Experts say the holiday can evoke different emotions depending on your relationship status.
How you feel about Valentine’s Day may depend on how you feel about yourself and what kind of relationship you’re in, if any.
A recent survey of Healthline readers revealed Valentine’s Day is still quite popular among married people while single folks aren’t quite as enamored with the holiday.
In addition, a vast majority said they wouldn’t be devastated if they were alone on Feb. 14. Women, in fact, seemed to be more OK with spending the holiday by themselves than men.
About 75 percent of the online respondents were women with 25 percent men. Almost 58 percent said they were married or in a long-term relationship compared to 11 percent who were “seeing someone,” 24 percent who were single, and about 7 percent who were “somewhere in the middle.”
Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., a relationship expert who teaches at the University of Washington, said the holiday can indeed differ for people depending on what’s happening in their lives.
Someone who is in a troubled relationship or no relationship at all might dread the holiday. Others in a thriving relationship will probably view it as a time to celebrate.
“It’s a different experience for people in different situations,” she said.
Overall, a majority of Healthline readers said they enjoy Valentine’s Day.
In all, 54 percent checked the box that stated: “I love it. It’s a fun way to celebrate the loved ones in your life.”
Another 21 percent said “It’s just another day for me.”
Almost 18 percent said “I don’t care for it. It’s too commercial.”
And 7 percent said the holiday makes them “sad and lonely.”
Probably to no one’s surprise, people in a relationship seemed to like Valentine’s Day more than their single counterparts.
How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?
About 62 percent of married people or those in a relationship said they loved the Feb. 14 holiday. About 34 percent of single people had the same response.
However, 20 percent of married respondents said they “don’t care” about the holiday. That was higher than any other group.
On the other hand, 19 percent of the single respondents said Valentine’s Day made them sad and lonely. Only 2 percent of married respondents checked that box.
There was no statistical difference in this category between men and women.
Wendy Walsh, Ph.D., a relationship expert who comments on the science of love on television and her Los Angeles-based radio show, said the number one emotion felt on Valentine’s Day is probably pressure.
“People feel this societal pressure to perform on this day,” Walsh said.
She said this is particularly true for men who have been taught to express love through “a display of resources.”
Her advice is to take it down a notch and perhaps exchange the idea of an expensive gift for something more memorable like enjoying a home-cooked meal on an elegantly set table.
“Don’t take it too seriously,” she said. “Remember that an experience matters more than stuff.”
People also tend to want to spread the love when Feb. 14 comes around.
About 60 percent responded that they like to express love to family members on Valentine’s Day. Another 44 percent said they expressed that feeling to a partner.
Another 18 percent mentioned best friends while 14 percent included pets. Another 11 percent mentioned friends on social media such as Facebook and Instagram.
Respondents were allowed to check more than one box on this question.
Who do you express love to on Valentine’s Day?
About 65 percent of women in the survey said they express love to family on the holiday. About 52 percent of men said they express their love to a partner.
Twice as many single people (22 percent) mentioned pets as did married people and people in a relationship (11 percent).
Walsh said it’s not surprising that Valentine’s Day has extended beyond a person’s significant others.
She said corporations that make money on holidays have already extended the length of the seasons for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even Halloween.
For Valentine’s Day, the holiday has been expanded with cards for siblings, children, and others.
Walsh said she doesn’t like the commercialism of this trend, but she feels it’s a good thing that people can express gratitude and affection for others on this particular holiday.
Schwartz agreed, saying it’s a “moment to celebrate relationships.”
“I think it’s great time to do something for a friend, parent, or in-law,” she said.
Being alone on Valentine’s Day isn’t the end of the world for a lot of the respondents.
About 58 percent said they’d “be OK” with spending the holiday by themselves. More women (60 percent) than men (52 percent) said it would be alright to be alone on Feb. 14.
If you were alone on Valentine’s Day, how would you feel?
About 26 percent said being alone on Feb. 14 would make them sad. More men (30 percent) said they’d be sad not to share Valentine’s Day with someone than women (24 percent).
Another 10 percent said they’d actually be happy, mainly because they wouldn’t have to buy anything or dress up that day.
Another 6 percent said they “wouldn’t care” because they dislike Valentine’s Day.
Walsh said she isn’t surprised by the number of respondents who didn’t appear to be fearful of being alone on Valentine’s Day.
“People are intelligent enough to recognize that this is not a holiday generated by anything spiritual,” she said.
Schwartz added she wasn’t surprised more women than men were OK with being alone. She said women tend to have a better support network of friends.
“I think women take better care of themselves,” she said.
A majority of respondents think Valentine’s Day is still important for people in a long-term relationship.
In the survey, 54 percent said Valentine’s Day should still matter in long-term relationships. Another 39 percent said it depends on the relationship while only 7 percent said the holiday isn’t important in those situations.
Do you think Valentine’s Day still matters in long-term relationships?
Schwartz said she was heartened by the percentage of people who think the holiday is important for couples who’ve been together for a while.
She said Valentine’s Day, in fact, is probably more important for people in long-term relationships than those who are simply dating.
People who have been together for a long time, she said, can often get bogged down in mundane day-to-day lives. They become more of an “efficient working machine” than a couple.
“I think Valentine’s Day can be really reassuring and really necessary,” she said. “The best couples realize it’s important to re-stoke those fires.”