Valentines Day is the most contradictory celebration of the year. The annual onslaught of heart-shaped commercial tat is unarguably irritating, exploitative and exclusionary, yet it is a celebration that men ignore at their peril. So, before you get it wrong again guys, here's ten things you need to know...
1. Valentine's Day is V. IMPORTANT to women because it is the one day when they can reasonably expect their otherwise reluctant lovers to verbalize their feelings and overtly demonstrate their affection. In the female brain, the flip side of this is that a partner who can't be bothered to acknowledge Valentine's Day is, in effect, saying that he can't be bothered with the relationship.
2. Unfortunately, because men are hopeless at emotional expression, they struggle with a traditional Valentine's script which requires them to proclaim their love and verbalise their feelings in a way that feels fundamentally female. This incongruity probably explains why Valentines cards have traditionally been anonymous.
3. It may also explain why 11million more texts were sent on Valentine's Day last year. Be warned men. A 'WUBMV' text or an 'egreeting' that isn't backed up with a real world card (preferably hand made and posted four days in advance), a bouquet of flowers (ethically sourced, natch) or a heart shaped box of (Fair Trade) choccies, will get you dumped, not laid.
4. It's not a one way exchange. Although women are the chief recipients of Valentines cards, they are also the biggest senders (Ogletree, 1993). In fact the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association estimates that women buy 85% of all Valentines cards.
5. This is probably because women are more emotionally expressive than men (Critelli, Myers, and Loos, 1986), and so they are more likely to communicate their feelings to those for whom they care on Valentine's, or any other Day.
6. Its also true that women are also the ones who keep family or 'kin' connections intact (Di Leonardo 1987) so they tend to send more cards anyway. In fact 80% of all annual card purchases, regardless of occasion, are made by women (Key Note Report 2012)
7. Because not getting a card on Valentine's is truly depressing, a percentage of women will address a couple to themselves as an insurance policy. One survey by Date.com, found that 75% of single women admitted to having sent themselves a Valentine card and 80% had also sent themselves flowers.
8. Research shows that the over-commercialisation of giving occasions, even small-scale events such as Valentine's Day, can result in increased anxiety and pressure on those actively involved in the ritual (Mortelmans and Damen, 2001; Wooten, 2000), however the best Valentines gifts don't have to cost anything. A hand-written love letter, or poem, will always be much more intimate and meaningful than anything shop-bought
9.Between men fighting against their natural instinct to bury their head in the sand until 15 February and women waiting anxiously for the post, the stress of living up to Valentine's Day expectations creates so much pressure that couples who are in moderately strong or weak relationships are two and a half times more likely to split up during the two weeks surrounding the event. And according to US legal website Awo.com there was also a 40% increase in requests for divorce lawyers on 14 February in 2012.
10. Its not all bad news though. A percentage of this years projected $17.6billion Valentine's Day spend will lead to a 30% spike in condom sales around 14 February. And more at-home pregnancy tests are sold in March than in any other month.