Rego: Why Valentine’s Day ruining relationships really matters

Shay Rego

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in the following column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the views of The Collegian or its editorial board.

Valentine’s Day has a way of defining a relationship for better or for worse. Instead of a fantastical day sure to enhance your relationship, Valentine’s Day can actually ruin relationships just as well. 


Bentley University reports our generation having a low marriage rate; the median age of marriage for women and men has increased to 27 and 29, respectively, since 1960. We have been influenced by social media and movies to believe these preconceived notions about what love and romance are supposed to be. It’s important to recognize our generations relationship weaknesses so we may avoid also having a high divorce rate like our parent’s generation, according to a 2016 analysis by the University of Maryland.

Facebook tracks people’s breakup statuses and has found a trend where couples are most likely to break up: the time around Valentine’s Day. It seems incomprehensible that a holiday devoted to enhancing love and relationships could lead to so much heartbreak. There seem to be a few factors which play into this trend of increased breakups during this time of year.

To avoid Valentine’s Day disaster, I recommend having an open dialogue with your partner about how you would both like the holiday to spent…

One large cause for these breakups is high relationship expectations and the stress that comes with it.

This holiday rules in high expectations. People expect their partners to surprise them with a fancy dinner, lavish gifts or some other romantic commodity. However, setting such high expectations can lead to disappointment for both parties.

A study done by the American Psychology Association shows that spouses who entered into relationships with positive expectations but received little from the relationship in light of their expectations experienced a decline in satisfaction.

There is also the stress associated with trying to fulfill your partner’s high expectations. The average person spends $136.57 on Valentine’s Day, according to a 2017 ABC News report. 

For students or young adults on a budget, it is highly unlikely a partner can spend a lot of money for one day. Not having the money to fulfill these expectations can itself be stressful. What matters is the person, not the present.

Another instigator of the Valentine’s Day breakup is relationship comparing. Valentine’s Day just seems like another contest for couples to brag about on social media; my boyfriend did this, my girlfriend got me that, and so the comparisons rage on.

This sort of comparison is known as the “instigator hypothesis.” Partners may be disappointed by what their spouse has procured for their Valentine’s Day in relation to what another relationship has done.

This type of comparative behavior can overall be toxic to the relationship. A disappointment in the partner’s efforts may make the other spouse feel inferior to your approval.


Every relationship is different from another. It’s not fair to yourself or the relationship to compare it to someone else’s seemingly perfect Valentine’s Day..

This day dedicated to love may seem like the perfect occasion for some sweet lovemaking, but sexual obligation may just be another reason for holiday breakups.

Just because it is the day of love and partners tend to spoil one another with expensive gifts does not mean anyone is obligated to return the favor with sex. A partner’s dismissal of wanting sex on this day can spark some disgruntled agitation from the other spouse.

Sex is not a prize to be won or bought but something to be earned and cherished. Yet, sexual frustration from being denied sex on this unconventionally sexy holiday may be another factor for breakups during this time.

To avoid Valentine’s Day disaster, I recommend having an honest, open dialogue with your partner about how you would both like the holiday to be spent so as to avoid confusion.

Instead of giving particular attention to one single day show them love every day. Do not allow external perceptions to determine the value of your relationship, change how we perceive and show love.

Shay Rego can be reached at or on Twitter at @shay_rego.