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Chris graduated from Georgia State University in 2009 with degrees in Journalism and Creative Writing. He has spent a lot of time working with the media. From engineering radio broadcast for most of Atlanta’s major sports teams to shooting high school football games behind a camera, Chris has a lot of media experience. Besides that, he loves soccer, detective shows, and a buffet list of 'nerdy' things that would embarrass his wife.

A Survey From Her Heart: Evaluating the Expectations of Valentine’s Day

If I were to walk into a room with a bunch of guys and asked them what holiday is coming up, you know what I’d most likely hear?

The Superbowl!” Correct, but that’s not a holiday, so try again.

National Pancake Day!” No, well, yes–and thank you for reminding me.

Valentine’s Day is coming, gentlemen; have you walked into a supermarket lately? I know, I really know how to take the air out of the room, but seriously, now is the time to start thinking about it. If you’re lucky enough to be in a relationship at this time (or unlucky, depending on how you look at February 14th), then it’s probably just dawned on you that– according to whomever makes these rules–this is the one day for you to dazzle your girl with some exuberant display of affection. Why else would it be on the calendar, right?

Well, over the past week and a half, I’ve surveyed 25 women between the ages of 21 and 35, and asked them what they expect from a guy on Valentine’s Day within the various stages of a relationship. I was hoping to get some insight or a timeline that could help guys everywhere go into Valentine’s Day with a legitimate plan. You’re welcome. However, during my first round of questions, I was given very interesting and unexpected views. So unexpected, that it changed the way I looked at this project. But more on that after my interpretation of the results…


Image Credit: Corbis

First, think about how long you’ve been with your significant other. Generally, if you can count the number of dates you’ve had on a couple of fingers, then it’s safe to say that your relationship is fairly new. Well, about three quarters of the women believe that someone they have just recently started dating (less than 6 months) really isn’t expected to do much–if anything. So does that mean that you’re off the hook? No, but it does mean you can relax a little bit. No need to bring out the big guns on that first Valentine’s date. However, it is still important to bring something to the game (i.e. – a flower, card or balloon).

After that, the specificity of the answers began to vary, but the general ideas remained fairly consistent. In general, most of the women seemed to agree that dating for at least 6 months meant that the ante needed to be upped, and a year of dating saw most women mirror the expectations of Kristen in Georgia:

Something that shows personal investment […] This is the most romantic time of a relationship! It needs to be sweet! But not expensive.

In fact, around a couple of years into the relationship, the surveyed women seemed to focus on fiscal responsibility, more so than big spending (there were a few mentions of jewelry–but we will call that a mulligan).

Couples Massage

Image Credit: Corbis

The engagement period yielded another set of interesting answers with most of the women wanting their fiancé to be thoughtful and recognize the stress that they are undoubtedly taking on. A good example of this can be heard from Rebecca in Oklahoma:

If [she is] stressed with wedding planning, take her to a couples massage. Take the time to remember why you love each other in the midst of wedding planning.

Still with me so far? Good, because here is where the proverbial “loop” gets thrown. Most of us guys expect to have to out do ourselves year in and year out. I mean, if you got her a rose one year, then you are getting her at least a dozen (or throwing some candy in there) the next. However, there was a huge split in the results once we started getting into “married” territory. There was a slight minority of women whose expectations lowered after marriage. They still preferred something thoughtful, but weren’t expecting a grandiose statement by any means. However, more women said that after marriage, they expected nothing. Nada–not even a card. That blew my mind. Their explanations all carried the common theme–they expected their man to most likely forget at that point in the relationship.


Image Credit: Getty Images North America

So what does that mean? We’re off the hook once the vows are said? Possibly, but in my opinion, now you’re playing a very dangerous game of Russian Roulette. In my experience, the best time to go big is when they are least expecting it. That’s how surprises work anyway, right? For those of you guys who don’t know, there is a point system. It’s not like a basketball game, because there is no end; and it’s not like a rewards card because the points are arbitrarily given. To make a long story short, guys need these points to do those things that, well, guys want to do. Want to go watch the game with the boys instead of shopping for kid’s clothes, you need points. Want to sit around all day and play Madden–points. Don’t want to go see that Katherine Heigl movie–ton of points.

Man, I’m always watching Heigl movies. How do we get these points?” You haven’t been listening.

I’m kidding of course, no woman keeps a tally of their man’s good deeds. However, the point can still be made for us guys to continue to impress even when it may not be expected of us. After all, marriage is an adventure, and what’s an adventure without a few pleasant surprises.

Finally, here is the thing that really surprised me about the whole survey. There seemed to be a general consensus that there really shouldn’t be a great emphasis for Valentine’s Day. I think Casey in South Carolina sums it up the best with her expectations:

Overall, I dislike mindless spending and I feel like Valentine’s Day can cause a lot of that. I also dislike shameless self-promotion and image crafting (through various social medias) and Valentine’s Day causes that as well. I am just as guilty as the next person for both of those things. I DO however like thoughtful, intentional ways to express emotion and gratitude for the one you love […] So, my expectations for Valentine’s Day are pretty much the same for any day – make it apparent to your partner how much you love them as creatively and frequently as you can.

With that being said, no one wants to feel left out, and it’s generally safe to assume that there is some level of thoughtfulness that needs to be shown. It’s also important to remember that every woman is different and unique. What impresses your significant other may not impress someone else’s–or vice versa. The results of this survey are just meant to guide where you may be at, or headed to, when it comes to planning something for Valentine’s Day.

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  1. Do Opposites Really Attract? | My Blogs and Articles - February 7, 2014

    […] A Survey From Her Heart: Evaluating the Expectations of Valentine’s Day […]

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