Guess Who Loves Valentine's Day . . . and Who Doesn’t?
Who benefits most from Valentine's Day? According to recent surveys, it's not all rosy in the relationship trenches. Learn why Valentine's Day is men's least favorite holiday.
Who do you think benefits most from Valentines Day? – Merchants! Valentine’s Day is great for the economy. Last year people spent over $13 billion on cards, dinners, flowers, candy and other gifts. And this year is looking pretty good too.
But from here in the relationship trenches it’s not so rosy, according to recent online surveys. TeamDating.com found that over 90% of 1,000 men said that Valentine’s Day was their LEAST favorite holiday, and that it was a waste of money.
At okcupid.com 57% of respondents said that Valentine’s Day is “just a Hallmark holiday.”
And a non-dating website, snet.net analyzed the responses of several thousand men and women. Nearly half of them described Valentine’s Day as a trivial nuisance or usually a letdown. Only 18% viewed the holiday as an excuse for romance.
Like Christmas, Valentine’s Day comes preloaded with unrealistic, romanticized expectations. It’s no longer about love; it’s about impressing someone. According to the ads and commercials, the more expensive or the more imaginative your gift, the more it shows how much you love your significant other.
No wonder men don’t like this holiday, with so much pressure to come up with the perfect card, the perfect gift, the perfect date.
Instead of promoting love and relationships, modern Valentine’s Day generates anxiety. Men agonize over the greeting card racks, hoping that they can choose a card that is not too funny, not too mushy. And the gift: how will she interpret it? If I buy her chocolates will she think I want her to get fat? If I don't buy her chocolates will she think I assume she is fat? Is the gift too extravagant? Is it too impersonal? Are roses too predictable?
This is not what love is all about. Love is much more complex than flowers and chocolates. Social psychologists have been studying interpersonal attraction and love for 40 years, and they still haven't figured it out completely.
But we do know that love relationships are multi-dimensional. Sexual attraction, or what some people call "chemistry" is only one ingredient of a love relationship, and often not even the most important one.
Neither is material wealth or physical attractiveness all that important in the long run. A recent study of middle-aged college graduates indicated that good-looking people, on average, were no more satisfied with their marriages or with their lives, than were plainer people.
So what does constitute long-term contentment in relationships?
• Equity: The partners feel they are each getting about as much as they're giving. Not that they keep score, but over the long run things even out. This is similar to just being good friends to one another, supporting one another, laughing at each other's jokes even though you've heard them dozens of times.
• Investment: This refers to material possessions, time and emotional investment. The greater the investment, the more likely you will stay together.
Does all this mean you should just ignore Valentine's Day? Not necessarily. Buy that card and gift if you wish, but keep in mind that they’re not a maker or breaker of your relationship.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pauline Wallin, Ph.D. is a pscychologist and life coach in Camp Hill, PA, and author of Taming Your Inner Brat: A Guide for Transforming Self-defeating Behavior." Visit her website: http://drwallin.com