If you’re in a new relationship, Valentine’s Day can be more of a source of anxiety than anything else. Are you going to spend February 14 with someone you’ve been on five dates with or pretend like the holiday isn't happening? Are you going to shell out for a fancy dinner or see if your cooking skills are enough to impress them? Do you get them a gift? If so, how much do you spend? Do you choose something romantic, like a piece of jewelry, or silly, like their favorite candy bar?
Well, now there’s something new to worry about: valentighting. This dating trend describes the phenomenon of people dumping their partners in early February so they don’t have to spend money on V-Day.
The term was coined by Metro UK writer Ellen Scott last year. She defined it as, “the heartbreaking act of dumping someone right before Valentine’s Day, because you’re too tight to get them a gift, write a card, or make any kind of fuss. Get it? Valentine’s Day plus being too much of a tightwad to buy a gift. Valentighting.”
It’s not just about the cash, though — it’s more that the looming pressure of Valentine’s Day makes someone realize they just don’t like their new S.O. enough to put the effort into the holiday. “A valentighter may not be entirely committed to a relationship, but it takes the expectation of Valentine’s Day to make them realize it’s time to end things,” Scott wrote.
Data shows that breakups tend to spike around February 14. In 2014, information designers David McCandless and Lee Byron analyzed Facebook relationship status changes and found that splits began steadily increasing in January after a low during the winter holidays. They discovered early February separations were much more common than January ones, though the yearly highs came in March and in November and early December (aka, the "Turkey Drop").
Worth pointing out: If you’re interested in the person you’ve recently started to date, but you don’t feel ready for a big V-Day celebration, you don’t have to break up. Instead, communicate your expectations with your new partner. That's right — talk about it.
Joy Harden Bradford, PhD, a licensed psychologist and owner of Therapy For Black Girls, previously told Refinery29 that you should start a convo about how you feel about the holiday. Say something like, “I know we just started dating, but Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays, and I want to talk about how we'll celebrate.” Or, "Valentine's Day is coming up and I've never been super into it, but I want to know if it's important to you."
Generally, in a new relationship, it's a good idea to choose a small gift that doesn't break the bank. “With a one-month partner, how much can you expect? Mark the day and acknowledge that we’re in this new liking relationship," Dr. Bradford said. "It doesn’t have to be extravagant." Instead of diamonds or an expensive tasting menu, she suggested a funny card, a small bouquet, or homemade cookies. For a cute V-Day date, you could even bake them together.