The hottest part of Valentine’s Day actually happens a couple of weeks beforehand: answering intimate, even creepy questions posed by a stranger as to how you plan to celebrate the dorky day of love.
How much do you plan to spend? Are you sick to death of carnations and Quality Street?
How many times have you ridden a train or walked through the supermarket with a helium-filled teddy bear emblazoned on his swollen tummy with I WUV YOU?
What were you thinking? What were you wearing?
These are good questions.
There is something zombie-like about spending $70 for a bunch of loveliness that costs half that on any other day of the year, unless you’re getting married or buried.
And, seriously, there’s no sense in buying a box of chocolates that traditionally turns to mud in the traditional February fug (not a saucy word, by the way).
But, as it goes with any conversation to do with love, those survey-takers aren’t working to liberate you from bondage. They’re just trying to sell you a different coloured piece of rope.
Some examples, please?
A OnePoll survey of 2000 people in a relationship found that nearly one in four people “have considered leaving their partner after receiving a cliché gift.”
Whaaaat? Yep. Bringing home a bunch of flowers and a bottle of champagne could well send the missus over the edge and out the door.
What about a do-it-yourself romantic gesture? Too risky.
The survey found that “14 percent of respondents objected to being serenaded as a Valentine’s Day gift.”
Furry handcuffs (34 per cent), flowers (28 per cent), and the classic heart-shaped box of chocolates (22 per cent) topped the poll, “as the Valentine’s Day gifts respondents said they would be most disappointed to receive.”
Is this putting you in a panic? Stay calm
The survey, commissioned by online jewellery company Angara.com, helpfully “examined the gifts and gestures that actually do make respondents feel appreciated in a relationship.”
Message: you have rocks in your head if you don’t put a rock on her finger.
A US survey commissioned by personal finance Lending Tree found that 40 per cent of people would rather out money into their savings account this year.
Health and wellbeing company Zulilly found that more than half the women they surveyed wanted to be left alone by their partners and spend “me time” being massaged by a professional.
This one actually makes sense after lockdown and other COVID-induced hot-housing. The women surveyed said “they’ve spent far too much time with their partner and are looking for a little bit of a break and time for themselves.”
The survey found that, on average, women need at least 13 hours of “me time” a week.
Beyond that, a survey last year found that most people give their partners a Fail grade for their Valentine efforts.
Can history help Valentine’s Day be more authentic?
Some origin stories are harder to reconcile with the others. The story of Christ born to die for the sake of saving humanity from itself is perpetually re-told in action movies. Yeah!
And the original St Valentine was a romantic at heart.
In 270AD, Roman Emperor Claudius the Cruel (yes, the bad guy) banned all marriages and engagements because he was struggling to enlist soldiers to the army.
Valentine continued to marry young people in secret, and Claudius chopped the priest’s head off to show he wasn’t kidding.
The story goes that Valentine befriended the jailer’s daughter. Before meeting the axe, on February 14, he is said to have written her a note: “From Your Valentine.”
Which suggests Valentine’s aren’t meant to be used for seduction.
However, Valentine’s execution coincided with the festival Lupercalia, “a bloody, violent and sexually-charged celebration awash with animal sacrifice, random matchmaking and coupling in the hopes of warding off evil spirits and infertility,” according to history.com.
All of which is a bit hard to pull off if your loved one has disappeared for the evening to be pampered elsewhere.