Valentine’s Day is celebrated as the holiday of love and relationships, with people expressing how much they care for their significant others (or just enjoying heart-shaped chocolates). While it doesn’t top the list of Americans’ favorite major holidays, it’s a time to discuss views on love, the nation’s favorite V-Day gifts, and whether Valentine’s Day is even a real holiday. Check out YouGov’s latest Cupid-approved polls on how Americans view Valentine’s Day.
What to get your Valentine for the holiday
Valentine’s Day does not need to be complicated: Americans cite a card (30%) as the item they most want as a gift on the special day. A similar percentage (28%) want a nice dinner out with their Valentine, and 27% would appreciate chocolates or candy. Women are more likely than men to want flowers (34% vs 10%) or jewelry (25% vs 7%), while men are more likely to say they want either nothing at all (21% vs 15%) or sexual favors (22% vs 11%).
Sweet gift ideas: America's favorite chocolate is milk chocolate
With chocolates or candy topping the list of gifts Americans want for Valentine’s Day, it’s important to pick the right desserts to give. In a 2021 poll, YouGov asked its members to choose their favorite chocolate of the main three: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. Men (47%) and women (50%) both prefer milk chocolate over the others, but dark chocolate takes a close second (33% and 35%, respectively).
When picking out a box of chocolates, double check that there are chocolate-covered caramels (29% call it their favorite) and chocolate-covered nuts (23%). These two are Americans' favorite items in an assorted box of sweets, followed by chocolate-covered toffee (12%), chocolate-covered coconut (11%), and chocolate-covered fruit (9%). Grab a box of candy conversation hearts while you’re at the store: most (55%) Americans strongly (17%) or somewhat (38%) like Sweethearts.
Is Valentine’s Day even a real holiday?
By 58% to 30%, people say Valentine’s Day does not qualify as a “real special occasion,” with men and women in agreement on the insignificance of the holiday. Perhaps that is a good thing, as 48% of women and 23% of men say they have felt disappointed by a romantic partner not doing enough on Valentine's Day.
All that pressure might have broader consequences: 7% of Americans say they have ended a relationship on Valentine’s Day. One in 8 Americans (12%) have ended a relationship shortly before (6%) or shortly after (6%) the big day.
What Americans think of love and relationship milestones
Participating in Valentine’s Day is a choice — and so is love to the 64% of Americans who agree that “love is a choice.” While there is general agreement with the idea of love as a choice, older Americans are especially likely to assert that it is. Nearly seven in 10 adults 55 and older believe that love is a decision, compared to just half (52%) of 18- to 24-year-olds.
When it comes to telling someone “I love you,” 37% of Americans tend to believe people should wait between one and six months before saying those words. Other relationship milestones — such as moving in together or getting engaged — should come later in the dating timeline, Americans say.
The holiday may highlight romantic relationships, but also the absence of them for single Americans. Unmarried women are most likely to say “singlism” — the idea that society’s laws, policies, and practices favor married people and couples over single people — is real; a majority (51%) say it exists, compared to 40% or fewer among men and married women.
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