React when You Do Not Receive a Gift for Valentine's Day

If you're in a romantic relationship, it's not unusual to expect a Valentine's Day gift from your significant other. In fact, one survey found that roughly half of women would break up with their partners over not receiving a gift on that special day.[1] However, such a reaction is probably a little overdramatic. If you're feeling disappointed on Valentine's Day, do your best to keep your cool and talk things out with your partner.


Waiting it Out

  1. Avoid high expectations. You may love to hear about grand romantic gestures, but unless your partner is a millionaire it's a little silly to expect them. In fact, the average person spends only about $142 on Valentine's Day gifts. This may sound like a lot, but keep in mind how averages work. For every wealthy individual who buys a lover an expensive sports car, thousands of others may only go with a $10 box of chocolates or a cheap bottle of wine.[2]
  2. Try not to react at all until at least after dinner. Many people wait to surprise their significant others with a gift in the evening. This is especially important to remember if you and your partner don't live together. Don't jump to conclusions if you wake up and don't find a bouquet at your door.
  3. Go about your day as normally as possible. Moping around is the worst thing you can do. If you are seriously upset, try your best to pretend it's not Valentine's Day at all. Unlike most major holidays, Valentine's Day is relatively easy to ignore. Try not to listen to the radio or watch television; advertisements and talk show chatter will probably be Valentine's Day-oriented.
  4. Steer clear of jealousy. If you work on Valentine's Day, you may see coworkers with flowers or chocolates. Don't be jealous of them. You have no idea what their relationships may really be like. Flashy displays of affection through monetary goods don't reflect how someone truly feels. Try your best to remember all the times where your partner has shown you love.
  5. Give your gift. Surprise your partner with a gift when you were originally planning to do so. Withholding a gift because you expect one yourself is petty. Your partner may have actually gotten something for you after all but was unsure of the right time to exchange gifts.

Understanding Why

  1. Remember any life events that may have made it difficult for your partner to shop. Even in the age of Internet shopping and free shipping, sometimes things can get away from us. Don't expect too much if your significant other's parent passed away the week before.
    • For anxious perfectionists, shopping for the right gift can take a lot of time and effort. Your partner may have had to deal with an unexpected deadline at work and had to temporarily put everything else on hold. Just be sure to let them know how you feel if you're disappointed.[3]
  2. Think about your conversations from the last few weeks. At any point, did either of you mention anything about disliking Valentine's Day or not wanting a gift?
    • Some people feel obligated to say that they don't want a gift when they actually expect one to avoid seeming shallow or greedy. If you expressed this, your significant other may have taken your words at face value. Work on communicating your desires more honestly.
    • Your partner may have had a negative or traumatic experience associated with Valentine's Day and may feel uncomfortable celebrating it. If you consider your relationship close, ask about what happened and if there's anything you can do to help the healing process.
  3. Ask if your partner knows what today is. If your partner doesn't realize it's Valentine's Day, there is absolutely no reason to get upset.
    • Some people are just very forgetful about dates. If your partner apologizes and offers to make it up to you soon, accept the offer gracefully.
    • Others may be new to dating and are unsure about the gift-giving etiquette that surrounds the holiday. If you are more experienced, explain the unwritten rules to your significant other. This may be a good opportunity for you each to define how serious you think the relationship may be.[4]
    • Your partner may be from another country and doesn't even know what Valentine's Day is. Many cultures celebrate Valentine's Day in very different ways, and some don't observe it at all. If that's the case, simply explain to your significant other the importance of this holiday to you. Suggest to celebrate and exchange gifts on a certain day at least a week or two away.[5]
  4. Consider your relationship status. If you just had your first date on February 12, don't expect your new partner to surprise you with a bouquet of roses. Conversely, if you've been together for years, it's not unusual to skip Valentine's Day. On average, married couples spend significantly less on their partners than couples who are dating.[2]
    • If you're upset about a missed Valentine's Day and your partner doesn't appear concerned or apologetic, this can be a bad sign. This is especially true if your significant other even goes so far as to tease or admonish you for caring about the holiday. While Valentine's Day may have become a marketing gimmick, you have every right to enjoy the holiday. When one partner invalidates another's feelings, their relationship may be unhealthy.[6]
  5. Explain your feelings to your partner. Tell your partner that you enjoy celebrating Valentine's Day and were hoping for a gift. Suggest the possibility of an alternative "Valentine's Day" just for the two of you.
    • Be sure to use "I-statements" while discussing the subject. I-statements usually begin with "I feel" and go on to explain your emotions. In conflict resolution theory, I-statements allow you to express emotions caused by another's actions (or inactions) without blame. An example I-statement for this situation would be: "I feel a little disappointed that I didn't receive a Valentine's Day gift from you this year."
    • Remember to reaffirm that you care about your partner. Be clear that while you may be disappointed, your relationship isn't in jeopardy.[7]
    • Don't have this conversation while angry. If this experience has seriously upset you, calm yourself first by going for a walk or sleeping on it.[8]
    • Tell your partner what kind of gifts you like. There is nothing wrong with asking for what you want, and it's an important part of honest communication.[9] Some people have very particular tastes or don't like receiving gifts. Don't force your significant other to read your mind.


  • It's ok to be miffed about not getting you anything for Valentine's Day, even if your partner has a reasonable excuse.
  • Treat yourself to a little something to make up for the disappointment. If you're a chocolate fan, take advantage of the February 15 sales!
  • If you're a woman and your partner is a man, let go of old-fashioned social rules when it comes to Valentine's Day. Many women expect to receive a gift without giving anything themselves.[10] If you're upset that your partner didn't get you anything while at the same time you neglected to reciprocate, think about how hypocritical your reaction may be!

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