Valentine’s Day: Love it? Hate it? Indifferent?

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In these cynical times do you love, hate, or remain indifferent to the "holiday of love"?

Valentine Mixed Tape

Photo: Ani-Bee from Flikr

A mixed tape for Valentine's Day

Like many, I have had a roller coaster relationship with Valentine’s Day over the years. One year, I happily watched Silence of the Lambs and ate junk food with a similarly single girlfriend. Another year I went on a flower-filled romantic dinner date. Some of the years in between were spent stressing over what to get a partner or stressing over not having one.

Those days of stress are long gone from my life. At this point, I’m far less concerned with my plans on Valentine’s Day and far more concerned with the array of research questions that this day of love, romance, and sex brings to my attention.

The Modern Valentine’s Day

Often referred to as a “Hallmark Holiday”, the meaning of Valentine’s Day has certainly changed over time. Even over the course of my short life, Valentine’s Day has evolved in its meaning. In much younger days (~ grades 1 through 6), it was a day when I made sure I was armed with paper valentines to distribute to everyone in my homeroom class. During pre-teen and teen years, Valentine’s Day became a pretty big deal (like everything else during that stage of life). A mixed tape with a box of chocolates was a fairly typical exchange and not having a “date” seemed to be the end of the world. Now, in my 20s, I am one of those people who has become fairly indifferent to the holiday. However, I hear mixed reviews from friends, family, and colleagues when it comes to the meaning of Valentine’s Day. Some love it, some hate it, and some, like myself, remain indifferent.

Love it or hate it…here are some ideas

If you are one of those people who feels the pressure of Valentine’s Day, no need to stress, you still have a few days to prepare! Plenty of time to get something together to impress your Valentine and express your lust or love. Here are some ideas:

  • Sex toys: The gift that truly keeps on giving this Valentine’s Day. If you are a beginner, check out this KC post to inform yourself on the ins and outs of buying sex toys.
  • Homemade gifts: Showing that you’ve put some thought into a gift will often go a long way. A crafty card, a picture frame or album of memories, or a book of romantic poems (depending on your romance overload threshold of course) can all be inexpensive ways to show that you care in a relatively short period of prep time.
  • Cook together: Rather than fighting the crowds at the best restaurant in town, why not cook together? Make an event of the whole process. Spend more time together by choosing the meal you want to have, going grocery shopping for ingredients, then preparing and eating the meal with the company of your Valentine. At the end of the evening, you could make homemade chocolate covered strawberries together for dessert.
  • Adventurous scavenger hunt: This may take a little more planning, but you do have a few days, so use them wisely. Place hints throughout your home or even throughout the city you live in (providing that is possible) for your mate to follow that leads them to you or to a special surprise.

Festive activities…with or without a Valentine

There are two things that I do love about Valentine’s Day. The first are cinnamon hearts – what could be better? They are hot, you can have a competition with yourself to see how many you can fit in your mouth at a time, and they only come out once a year making them all the more desirable. The second is The Vagina Monologues, which is a provocative production that takes the world by storm around the Valentine’s Day holiday. Check out this website to see when a showing takes place near you!

Also, the Kinsey Institute Gallery is currently showing Private Eyes, featuring amateur art from now until April 8th. The erotic art, in addition to the display of erotic homemade valentines are sure to impress!

Regardless of what this Valentine’s Day brings for you, I hope it meets all of your expectations, however simple or complex they may be. I’ll be busy playing the role of the sex researcher, trying to decode the modern meaning of this day of love…

Kristen Mark, PhD, MPH

completed her PhD in Health Behavior and her MPH in Biostatistics, both at Indiana University. Kristen is an Assistant Professor in Health Promotion at University of Kentucky. Kristen's research focuses on sexual pleasure, sexuality in long term relationships, sexual function, and women's sexuality.
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