Say goodbye to chocolate, roses and romantic cards, and say hello to tears, slammed doors and broken hearts.
The covers of glossy magazines and the good folks at Hallmark believe that, come Valentine's Day, we get all hot and bothered about romance and relationships. But it seems an increasing number of couples are using the holiday as a springboard to evaluate their love lives. And instead of making up or making out, some couples are breaking up and moving out.
"If you're going to be looking across the table at someone with candlelight and flowers, you ask yourself, 'do I want to skip this whole experience rather than do it with someone I'm not really committed to?'" asked Anna Zornosa, vice president of Yahoo! personals.
A new Yahoo! survey found that between the December holidays and Valentine's Day, people are more than twice as likely to consider breaking up than any other time of the year.
Some daters just don't want to fake the romance any longer.
Melissa, who asked that her last name not be used, is a 26-year-old woman who works in public relations. She lives in Danville, Calif. She said she experienced the Valentine's Day jitters firsthand. After meeting a guy last October, the romance picked up quickly. They had an "instant connection," she said. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas flew by, and they were together through it all.
But when the parties came to an end, so too did their lust for each other.
"Right after New Year's, everything kind of came to a halt," said Melissa. Not only did they lack common interests, she said, but they also held different views on pretty much everything.
Zornosa said that throughout December, daters in doubt really try "to hold on." They've already invested in gifts, invited their partners to the work holiday party and secured New Year's Eve plans. There's a "huge impetus," she said, "to give the relationship the benefit of doubt."
Then New Year's Day hits, and the real doubt starts trickling in.
Four out of 10 survey participants, who were members of the Yahoo! personals site, admitted splitting with their partner during the short period between the holidays and Valentine's Day.
Kim Roth, founder of ShouldIDumpHimOrNot.com, said that over the last month she has seen a flurry of posts from women contemplating their relationships on her Web site, which offers a place for posting dating dilemmas. Other members then weigh in with their opinions and experiences, and vote whether to dump the guy or not.
According to the Yahoo! survey, relationship anxieties are most often triggered by two factors: not having a shared view of the future with a partner, or simply feeling unfulfilled. Nearly 47 percent of respondents on the East Coast blame their breakup on feeling like they're in a relationship lull, compared with 35 percent of people on the West Coast, for example.
No matter what the reason for the split, though, Valentine's Day puts an added pressure on some lovebirds.
"If you celebrate it, then you're pretty much solidifying the relationship," Melissa said. "If you don't celebrate it, then you're kind of saying, 'I'm not that into you.'"
From flowers to dinner reservations, the gifts and events associated with Valentine's Day come with a lot of expectations.