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Science of Relationships Survey: The Do’s and Don’ts of Valentine’s Day

In conjunction with “Relationship Science Month,” Monmouth University Professor Gary W. Lewandowski, Haverford College Professor Benjamin Le, and University of Texas Professor Timothy J. Loving of surveyed over 1,000 adults in the United States, representing 49 states, to learn more about what people really think about Valentine’s Day. This large-scale national survey answers some of the most common questions about Valentine’s Day.

Here is a sample of some of the interesting things we learned:

  • The vast majority of Americans view Valentine’s Day as “Just another day,” with only 24% saying that they “love” it. Singles who are looking for a relationship said they love Valentine’s Day more than singles that aren’t looking.
  • Women “love” Valentine’s Day more than men do, while men “hate” it more than women do. Women “love” it because it’s an opportunity to receive love and affection. Men “love” it because they get to have sex, but not just any kind of sex, “better than normal” sex. Men and women who hate Valentine’s Day blame commercialization.
  • Most Americans said its ok to go on a first date on Valentine’s Day. Ok to propose marriage? That isn’t so clear: 57% said “yes,” 43% said “no (it is gross or cliché).” Women thought it was more ok than men.
  • If you want to break up with your partner, you should do it before Valentine’s Day (69%). Think you’re being nice by putting it off until after? You’re in the minority (29%).
  • 70% of those surveyed indicated both couple members should plan Valentine’s Day festivities. If only one partner does the planning, it is the guy’s responsibility.
  • Flowers on Valentine’s Day? Red roses are your best bet, carnations are a safe bet, while daisies are a bad bet since they were ranked as the worst choice. Thinking of going for a more exotic choice?  It’s risky. 15% of those surveyed ranked “something exotic” (e.g., orchids) as their most preferred, but 17% ranked it as their least favorite.
  • The top three gifts women want for Valentine’s Day are jewelry (35%), flowers (24%), or a heartfelt card/gift (10%). Men want sex (44%), thoughtful card (9%), and “other” (14%; ex. Video game). And nobody wants a gag gift or a pet.
  • You should spend between $26 and $159 dollars on a gift. If you plan on spending toward the lower end of that range, perhaps you’re in love. People who reported being in love were willing to spend less than those not in love.

For other articles depicting the science of Valentine’s Day, the site includes research-based information about bad gifts to give, reasons for giving gifts, the perfect Valentine’s date, advice for singles, how Valentine’s Day could threaten your relationship, and the science of Valentine’s Day cards.

The website, read by millions of visitors, examines relationship themes in pop culture, provides engaging summaries of cutting-edge research, and answers common questions that people have about relationships. Common topics include attraction, dating, marriage, sex, cheating/infidelity, communication, parenting, and break-ups. In each case, scientists incorporate research findings into witty and provocative articles that help readers learn more about one of the most important facets of their lives.


To learn more about the Valentine’s Day Survey results mentioned here, additional results, or the site, please contact:

Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., Ph.D.; Monmouth University;

Benjamin Le, Ph.D.; Haverford College;

Timothy J. Loving, Ph.D.; University of Texas: Austin;