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February 2019: Attitudes to celebrating Valentine’s day

Introduction

In February 2019, Relationships Australia focussed on Valentine’s day in the monthly online survey.  Our attention on Valentine’s day relates to our continuing interest in national holidays and events and how they impact positively or negatively on couple and family relationships.

While Valentine's day is not a national holiday in Australia or overseas, many countries recognise the day as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of love, with many modern families celebrating Valentine’s day with the exchange of gifts.  In the U.S, for example, more than half of Americans participate in the rituals of Valentine's day, while in the United Kingdom is it estimated that 1 in 3 adults participate.  In a poll conducted in 2016, customary gifts associated with Valentine’s day included chocolates, alcohol, flowers and cards, while common activities cited by couples celebrating Valentine's Day included a meal in a restaurant (51%), a romantic night in (32%) or a night out at the cinema (7%).

While many people support the celebration of Valentine’s day, conflict may occur if there are differences in the expectations of partners in relation to celebrating national holidays and events, such as Valentine’s day.  In one Australian survey, more than half of survey respondents thought Valentine’s day was important in long-term relationships; however, research suggests that people’s interest in observing Valentine’s Day wanes as they age and reduces as the length of their relationship increases.  Couples who had been married less than five years consistently spend the most on Valentine’s Day activities and gifts.

Notwithstanding, there appears to be a high proportion of Australian couples who value the cultural rituals that have evolved alongside Valentine’s day.  Relationships Australia’s Valentine’s day monthly online survey asked visitors to our website a few questions about their views of the importance of Valentine’s day in their personal partner relationships.

Previous research finds that…

  • In an Australian survey of 1700 respondents in 2018, 36% of people intended to celebrate Valentine’s Day, spending, on average, around $75 each.
  • Just under half of people who were a member of a couple liked Valentine’s day, whilst a further 40 percent were ambivalent about it.
  • 25% of respondents no longer celebrated Valentine’s Day because they think it’s too commercial and expensive.
  • 18% have never celebrated the Valentine’s Day because they don’t believe in it.

Results

More than 1 450 people responded to Relationships Australia’s online survey in February 2019.  Just under 80 per cent of survey respondents (79%) identified as female, with more females than males responding in every age group (figure 1).  Eighty-eight per cent of survey respondents were aged between 20‑59 years, and 59 per cent of respondents comprised women aged between 30-49 years (inclusive).

As for previous surveys, the demographic profile of survey respondents remains consistent with our experience of the groups of people that would be accessing the Relationships Australia website.

 

Survey respondents were asked whether they celebrated, or had previously celebrated, Valentine’s day with their current or most recent partner.  Men (30%) were more likely than women (19%) to report that they celebrated Valentine’s day, while women (35%) were more likely than men (25%) to report that they never celebrated Valentine’s day (figure 2).

There were significant differences in the reports of men and women when they were asked about the importance of celebrating Valentine’s day.  More than half of women (52%) and 44 per cent of men thought that celebrating Valentine’s day was unimportant.  Conversely, less than 10 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men considered celebrating Valentine’s day was very important.

The majority of men and women reported that they agreed with their partner’s view about whether or not they celebrated Valentine’s day (figure 3).  Fewer than 20 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men did not feel the same way about celebrating Valentine’s day as their current or most recent partner.

 

Women were most likely to report that celebrating Valentine’s day was a chance to have some light‑hearted fun (40%).  Men were most likely to report that Valentine’s day was an opportunity to show their partner how much they cared (28%), while 23 per cent also thought it was a chance to have some light-hearted fun (figure 4).

 

More than 55 per cent of men and women reported that the worst thing about celebrating Valentine’s day was that it was too commercial (figure 5).  More than 18 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men thought that the worst thing about celebrating Valentine’s day is that it makes people who are not in a relationship feel bad.

Relationships Australia State and Territory websites