As the old saying would have it: “Valentine’s Day is the day that makes lonely people depressed and loved people possessed.” However, is this really correct? Do we really need to talk single people off the edge on the “day of love?” Or, perhaps, is it the people in a relationship that we should be concerned with? For example, do you think it is possible, that people in relationships hold unrealistic expectations of this pink and red holiday and wind up just as emotionally disturbed as those who are single (perhaps even worse)?
It is during moments like this when turning to science may provide us with an answer. Last year, a fellow sex researcher, Kristen Mark (PhD), decided to conduct a survey on men’s and women’s attitudes toward Valentine’s Day (click here for her original article). After surveying over 2,000 people, Mark discovered that a large proportion of her participants chose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day each year. In fact, 52% of single participants, 50% of widowed participants, 40% of separated participants, and 33% of divorced participants reported no plans to celebrate on February 14th. Interestingly, these proportions decreased with respect to single participants, with 12% of seriously dating participants and 17% of married participants indicating no intentions of celebrating the holiday.
Despite the large number of people who appear to be indifferent toward Valentine’s Day and choose to forgo celebrations, there is some evidence suggesting that Valentine’s Day may result in some disastrous consequences, particularly among those who place high value on the holiday and those who report low relationship satisfaction. In particular, a study conducted at the University of Arizona concluded that, during the week before and after Valentine’s Day, relationships were over 2.5 times more likely to terminate as compared to other times of the year (Morse & Neuberg, 2004). Moreover, those who experienced a break-up surrounding Valentine’s Day were more likely to report problems in their relationship as compared to those who reported that their relationship was unaffected (click here for an awesome infographic).
So, as Valentine’s Day approaches, DO NOT grab your cell phone to place the suicide hotline on speed dial because you assume your single friends are in trouble. Remember that many people (both single and those in a relationship) are indifferent toward the holiday and have no intentions of celebrating it in the first place. Moreover, based on some empirical evidence, those in a relationship (especially those in a “less than ideal relationship”) may be more at risk for depression or a broken heart on Valentine’s Day than those who are unattached.
In closing, to those of who are in “rocky relationships” (and want to continue being with your partner), it may be in your best interest to make this the MOST AMAZING VALENTINE’S DAY EVER! On the other hand, for those of you who know people in “rocky relationships,” be prepared to re-gift your chocolates and/or flowers to help a friend in need during a potential break-up induced sob session/depression.