Valentine’s Day – a time to celebrate love in all of its forms. The holiday mainly serves as a time of the year to exhibit appreciation for that special someone or as a chance to take a relationship to the next level. Yet, might Valentine’s Day, despite its primary marketing as a day to enhance romantic relationships, ironically initiate their collapse and end up in a disastrous departure?
As much as holidays can be stressful, people’s relationships might have endured through the bitter winter holidays of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, you name it. Given this fact, they assume that Valentine’s Day will be a cinch. Surprisingly, in a 2004 study conducted at Arizona State University, week before and after February 14th was the ultimate period when higher-than-normal rates of dating breakups occurred in the week compared to other times of the year. To add on to the awe factor, during this two-week term, relationships were over 2.5 times more likely to end. Indeed, the Valentine’s Day itself certainly doesn’t directly lead to breakups. But it is definitely a fact that there is certainly something going on around this much-anticipated amorous anniversary.
So what exactly is it about this day that makes couples that are tearing apart more inclined to call it quits after Feb. 14?
Let’s face it: women tend to have the big bloated dream of a perfect Valentine’s Day that will unfold like a corny jewelry commercial, decked out with an emotional gift opening, a big, affectionate embrace and a tender lip lock to complete. So when that doesn’t occur in their hoped schedule of the day, they ponder upon the reality if they’re is a problem within their relationships. Moreover, a “wrecked” Valentine’s Day can bring up other relationship anxieties or unpleasant memories to the surface, causing further trouble.
The researchers of the study explored and came up with two possible causes that may justify the annual Valentine’s Day breakup boost. One reason is that Valentine’s Day causes variety of comparisons that could be damaging to one’s relationship, or so they call it as “instigator hypothesis”. For example, the significant other may not live up to the sky-high social expectations associated with Valentine’s Day because there was nothing special planned for the holiday, no dramatic gift exchange, no reservation at a fancy Italian restaurant, and many more. Such failures to satisfy the partner could definitely be seen as a dangerous impetus, potentially leading to a rocky relationship. The other cause is called “catalyst hypothesis”, when prevailed problems are worsened after Valentine’s Day, serving as a minor push that eventually result in a breakup. Therefore, the extra pressure of Valentine’s Day seems to attribute to already moderately strong and weak relationships on a downward trajectory, leading to increase in breakups as a result. Meaning, these relationships were particularly likely to falter during the Valentine’s Day period by the exacerbation of existing issues.
Despite the research, the outcomes of the 2004 study did not justify the “instigator hypothesis.” Rather, the results showed that couples that were already on a relational rug resurface were the ones more likely to break up around Valentine’s Day, demonstrating the direct example of the “catalyst hypothesis”. Due to this conclusion, it just all comes down to the fact that everyone desires to feel loved and be treated as somebody special, so on days like Valentine’s Day, they want to feel showered with affection like how the society appoints. For those couples experiencing a rough point of their relationship, Valentine’s Day may serve solely as a little side reminder that something is off within their bond. Then follows up the inner restlessness, the barrage of angry conversations and then the parting of ways, so called a breakup. After all, a box of chocolates can’t erase that pain.
– Ashley Kim (’18)