My girlfriend and I found each other again after seven years apart. I want to do something special to surprise her for Valentine's Day. Can you help me with ideas? -Shawn

My girlfriend and I found each other again after seven years apart. I want to do something special to surprise her for Valentine’s Day. Can you help me with ideas? —Shawn

Keeping in mind that you reconnected after being apart for seven years, why not rediscover when you fell in love? Relive a specific moment in time. Take a moment to go down memory lane — think back to where you first met, your first kiss, favorite date spot, your song, etc. I am sure you can recall a moment or two that stand out that can possibly be recreated or reenacted. It’s all about the details!

Guys, store-bought gifts are great (especially in jewelry form), but most women will agree that genuine gifts from the heart are preferred. She’ll love something that requires planning, effort and thought on your part. Hallmark-created, or not, use this day as an opportunity to woo your woman!

Shawn, if this idea isn’t fitting, maybe you should consider proposing – after seven years apart, the optimist in me believes some things happen for a reason.

I have a guy friend who I briefly dated a few years ago. Since then we’ve become friends and hang out often. I have slept with him but am not interested in more. Lately I get the feeling he is. How do I tell him we are “just friends”? —Lori

This is a great example of one of the downfalls of friend with benefits. While friends with benefits can work for some singles, getting in and getting out of these relationships is always complicated. Your situation requires a little more consideration because he was your boyfriend before he was your friend!

Being friends after having a relationship is possible, but it’s tricky. It can be difficult to know what feelings remain, and the last thing you want is confusion. You broke it off for a reason, and remaining close makes it hard to move on emotionally. Be up-front with your intentions and honest about your feelings.

Rather than disappear on this guy or play mind games with him, consider telling him that you only want to be friends. Or blow his mind and tell him he can still call his ex-girlfriend for the hookup — you just may not always answer.

I am not a stalker, but want to know if it is wrong to dig for dirt on my date(s) before we go out? —Stephen

These days, I assume everyone is doing some snooping! If you aren’t dating through a service that screens for you, then I absolutely recommend doing your own due diligence. Whether you simply want to see what side of town she lives on or have larger concerns (say, about a criminal record), access is easy if you know where to go.

Start simple by doing a Google and Facebook search for your date’s name. Both of these are quick and easy searches that provide basic information. If you’re interested in her employment particulars, check out LinkedIn. Heads up: LinkedIn searches aren’t anonymous; there is an option to see who has viewed your profile. Local government websites are free and helpful for checking criminal history and divorces. Full-blown background checks are also an option and more comprehensive, but they can be expensive.

Regardless of the extent of your curiosity, your purpose should be pure, not superficial. You never know what you are going to get, so be safe and be smart. A little “snooping” could keep you from making a really big mistake.

I have made a difficult decision to end my two-year relationship with my boyfriend. Should I wait until after Valentine’s Day to do it? —Angela

There is never a right time to break up with someone. Holidays, even Valentine’s Day, only amplify the awkwardness. If the relationship is no longer a fit, you shouldn’t prolong the inevitable.

There is no reason to pretend and string him along. Plus, I assume that plans are being made, and maybe he is clueless and is about to ask you for more commitment. Awkward. By breaking up now, you save the expense of a gift or, at minimum, a disingenuous Valentine’s Day card. Cut him loose now.

The last thing I suggest in any relationship is more complication and confusion. If you are committed to a decision, be quick and concise. Next!

· Nicci Sprouse is the owner of a local dating service. Send your questions about love and relationships to"> Or get in touch through her website, ">