What are our attitudes about Valentine's Day?

Numbers don't lie

Written by Kristen Mark, Ph.D.

It's almost Valentine's Day, the day of pink and red explosions of chocolates, roses and teddy bears everywhere you look. To some, this is an exciting time; a holiday looked forward to with anticipation. To others, this is a time of annoyance and bitterness toward a holiday perceived as commercialism at its finest. To some others, Valentine's Day is nothing but another day.

There hasn't been much research conducted to examine what anticipations surround this holiday, so along with Ian Kerner, I conducted a survey to examine the attitudes and expectations around Valentine's Day. Data collected online from 2,093 individuals provided some interesting findings.

More than half of the men and 42% of the women surveyed viewed Valentine's Day as a special day, but not everyone who is in a relationship anticipates or celebrates it.

We found that anticipation for the holiday varied based on whether the participant was in a relationship or not, with those in a relationship expressing more anticipation.

We found that of the 1241 men and 852 women surveyed, 12% of seriously dating participants and 17% of married participants were not planning to celebrate the holiday of love this year. That number, perhaps not surprisingly, jumps to 52% of single participants, 50% of widowed participants, 40% of separated participants, and 33% of divorced participants planning to forgo celebrations this February 14th.

Interestingly, gift-giving was more of a focus than the receiving of gifts, regardless of gender, with the typical chocolates, flowers, and lingerie topping the list of gifts to be given. However, we found that sex-oriented gifts (such as sex toys, lubricant, etc.) were going to be given by 30% of participants this Valentine's Day, and more than half of the participants (55%) indicated they were willing to try something new sexually because it's Valentine's Day. This expression of sexual adventurousness wasn't unique to one gender, as there was no significant gender difference on this variable.

So although it is likely too late to go and find a gift to give to your loved one, it isn't too late to talk about your sexual wants and needs with your partner, express some sexual adventure, or just say "I love you."

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