentine's Day kill your relationship

Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful opportunity to create a little romance, even if it's not your normal style.

Ask Men suggests re-enacting your first date, doing something active (like ice skating) together, going for a massage or spending the night at a bed and breakfast as some of its top ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

And who wouldn’t enjoy something like that?

But Valentine’s Day can also be hazardous to your relationship, especially if expectations between partners are too high or don’t match up.

“For those who are in relationships, Valentine's Day acts like a magnifying glass,” psychiatrist Carole Leiberman wrote in The Huffington Post. Flaws become more obvious when compared to fantasies of “perfect love we've been sold — from fairytales to films, and greeting cards to giant billboards.”

One study at Arizona State University found that 13 percent of romantic breakups occur in February, a short month that only represents 8 percent of the year. The study found that Valentine’s Day is not likely to cause relationship problems, but it can magnify problems that already exist.

“The trick is figuring out whether you're sabotaging a good relationship or holding onto someone who is bound to break your heart,” according to Leiberman.

To avoid negative Valentine’s Day fallout in a relationship you think is worth keeping, Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker of Psych Central offers these tips:

Clarify expectations ahead of time. “To prevent the heartbreak of disappointment or a serious misstep on what is supposed to be the day of love, have a clear conversation ahead of time about what you would both feel is appropriate to honor the day.”

Consider the stage of the relationship. “A relationship that has just begun is different than a relationship that is in full bloom, and that is different than longtime married love.”

Keep budget considerations in mind. “Love isn’t measured in dollars. It’s measured in thoughtfulness, tenderness and a bit of romance.”

Remember who you’re with. Some people just aren’t into “hearts and flowers and mushy romance,” and that may not change just because it’s Feb. 14.

Focus on love, not on what society says Valentine’s Day should be. “Some people are creative and capable of flamboyant surprises. Others are quieter and express their affection in simpler ways. There’s no right way to observe Valentine’s Day.”

Marsha Maxwell is an online journalist, writing teacher and PhD student at the University of Utah. She can be reached at