Materialistic Love

Now don’t get me wrong, by no means do I hate Valentine’s Day. Love is powerful, beautiful and worth celebrating, but today’s construct of Valentine’s Day that we’re familiar with isn’t necessarily a celebration of love. Valentine’s Day seems more like an obligation than a celebration.

Valentine’s Day rather is a day of great expectations. Couples are expected to shower their significant other with love and affection and spoil each other with thoughtful gifts, flowers and expensive dinners. But the social construct of Valentine’s Day also makes it a day of great pressure.

Valentine’s Day has inevitably become a commercialized holiday. Companies begin their marketing efforts for Valentine’s Day months in advance and several businesses are seeing significant increases in sales during this period, especially in purchases of jewelry, flowers and candy, according to the National Retail Federation.

The National Retail Federation’s annual Valentine’s Day report also found that 55 percent of the U.S. population is expected to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, and the total spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion. This means that U.S. consumers will spend an average of $143.56 on Valentine’s Day this year.

The annual Valentine’s Day splurge is a result of people feeling obligated to celebrate.

According to a study published in the Journal of Business Research, 63 percent of males feel obligated to give gifts to their partner on Valentine’s Day. In another report 53 percent of women said that they would end their relationships if they didn’t receive anything special from their partner, according to Statistics Brain Research Foundation.

This inevitably puts a lot of pressure on couples during Valentine’s Day, and it’s not surprising that many seem to break up during this time of the year. Breakup rates increase at the beginning of the new year and significantly rise in the period prior to and following Valentine’s Day, according to

Valentine’s Day isn’t any easier for people who aren’t in committed relationships. If you’re single on Valentine’s Day, you’re alienated by default from participating. Valentine’s Day is a socially constructed holiday meant to celebrate the love that exists between individuals in a relationship, which insinuates that couples are superior to singles.

“I’m tired of society making it seem as if single people somehow have failed because they’re not in a relationship and celebrating Valentine’s Day with a partner,” said Hanna Wallin, a 23-year old single female living in West Hollywood. “There are many people who are content with being single and who actually enjoy it, but somehow society still makes us feel like we’re a failure on Valentine’s Day.”

Whether you’re in a relationship or not, you most likely experience the societal pressure of celebrating Valentine’s Day. As it approaches, people who are dating are forced to make quick decisions about where their relationships are heading. It tends to prematurely force people in and out of relationships, and often results in awkward relationship conversations far too soon.

Valentine’s Day has the power of discrediting the nature of love and relationships. Love isn’t about exchanging gifts and doing nice things for your significant other because you’re expected to. Love is about doing thoughtful things for the person you love for no other reason than that you love and appreciate them.

Julia Westman