What Do We Really Want on Valentine's Day?

Cue the candy, the cards, the flowers, the chocolate — but wait, is that really what women want on Valentine's Day? And how about men — are they just doing it to please us, or are they into the holiday hoopla, too? There's no question that Valentine's Day has become pressure-filled for both couples and singles alike, says Logan Levkoff, MS, a sexologist and relationship expert. "Those red heart and chocolate gift boxes do make us anxious to find romance—even when we're content with being single."

It's an all-out scramble for Valentine's Day plans — lest we feel like being the sole lame duck sitting home dateless on the national night of romance (thanks, Hallmark!). Single girls go out in groups; guys even meet up with friends for drinks to avoid the "solo on Valentine's Day" stigma. But according to Levkoff, spending the night with pals is actually a healthy way for singles to respond to the pressure. "Hanging out with friends is always better than being on a date with someone you aren't interested in," she says.

Fair enough. But how do couples get sucked into the stress, as well, when they already have somebody special? For women, it's simple: "We spend so much time taking care of everyone else's needs. Valentine's Day is the one day where we know it's just about us," says Levkoff. Plus, the real world is romance-starved; even basic common courtesy and chivalry can seem like endangered species in modern society. Many women are still raised on fairytales that lead us to believe that there are princes out there who are supposed to treat us like princesses, but most men aren't exactly riding around on white horses ready to sweep us off our feet — even if they have already put a ring on our finger.

So, does that mean men dread Valentine's Day? Far from it! "Some surveys are showing that men are making a bigger deal out of it these days. Think about it, it's the one opportunity for them to be romantic and affectionate. Women understand that we don't need one day to do that," explains Levkoff. So — surprise! Most guys really do enjoy showering you with gifts and expressing their innermost emotions (but unfortunately many need a holiday to get it out of them).

So if you're a woman who wants flowers on your desk and teddy bears at your door, you probably love Valentine's Day, and your guy probably loves knowing exactly what to do to please you (if only for 24 hours!). But if money's tight, the babysitter's busy or you both just feel overwhelmed, remember: "It's the little things that count," says Levkoff. "Remember how we used to make mix tapes for our boyfriends or girlfriends when we were teens?" suggests Levkoff, "Imagine how delighted you would be if your guy took the time to make a CD or an iPod playlist just for you!" When it comes to pleasing him on Valentine's Day, Levkoff firmly believes that what most men really want is a little extra kindness to reinforce your bond. "Men like thoughtful gifts, too" she says, "But of course, a little sex doesn't hurt."

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