Valentine’s Day is hazardous for your love life
There are lots of things I equate with love. Venereal Disease Day is not one of them. In fact, V Day is good for one thing only, which I will reveal after I discuss the reasons why this nauseating holiday is bad for love.
#1. If you’re dating someone, you just might break up on Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is not easy on couples. People often have overblown expectations—for roses, expensive jewelry, romantic dinners, gushy dialogue, fairy tale gooiness. The media, heavy advertising, and social pressures don’t help. It’s really a no-win situation: if your partner does something nice for you (or vice versa), did his/her action reflect deep love for you, or was it really only due to Valentine’s Day?
Thus, it’s not surprising that dating couples are over 5 times more likely to break up in the two-week period surrounding Valentine’s Day than during comparison periods in April, September, and November. Notably, the couples in this study had been dating for an average of 18 months, so these were not merely flings. The break-ups occurred for relationships that were moderately strong or poor, but not for very strong or improving relationships. The authors described Valentine’s Day as a catalyst for relationship dissolution, by hastening an inevitable break-up or by dissolving a relationship that may otherwise have recovered from its difficulties.
#2. Emergency rooms will see a spike in unloved, unhappy, self-destructive people
All the hype surrounding Valentine’s Day can make some people feel so miserable that they will harm themselves. Researchers in the UK examined the cases of intentional, non-fatal self-harm in emergency departments on Valentine’s Day, compared to two non-holidays. They found that—across a period of 6 years during the 1980’s—there were more cases of self-injury on Valentine’s Day than on the other days. A large proportion of these patients were adolescents. And, over half of the adolescents who poisoned themselves reported that they were having relationship difficulties with their boyfriends or girlfriends. I’ll venture a guess that some of the Valentine’s Day cases were due to unrequited love – if only these adolescents had Taylor Swift songs back then to help drown their sorrows.
Only 99% of Taylor Swift’s songs are about love gone wrong
However, hospitals are not wholly depressing places on Valentine’s Day. Researchers at Yale analyzed data from all births in the United States from 1996 to 2006, specifically examining the two-week period surrounding Valentine’s Day. They found a 5% spike in births on Valentine’s Day, suggesting that women might have some degree of control over spontaneous births. (Interestingly, births plummeted on Halloween. No data available for my birthday, April Fools!)
#3. You’ll be disappointed on Valentine’s Day…unless you’re single
Humans suck at accurately predicting their future emotions. In an affective forecasting study, people made predictions (one month prior) about how they will feel on Valentine’s Day, and they reported how they actually felt on the holiday. Those who had dates for Valentine’s Day overestimated how pleasant the day would be. The date-less folks predicted Valentine’s Day to be more unpleasant than it actually was. The singles probably realized that being single ROCKS because they were free to do whatever (or whomever) they wanted.
What, then, is Valentine’s Day good for? Half-priced candy on February 15.