Thwack! That’s Cupid’s arrow striking its target by the way because it’s 14th February, which only means one thing – it’s Valentine’s Day.
Just as our pockets and bodies were recovering from the Christmas and New Year excesses, here it comes the day we name after a Saint about whom we know absolutely nothing, old Val, demanding more indulgence .
Whether you are partnered up with a loved one, or you are love-struck or even happily enjoying your singleton’s freedom, it has become quite a challenge to escape from the lovey-dovey environment when the 14th of February comes calling.
Everything has to be red and heart shaped. Chocolates of all kinds and flowers of all prices decorate every shop window. “I love you” and multiple derivatives emblazoned on t-shirts and engraved on bracelets. Dine-for-two offers lure lovers to every type of restaurant, with the lights dimmed and candles flickering to fulfil romantic expectations.
Love is all around and, naturally, business is there to exploit it, with the added bonus that this year the 14th falls on a Sunday. Every conceivable romantic destination will probably be booked up for this weekend weeks ago – certainly in London.
A recent survey showed 61% of consumers confessing to celebrate the day of love, and almost a billion pounds was lavished on Valentine in the UK last year. However, the way people approach Valentine’s Day is adapting to our changing ways of living and loving.
In 2016, half those surveyed have asked their Valentines to go out this weekend through Whatsapp or other social media and, from those who didn’t yet have a partner to ask for a date, 17% considered using a dating website before Sunday, according to a survey by Chillisauce news website.
The most popular dating app, Tinder, broke activity records on 14th February last year, not only with 7.6% more searches for lovers than average but also with a surprising 6% rise in likelihood of being matched. Valentine’s charm or desperation? Who knows. In view of the fervor for finding a partner when Valentine approaches, the world leading dating website Match.com has an interesting offer: “Single this Valentine’s day? Make the most of it! Subscribe by February 14 and we’ll refund you if you’re single on Valentine’s 2017!”
It is understandable that Valentine’s image of streets and bars packed with couples walking hand in hand can raise an impulse in singles to speed their search for love – something easier and faster than ever, thanks to dating sites. But, if searches are successful, would that mean having a first date on Valentine’s day?
Nikki, a young school office manager from Arizona met Chris on Tinder a few weeks ago and he asked her to go out for the first time on this Sunday. Nikki was initially unsure of Chris’ offer, she told me. “I was super hesitant at first. I didn’t know if he remembered that Sunday was Valentine’s Day, so I asked him and was taken aback when he very coolly replied that yes, he knew it was Valentine’s Day, and yes, he wanted to take me out that day. I asked him if he felt pressured at all by all of the crazy romance that generally happens on Valentine’s Day, and of course he said no,” Nikki told your inquisitive correspondent.
Young people’s ways of flirting have changed as well as their romantic ideals and worries to meet traditional expectations. Nevertheless, some things remain unchanged. Men are still the ones who usually ask for the date and they mostly have to pay for the dinner as well. Last year men in the UK spent an average £35 on their Valentines while women spent about £21, according to consumer research agency Marketing Sciences.
One word of advice if you’re still reading this and haven’t done so already – the most popular person to send flowers to on Valentine’s Day is your mother.