Valentine’s Day: a man’s perspective


Valentine’s Day has come a long way since its humble origins. And many men would argue it has gone too far. It’s estimated that it’s now worth in excess of £880 million in the UK alone – and most of this spend comes from men. But how did it all begin? And what do men really think about Valentine’s Day?

How it all began

289: A Christian priest called Valentine is beheaded for secretly carrying out weddings after Emperor Claudius had banned them fearing they weakened his army.

496: Pope Gelasius declared 14th February to be St Valentine’s Day, a Christian feast day.

1415: The Duke of Orleans wrote the first recorded Valentine’s note to his beloved while imprisoned in the Tower of London. Three years later King Henry V paved the way for Hallmark by employing a writer to compose his Valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

18-19th century: The passing of love-notes becomes a popular tradition in England and affordable postal services give birth to the anonymous Valentine’s Day card. By the early 19th century factories started to mass-produce cards.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Mens Valentines 1

Image source – Flickr

How do men really feel about Valentine’s Day?

For most women, Valentine’s Day is an occasion to look forward to – and why not? Any day devoted to chocolates, flowers and other showy displays of love is surely something to be savoured. For women a surprise demonstration of the strength of their partner’s love is not just wished for but expected.

Men, however, can approach the day in a somewhat different manner. Many men have come to dread Valentine’s Day – with all its pressures and expectations. Others see it as little more than a commercial exercise or simply forget about it all together. Here are some reasons why:

Social networks

Whereas women will discuss Valentine’s Day plans with their friends, men don’t have the same support network to drive home the importance of the day. Amongst men it’s just not a hot topic of conversation.

Reactionary emotions

Men don’t tend to show emotions unless strongly provoked to do so – it’s a part of their social conditioning. The somewhat artificial sentimentality of a prescribed day to demonstrate love on is not something men find easy to slip into.

Valentine’s inequality

The disproportionate spend by men on Valentine’s Day is just one side of the story. Many men feel they’re being unfairly pressured to perform by making extravagant gestures and inventing surprises on Valentine’s Day. If a relationship is about ‘we’ why is it that the onus is only on men?

Fear of failure

Many men feel that their Valentine’s efforts will be graded or measured against others and this can lead to anxiety or a begrudging sense of duty.

Mens Valentines 2

Image source – Flickr

Can’t buy me love

Valentine’s Day is a commercial event – one billion cards will be bought and sent all over the world this year, the price of roses will grossly inflate and Thorntons will make an extra 110,000kg of chocolate. You may not be able to buy love but we make a very good job of selling it.

With men in the UK spending an average £39.99 on gifts each year (and women less than £20) it’s clear who the onus of Valentine’s Day falls on.

10 most popular gifts that men buy:

  1. Flowers
  2. Chocolates
  3. Romantic meal
  4. Perfume
  5. Cuddly toy
  6. Night in a hotel
  7. Lingerie
  8. UK short break
  9. Jewellery
  10. Beauty treatment

And yet sometimes it’s the small things that count. A candle lit room and a private screening of a certain someone’s all-time favourite movie can mean so much more than anything that can be bought for him or for her.

What do you think about Valentine’s day – love it or hate it? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @eHarmonyuk

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