Valentine’s Day Is Bad for Relationships (and That’s a Good Thing)


[♪ INTRO] Ah, love is in the air, or, at least, it should
be, since it’s almost Valentine’s Day. But here’s the thing: scientists have found that this romantic holiday can have a negative impact on relationships. And the holiday-related obligation to be lovey-dovey
may have something to do with it. There aren’t a ton of studies on Valentine’s
Day, but those that exist suggest it isn’t all hearts and roses. For example, one study from 2004 found that
college couples that had been dating for at least five weeks were 2.5 times more likely to break up in
the weeks surrounding Valentine’s Day than during three other, comparable times
of the academic year. Which kind of seems to go against the whole
point of having a special day to celebrate love. But there are several reasons why this holiday
might doom relationships. For starters, there are all the expectations
surrounding Valentine’s Day. I mean, it’s no secret that Valentine’s
Day comes with its share of obligations. Like, if you’re in a relationship, you’re
generally expected to give your partner something. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing,
since gifts can make you feel closer to your beloved. But studies suggest they don’t change the
overall trajectory of a relationship, and they may actually be harmful if they’re
given for the wrong reasons. Some as-of-yet unpublished research presented at a meeting of the Association for Consumer Research found that if you feel like your partner gave
you a gift out of obligation, then that gift may make you feel less happy
with the relationship. You might also end up comparing your Valentine’s
Day gifts to the ones your friends or other coupled people got. Which brings us to another way the holiday
might damage relationships: comparisons. See, there’s a concept called interdependence
theory that says a person’s satisfaction in their relationship relies on two things: how their current relationship compares to
what they expect of their relationships in general, and how their partner compares to the currently
available alternatives. And if you see other couples giving better
gifts or doing more grandiose and romantic things on Valentine’s Day, well, that could raise your expectations of
relationships in general. Suddenly, your current relationship doesn’t
seem to measure up so well. But the worst part is that comparisons to
other couples can fall prey to a pernicious cognitive bias known as fundamental attribution
error. That’s when you attribute the actions of
others to inherent traits, but your own to circumstances. So you might think that duo you saw having
an extra romantic night did that because they have a fantastic relationship, while your own celebration was just because
it’s Valentine’s Day. Of course, those assumptions probably aren’t
true. Everyone else is following the same script
when it comes to February 14th. It’s just that when you see their perfect
selfies and amazing gifts, it’s all too easy to assume that their celebration
is more authentic than yours. And if that’s not bad enough, you might already be noticing the particulars of your relationship around Valentine’s Day, and how they do or don’t stack up, because
of a priming effect. See, studies suggest that when you’re surrounded
by commercials and storefronts and Twitter memes all devoted to love and
romance, you can’t help but think about love and
romance. For example, a 2009 study found the words
“cupid” and “flowers” popped into people’s heads more easily in
early February. And a 2017 study showed that people actually
raise their opinion of chocolates and flowers around Valentine’s Day. The thing is, thinking about romance and relationships
can tarnish how people view their partners. It may highlight and magnify existing issues,
for example. Though, this seems to somewhat depend on how
the person approaches romance more generally, something psychologists call attachment style. Attachment style is a measure of a person’s
attitude about relationships based on 2 dimensions: attachment-related avoidance and attachment-related
anxiety. People high in anxiety are less secure in
themselves and tend to see others as the solution, so they tend to be preoccupied with seeking
intimacy and support from their partners. Meanwhile, people high in avoidance are secure
in themselves but aren’t too trusting of support from others, so they tend to be less interested in intimacy
in general. And avoidance in particular seems to translate
to being less happy with partners. Like, a 2014 study found that people with avoidant attachment were less satisfied with their relationships. But here’s the kicker: that dissatisfaction
was magnified on Valentine’s Day. That wasn’t the case for people who were
low in avoidance, even if they scored high on attachment-related anxiety. In fact, the holiday-related reminders seemed
to boost how they felt about their partner. And that’s actually kind of a theme: Valentine’s
Day can hurt relationships, but it doesn’t hurt all of them equally. Mostly, it negatively affects ones that are
already on the rocks. Like, remember that statistic about people being 2.5 times more likely to break up around Valentine’s Day? It turns out relationships that were rated
as weak were nearly five times more likely to break up during the two weeks around Valentine’s
Day than stronger ones. Furthermore, if the relationship was already
strong or improving when Valentine’s Day came around, the holiday didn’t have a negative
effect. Something similar may be true for feelings
of obligation around gift giving. If you’re already not feeling great about
the relationship, preliminary research suggests you’re more likely to assume your partner
gave you a gift out of obligation. That makes you less likely to feel grateful
for the gift and, therefore, less satisfied in the relationship. And even comparisons to other couples aren’t
always bad. If you really believe your relationship is
better than others, then drawing comparisons might make you feel more satisfied with what
you’ve got. The big takeaway is that Valentine’s Day
isn’t a breakup instigator, it’s a catalyst. It doesn’t cause relationships to end all
by itself; it just gives a little push to the ones already
headed that way. So, if you’re happy, Valentine’s Day isn’t
likely to sour things. But if your relationship isn’t all that
great, it might speed you towards ending it. Which, if we’re being honest, could be for
the best. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
Psych! If you liked this episode, I have a feeling
you’ll enjoy our video on whether you really have a “type” and if it even matters. So maybe check that one out next! And if you’re really feeling the love, you can let us know by clicking that subscribe button and ringing the notification bell! [♪ OUTRO]

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100 Responses

  1. Rude & Triggered says:

    I'm gonna be the pretentious one, with this poem by Thomas Carew that I now know from having listened to Billy Boyd's band Beecake. Happy (Valentine's?) Day everybody!

    He that loves a rosy cheek,
    Or a coral lip admires,
    Or from star-like eyes doth seek
    Fuel to maintain his fires:
    As old Time makes these decay,
    So his flames must waste away.

    But a smooth and steadfast mind,
    Gentle thoughts, and calm desires,
    Hearts with equal love combined,
    Kindle never-dying fires:
    Where these are not, I despise
    Lovely cheeks or lips or eyes.

  2. Kenzie G says:

    Totally unrelated to the content of the video but I love this host!! Also Anthony is is really rocking that look 🙏

  3. Its Shatter says:

    I was enjoying my sub par relationship. Thanks a lot Valentines Day…

  4. daniel n. schabauer says:

    Your passiv agressiv reminder is here:
    Countdown: 3 days to go!

  5. Mleah says:

    Lol, I told to my bf, that we not gonna celebrate this "special day", couse it's forced and not special when you know that person will try couse of "special day", he basicly agreed to me.

  6. RockawayCCW says:

    Break up with her just before Christmas and then find a new girlfriend just after Valentine's. That way you don't have to waste money on gifts. Even better if her birthday falls between Christmas and Valentine's.

  7. Kirxas says:

    I love my girlfriend a lot, and we’re gonna have so much fun this valentine’s day. But maybe it could be a bit later, I want to gift her art, and I’m very behind schedule

  8. Ace RK says:

    lol perk of ldr is that i dont have to worry about this stuff. we'll still hang out and stuff but way less pressure on holidays.

  9. Hannah Ganske says:

    All I want for Valentine's day is for my husband to do dishes, make dinner, and for us to have some yummy dessert with our kids. You know things he should be helping me with everyday but doesn't

  10. Leo Lionhart says:

    First 2 minutes actually sum up pretty much some of the worst scenes I have witnessed//overheard…

    It’s Doomsday for Couples.

  11. Mishari ALharshan says:

    Where is my girl?

  12. Thomas Chow says:

    if you're truly in love then even mundane days can feel worth celebrating, if you're in a terrible relationship holidays can feel like torture

  13. Mishari ALharshan says:

    1:53

    Is not just about relationships

    Even if let say jobs or even the food you ate today

    You might expect something worst and you felt good than you open your Snapchat and see your BFF dinner and it looks more delicious than yours so you feel down

  14. MaxBrix says:

    Ancient religions used to believe in gods that demanded tribute for their love.

  15. Raven T says:

    My ex was so mad at me when I said I didn't believe in Valentine's day. It was a big deal to her, and I just didn't and still don't care about it.

  16. llamawalrushybrid says:

    Okay.. This touched on the "that's a good thing" part for like 3 seconds. That's mega clickbait.

  17. RETINA RENTAL says:

    4:20 ɴɪᴄᴇ ʜᴇᴀʀᴛs

  18. Not Dave says:

    Screw valentines day.

  19. Darla Day says:

    Yea, none if this applies if you don't let the media and other people effect your perception of what you want or need. Dinner and a movie is a great v day.

  20. MrWombatty says:

    I definitely won't be thinking much about St. Valentine's Day as I'm not in a relationship & I'm having spinal reconstruction today (12/2), followed by 5 days in ICU!

  21. lidette711 says:

    One Valentine's Day while I was at university, our Biology professor made a presentation about different STDs. He showed the class very graphic images and said, "just so you know, class, this is what you might be getting into today if you're not careful." A lot of people think about candy and flowers, but not about real-life ramifications of love or lust.

  22. Jinx Dragon says:

    There is a reason I prefer gift giving on random days, instead of specific days.
    I am one of those people who view my own traits as 'circumstantial,' so specific day gifts are a negative to me….

  23. Storm Boss says:

    Expectations only lead to disappointment

  24. K.T K says:

    Best part of valentines day is the post Valentine day candy sale

  25. Oddward says:

    I broke up with my shitty ex on our 3 year anniversary about 2 weeks after Valentine's day so… I don't care about Valentine's day, but I do care about lying and cheating.

  26. Leen Violite says:

    New face, who that?

  27. Learning and Growing says:

    My husband and I celebrated by buying discount chocolate the day after 😂

  28. Eadgyt Adba says:

    VOMIT Absolutely effin hate commercialized "holidays"… Almost hate this one as much as Xmas..
    If you need specific "holidays" to show love and compassion out of a consumer-based guilt, you're what's wrong with the world.

  29. Alyissa Aragon says:

    Valentine's Day is always fun for me. I must have a strong relationship. Haha suckers! JK I hope your relationships are just as great if not better than mine!

  30. Semmelein says:

    Where's the video about the "do we have a type" thing?

  31. SkyTheGameRS 12 says:

    Actually Coronavirus is on the air, go grab a facemask!!

  32. Felix Thecat says:

    Or you are single and seeing all these couples makes you want to hang yourself even more than you usually do.

  33. The match Kookie is holding in Spring Day says:

    I'm excited for Valentine's Day.❤️ Every year around this time my boyfriend and I have to study hard for all the exams, but on Valentine's Day it's just us doing cute couple things instead of studying. 😍

  34. stolenrelic says:

    I hate Valentine’s Day.

    I absolutely love my SO, though, and this is our first together, so this year might change my mind.

    He got us a trip to the La Brea Tar Pits and LACMA, and I got us Hamilton tickets, because we like to do things together more than we like material things.

    It’s nice to be on the same wavelength as someone like that when it comes to gifts.

  35. Sarafina Delirium says:

    We should just do away with Valentines Day. Because Valentines Day sucks. The end. Good video by the way.

  36. Sophie says:

    If people think they need to receive a gift instead of just spending time together then they are not ready for a relationship anyways

  37. Physics for Lisa says:

    Broke up with my gf of 4 years on the 2nd of this February. Can't help but feel like a statistic

  38. sdfkjgh says:

    I'm so lonely, my left palm is as soft as a cloud.

  39. Cal .W says:

    I’ve been single for 3 years and always feel funny/anxious in the days surrounding Valentine’s Day 🤔. I cant wait for those days to come and go ugh I can wait for that anxiety to go or at least ease up off my stomach

  40. sdfkjgh says:

    Couple of quick questions for everyone:

    1) Would you rather have a tangible holiday gift (some object), or an intangible one (an experience; exe: a picnic or a few rounds of bowling)?

    2) Would you rather your significant other rigidly follow the established calendar (Valentine's Day on Feb. 14th), or be more spontaneous by following an alien calendar (a Valentine's Day celebration on, say, August 31st) or no calendar at all (a Valentine's Day celebration "whenever they remember it actually being a thing"–could be November 4th, could be February 14th, could be February 29th on a non-leap year, could be on your birthday, etc….)?

  41. MrKruffles says:

    2:40 is it just me or does it look like the ASAPscience couple

  42. WebDeva7 says:

    Who is this new dude? When did he start?

  43. Lincoln Beckett-Scott says:

    It may be bad for relationships, but it's even worse for single people and all your friends are in relationships. Makes trying to treat February 14th like a normal day in the year kinda impossible.

  44. Michelle Ziems says:

    I love this host! He has such a great voice and style!

  45. angel whispers says:

    I guess that's why of the few relationships I've had that have made it to any Valentine's Day have always worked out at least in the short-term. Because my only expectation for Valentine's Day is pizza, tub of chocolate ice cream in the freezer and movie marathon on the couch. then Bargain chocolate 24 hours later. And if he wanted to pick me up some kind of cute plushie off the bargain Rack I wouldn't object. But even the plush toy wasn't really an expectation.

    I think it's all about managing expectations and having the capacity to truly not give a rat's ass what people around you are getting.

  46. voodoo fish says:

    I am the avoidant attachment type but I love celebrating Valentine’s Day bc it gives me an excuse to go all out on giving them presents and make a display of my love for them without it feeling awkward

  47. Tina Winslow says:

    The best thing about Valentine's Day is the holiday that comes directly after it: 75% OFF CHOCOLATE week 😀 <3 😀

  48. Tony Toons says:

    Everyone forgets the friendship part. We must make parties for singles.

  49. No Labels says:

    Avoidants are not secure in themselves. They only seem secure as compared to Anxious.

  50. Phillip w says:

    Pfft. Valentine's isn't going to make me love chocolate even more

  51. sixgun Dave says:

    You're new to me! Great hosting job 👍

  52. Sutar Sarfaraz says:

    Here I am, single still watching it 😅

  53. Maria Khan says:

    I don't believe in gifts, neither want my love to gift me something just because everyone else does. It's about growing up together, celebrating love in the most comfortable way, and being a team 💕

  54. Uriel238 says:

    In my thirties I had two relationships that broke up in succession around Valentines day. After the chocolate benders and crying jags, I researched online to find out that yes, this is a thing. It's normal for us during the relationship holiday to assess and audit the current relationship and reconsider whether or not it's right for us.

  55. Qs-ii says:

    My valentines day plans…

    Nap together, watch the Sonic Movie, eat some good old traditional ramen, and finish the day off with icecream.

  56. Tragic Heroes Official says:

    Ah yes, SAD. Singles Awareness Day

  57. Albertus VanLubeeck says:

    Alternatively, if you are bummed about valentine's day, you might want to start working on fixing your relationship.

  58. Nerobyrne says:

    if you feel bad about your relationship because other people got better gifts, you have issues way beyond which day of the year it is.
    Seriously.
    Get help.
    This isn't healthy.

  59. Little Things in Japan says:

    So in the end Valentine's day Japan version is not that bad hahaha…….it is basically all related to chocolate exchange 😜.

  60. fresh donkey says:

    What happened to the fat bubbly chick?

  61. Kyra Monteith says:

    I make it more for my kids and we bake and I give them little gifts

  62. Heidi Ah Sue says:

    As a mom of two young kids, I love valentine's day as an excuse to make a fun breakfast for my kids, get them each a small gift, and of course then actually go out for once with my husband instead of just watching a movie at home after the kids go to bed for date night.

  63. Jonathan Blind says:

    Dont watch this often. What happened to the overbearing red head

  64. Hege Valle says:

    laughs in AroAce so glad i dont have to deal with this!

  65. emery hurst says:

    I'm sticking with Iwo Jima remembrance day on February 19.

  66. Khushi says:

    thank you for your v informative and entertaining videos!! i love every one of them!!

  67. WrinkleinTime42 says:

    If we didn’t already have enough reason to take down hypercapitalism …

  68. Ana Raluca says:

    LOL, who even compares their relationship with that of someone elese's? V'day is just another kind of Christmas. We celebrate love, peace and nice things in life.

  69. VarianAlastair says:

    Thank you for consciously normalizing same-sex relationships, that means a lot

  70. K. Wolf says:

    I really loved the depiction of different types of couples in this video! Comforting that we can all be doomed in love 😂

  71. ArchersonofOdin says:

    If your that shallow in any relationships then it was never “Love” in those couples. This all sounds like Petty reasons to end a love affair. Which is a good thing because the long term and marriage would be hell.

  72. Amber Hawksong says:

    I just do it platoniclly since I have no romantic relationships.

  73. Peristeronic says:

    “I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,” said Darcy.

    “Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away,” [Elizabeth said.]
    –Pride and Prejudice

  74. QTeafunny says:

    But it has a positive effect on the economy.

  75. Rosalie Stevenson says:

    my valentine's plans involve writing valentines for every person in my building because a lot of them are older people and don't have anyone. nods
    So I bought a bunch of peanuts valentines and am taping caramel chocolate hearts to them.

  76. Tat Isls says:

    Lol we need to update it and better explain it but I het high expectations

    It can be fun period !!!

  77. Sarai Pope says:

    *monogamous relationships

  78. Sera the Educated Feline says:

    The best thing about Valentine’s Day is the day after when all the sweets, cuddly toys, and other gifts are discounted 💖

  79. Margaret F says:

    We don't do valentines day, we try be good to each other everyday instead.

  80. fairymairah says:

    The one Good thing is that Sonic The Hedgehog Movie is coming out !

  81. Ginny Jolly says:

    And we train up our children in this: we encourage our kids to give valentines to their classmates, year after year until about Junior High, when boy – girl relationships start to bud.
    And then valentines are expected to be exchanged between them but not to the entire class, and certainly not in order to promote friendships. And thus, friend-zoning is born. And the devastation of it among most of the kids in all school classes.

    We need to change this. Personally I'd like to see Valentine's Day be dedicated to strengthening friendships and leave romance to other social cues.

  82. TechnoGolem says:

    Years ago I got engaged near X-Mas and was dumped on Valentine's Day. Pretty much detested the day ever since, even when I was in new relationship.

  83. Chris Godas says:

    The lack of subtle background music is vaguely unsettling

  84. TheSixFootSixExperience says:

    This vid made me send a text I’ve been trying to send for the last two weeks…

  85. ARTEMISIA 999 says:

    I just want to PUNCH everyone who shows off on THIS DAY….It is So Annoying😠…I mean as if Love will be Only showed on V-Day by those who are involved in Arguing and silly/serious fighting the entire year.
    😬

  86. VicSoh says:

    If a relationship is shaken merely by a gift, then that relationship isn't worth at all in the first place.

  87. hang da clown says:

    my gf and I can't recall the exact date we met and/or started dating so we recently decided to celebrate our anniversary just a week after valentine's day, thereby incentivising waiting for the valentine's discounts as stores try to get rid of the leftover stock to make room for more junk

  88. Heaven & Earth says:

    Valentine's Day & Marriage Annivesary both are brings pain in life..

  89. Grimmjow Jaggerjack says:

    Half-priced candy day is the best holiday and it comes around several times a year.

  90. Shetasen says:

    Valentine's day.
    Me: I lets get pizza lots of garlic bread and chocolate.
    SO: yes.

  91. melvin Y says:

    Guess I ‘heading for the best’ 😢

  92. Kay L. says:

    My husband litteraly do the opposite of what is expected on valintines day. We go exploit all of those burn youre ex free food deals. We don't even sit together. We eat while trying not to acknowledge eachother in the restaurant so we don't get caught. It feels sneaky and brings us close together. It's fun and it gives us something to laugh about.

  93. tj says:

    Valentine’s Day is a marketing holiday where big companies make big bucks.

  94. Mike, from Texas says:

    People feel obligated to be lovey-dovey…?
    What??? 😂

  95. Barbara B says:

    This is why on Valentines Day I’m going to spend it with friends and watch horror movies. I’m happily single too. It’s supposed to be about the celebration of love not just an obligation to give gifts. Give a gift to your partner because you want to, not because you have to.

  96. infinitecanadian says:

    Valentine’s Day isn’t a holiday.

  97. Drevin Williams says:

    Wooh! They must’ve seen my comment Bc he is back and 🤤😩

  98. Alexandra Ledesman says:

    In summary, Valentine's Day makes it harder to for people to ignore problems that already exist in their romantic relationships.

  99. SnakeladyGreta says:

    My bf and I are having a romantic trip to the dentist together.
    ❤️😁😁❤️

  100. Juliano A.J. says:

    Every year i forgot that Valentine's day is a thing.

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