May 19, 2019

Rethinking Love on Valentine's Day

“Nine out of 10 Americans will celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. We will spend an average of $143, up from $135 last year. Even the few of us who don’t celebrate might go to an anti-Valentine’s Day restaurant to enjoy the “break-up” menu or buy ourselves something to show our #selflove.

All this romantic consumption will bring us to a near-record $19.6 billion on chocolates and greeting cards and the like on February 14, despite the longest government shutdown on record and a cooling global economy.

Why are we spending money we don’t have on images of cute but armed cherubs and expensive dinners out? The answer is both complicated and surprisingly simple: We think true love will make our futures safe and secure.

Since the beginning of the American nation, our sense of self has been tightly tied to romantic love. That’s why in 1857 President James Buchanan sent troops to Utah to destroy polygamy and it’s why there are still over a thousand federal rights and privileges granted to married people even as a majority of Americans are unmarried.”

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