I dread February 14th. When people have plans with their partners, I feel uncelebrated. How should I deal with my Valentine’s Day distress?
Dear Burdened Bachelorette,
Being single need not be a negative experience.
In China, on November 11th, people who are unmarried celebrate each other during Singles Day. On that day, praising those who don’t have a significant other and allowing everyone to feel appreciated have become social norms. In turn, the market’s norm for that day encourages gift buying to include both singles and couples.
Maybe we should take a hint from China. Yes, on Valentine’s Day, our social norms focus on relationships and our market behavior targets significant others. But behavioral economists would tell you that the social and market norms that are set by society can be changed. You could get together with a group of friends or colleagues and celebrate each other. Exchange small gifts and cards. Who said a box of chocolates is only for a romantic partner.
Even if you do not have a partner this upcoming Valentine’s Day, take the time to celebrate the other great people in your life. If you don’t like our social and market norms, you can start to change them.
(h/t to economist Dan Ariely for providing the economic information on social and market norms.)