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black-couple-madValentine’s Day is fast approaching, but many couples are confused about the dos and don’ts of this special day. Should you go to dinner? Should you pull a Beyonce and cater to him? Should you dance for him? And what about her — should you get her a massage? A new pair of shoes? How special should you make your loved one feel?

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We’ve got so many questions, there’s no way we would have been able to figure it our ourselves. We tapped Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally-recognized etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, who says there are seven common mistakes most couples make on Valentine’s Day. Here’s her advice on how to avoid them:

1. Treating this day just like any other day: Even if you’ve been together for many years and don’t typically make a big deal of Valentine’s Day, at least acknowledge that special someone in your life by letting them know you love them and how much they mean to you. If you’re short on cash, make a card, pick flowers out of your garden, have a picnic on the beach, give each other a massage, or cook your favorite meal together.

2. Settling for the ordinary: According to restaurant critics, Valentine’s Day is the worst time to go out to dinner. Restaurants are crowded and you may not be guaranteed the best service. Try something different for a change. Take a trip to the place where the two of you met. Take him on a horse and buggy ride around the city. Or do something unforgettable and adventurous like going on a hot-air balloon ride together.

3. Resisting chivalry: We don’t see it much these days, but chivalry still matters, especially in the beginning stages of a relationship. It’s always nice if a man opens the door for his date, offers his jacket on a chilly night, pulls out her chair, picks up the tab, and walks her to the door and gives her a gentle kiss on the cheek (with no other expectations).

4. Forgetting to use good manners: Those lessons mom taught you about not talking with food in your mouth and chewing with your mouth shut are still relevant. The fastest way to turn your date off is to have bad table manners. Dress for the occasion, be an attentive listener, put your date first and technology last (mobile devices should be put on silent and stay in your purse or pocket), and don’t drink too much alcohol and run the risk of embarrassing yourself or others.

5. Being closed-minded: It used to be proper protocol for men to ask women out, but times have changed. It is perfectly acceptable for a woman to ask a man out, pay all or part of the bill and even initiate a goodnight kiss.

6. Giving into societal pressure: For many couples, Valentine’s Day comes with a lot of expectations. If you both aren’t ready to get engaged, don’t do it just to please family and friends or if the time isn’t right. Keep the element of surprise alive. Choose to propose when the other person least expects it.

7. Breaking up on Valentine’s Day: If you want out of your relationship, never breakup on Valentine’s Day. It’s unfair, impolite and just in bad taste all around. Valentine’s Day in the years ahead will always be marked with an unpleasant memory for both of you.

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