It’s Nearly Valentine’s Day So We’ve got the Numbers (ain’t we romantic?)

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day and here at the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll we’re feeling a little giddy. Some of us are in very long term relationships, while others are at the beginning, but one thing is clear. Like most of our fellow New Jerseyans, we’re looking forward to the day with a sense of excitement, and maybe, for some of us, a little dread. So to start off our next round of Rutgers-Eagleton Poll press releases, we present something different from our usual politics and policy: LOVE! For the first time in over a decade, we polled New Jerseyans on Valentine’s plans, and we found that just as in 2004, seven-in-ten of our fellow Garden Staters have a Valentine this year.

We will return you to our usual barrage of politics in a day or two, but for now, sit back and let cupid do his stuff.

Full text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release with text, questions, and tables.

VALENTINE’S DAY: LOVE IS IN THE AIR FOR MOST NEW JERSEYANS

More excitement than dread about the big day of romance, Rutgers-Eagleton ‘Cupids’ find

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Despite the snowy forecast, love is in the air in the Garden State as 70 percent of residents will “be mine” with a special someone this Valentine’s Day, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Cupid’s arrow is apparently consistent; the share of residents with a valentine has changed little since Eagleton last explored feelings about the holiday more than a decade ago. Among those with a valentine, seven in ten plan to celebrate this year.

Traditional tokens of affection are the top choices when it comes to the wide range of gifts valentines would like to receive. Chocolate, candy, and other food items are the top choice (at 11 percent), followed by jewelry (at 8 percent). Receiving a card, spending time together, flowers, affection, and dinner are also up on the list (each at 7 percent).

Forty-four percent of New Jerseyans – regardless of whether or not they have a valentine – are excited for the romantic holiday, while just 16 percent say V-Day makes them feel more dread than excitement; four in ten don’t have a feeling either way.

“When it comes to Valentine’s Day, New Jerseyans mostly resemble the rest of the country, but with a few key differences,” said Ashley Koning, manager of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. “Compared to recent national polls, the hopeless romantics here are more likely to plan special celebrations. Yet as a whole, Garden Staters are more neutral about the holiday – feeling neither any significant excitement nor dread about a day typically associated with both romance and pressure and expense.”

Results are from a statewide poll of 813 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Feb. 3-10, 2015, with a margin of error of +/-4.1 percentage points. Interviews were done in both English and, when requested, Spanish.

Men more likely to dread the day; women more excited

Reinforcing traditional gender roles, men are more likely to feel the heat when it comes to Valentine’s Day; 22 percent feel dread versus just 10 percent of women. Half of women, on the other hand, are excited about the holiday, compared to just 39 percent of men.

“Men arguably face more pressure in planning the perfect Valentine’s Day for their sweethearts, so it’s no wonder they are more likely to have some dread about the holiday,” said Koning. “With such decisions as picking the perfect flowers or piece of jewelry, Valentine’s Day has the potential for causing a certain amount of stress.”

Despite these differences in anticipation, men and women are similarly likely to have a valentine and to plan on celebrating in a special way. Gift preferences, however, differ. Men would most like to receive chocolate, with a card or note coming in second, and time together or affection tying for third. Jewelry tops the list among women, followed by flowers, and then some type of edible treat.

A holiday for different ages in different ways

Excitement in anticipation of Valentine’s Day does not vary greatly by age, but younger to middle-aged New Jerseyans are twice as likely to feel dread compared to 40-64 year olds and more than four times as likely as those 65 and over. Yet this sense of pressure does not appear to stem from differences in planning a special celebration for the day; about seven in ten residents of all ages plan to do so.

The youngest and oldest Garden Staters are both less likely to have a valentine than middle-aged respondents, however. Sixty-seven percent of 18-39 year olds have a special someone for the romantic holiday, similar to what residents 65 years and older report (at 61 percent). New Jerseyans 40 to 64 years old are the most likely to have a valentine, at 77 percent. This is presumably a natural consequence of the life cycle, Koning noted, as those who are in the middle age bracket are more likely to be settled down and married with permanent valentines.

While about one in ten romantics of all ages favor chocolates or other edibles as their number one gift choice, other desired gifts vary by age group. 18-39 year olds also prefer flowers, jewelry, and affection, while 40-64 year olds additionally desire a card or jewelry. Senior citizens uniquely mention most wanting some kind of attention as their Valentine’s Day gift: 14 percent say they would like to spend time or have a visit or conversation with someone, and another 10 percent desire a nice meal.

Romance changes with marriage, length of relationship

Not surprisingly, New Jerseyans who are currently married are more likely than others to say they have a valentine but marital status does not seem to affect plans to celebrate with one’s valentine. Gift preferences are a different story: unmarried valentines prefer chocolates or other sweets, as well as some expression of affection, over other gift options, while married valentines are equally likely to prefer chocolates or a card.

The length of a marriage or committed relationship also reveals some interesting Valentine’s Day patterns. New Jerseyans in newer relationships –from one to 10 years – are the most likely to get into the Valentine’s Day spirit and say they have a valentine. They are also slightly more likely to feel both excitement and dread about the holiday than most others.

Residents in 11 to 25-year relationships show a slump in holiday excitement and are less inclined to celebrate compared to other committed individuals. This group is also far more likely to call a card or jewelry their ideal gift. Chocolate is the top choice for those in newer relationships – but a nice meal does the trick for those in relationships lasting more than 25 years.

“The bloom, as they say, isn’t necessarily off the rose for good for lasting relationships,” Koning said. “Instead, romance seems to renew after a few decades together, with individuals committed for more than 20 years looking much like those in newfound love. But whether new or old, love will certainly be flourishing this weekend in the Garden State.”

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