Expectations for Valentine’s Day too high

Katrina Mossberger

Love is in the air, and it’s the name of the game on Valentine’s Day. Today is the day when couples go out to expensive restaurants, men buy flowers, chocolates and diamonds, and quite a few of those dates are unhappy.

And it’s not just those who are single who are disappointed. Couples in a relationship can put so much emphasis on the day where their expectations are so high they can’t possibly be met. Whatever you gave, it wasn’t enough.

Single? Unhappy. In a relationship? Disappointed. For a holiday that’s supposed to be all about the love, it seems to cause a lot of heartache.

Why put so much weight on one day? The card and chocolate companies have a vested interest in us being so concerned with Valentine’s Day. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually. A Hallmark card is usually around $3 or $4. That’s a lot of money on just cards. Valentine’s Day is also one of the top days for candy sales, behind only Halloween, Easter and Christmas. So the companies want us to keep feeling the pressure to buy and give; they bring in a lot of money on Feb. 14 alone.

An expression of love shouldn’t have to fall on one day. A gift of flowers on a random day during the year will be more meaningful than on Valentine’s Day because then it’s unexpected. Something is always expected on Valentine’s Day.

And who says that expressing your love has to be something material? Cooking your loved one their favorite meal, sharing the remote, or taking on helping them out in their daily work so your loved one’s load is lessened can be a lot more meaningful than a card or a box of candy.

Despite this, the emotional build-up around this holiday is undeniable. Even though a romantic date or a thoughtful gift could mean a lot more on another holiday, almost everyone expects something on Valentine’s Day. My boyfriend and I decided to go without getting each other gifts or going out for dinner this year, but I still can’t help expecting at least a card even though we’re in financial dire straits. It’s hard to shake the desire to receive a gift when you learn to give and receive Valentines beginning in grade school.

I’m not trying to lessen anyone’s efforts on Valentine’s Day, nor imply you have to be in a relationship to have a great day. I’ve had a wonderful girls-only night to celebrate single-hood and seen some amazing gifts given on previous Valentine’s Days. But when reportedly 15 percent of women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day because the expectation of gifts is so high, it takes away from what today is supposedly about.