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Did You Forget the Chocolates? What Message Are You Communicating to Your Valentine?

A UC communication and etiquette expert examines this day for lovers in the fast-paced, hi-tech world we live in.

Date: 2/6/2014 11:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823

UC ingot   If you’re tweeting “I love you” to someone special this Valentine’s Day and you think that’s enough said, you might just get deleted.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

The Greeting Card Association estimates more than 145 million Valentine’s Day cards will be purchased nationally this year, holding strong with what Americans purchased in 2013.

In fact, in an ever-growing age of electronic communications, the Greeting Card Association reports that Valentine’s Day is the nation’s second-largest holiday for giving greeting cards, second only to the Christmas holiday.

Valentine’s Day is a centuries-old tradition around the world, with origins linked to saints and martyrs, a pagan holiday and, in the Middle Ages, the beginnings of romance communicated through homemade Valentine cards.

LisaMarie Luccioni, a University of Cincinnati adjunct professor of communication and etiquette expert, shares some insights as to how people are communicating to their Valentines in this modern age, and what message they may unknowingly be communicating:

“I believe that at the end of the day, any message of love, appreciation or acknowledgement is always appreciated. Of course, the communication channel that’s used can convey different meanings. An e-mail, tweet or blog post is more informal, although more public. The card with your signed message and name is more personal. Handwritten notes also symbolize an investment of time. Someone selected and purchased the card, and customized their sentiments just for you.

LisaMarie Luccioni (Cindy Dover photography)
LisaMarie Luccioni (Cindy Dover photography)

“The handwritten medium is powerful because it’s unexpected and no longer the classic norm. Fewer people communicate this way, so when we do, it’s memorable, and I’d argue more impactful. Electronic communication is a nice option, but a handwritten note is more intimate. Many of our mailboxes nowadays contain mostly bills and ads. That handwritten note doesn’t seek money or consideration. Indeed, its purpose is to express positive sentiment for your existence here. Its discovery makes the clouds part and the sun shine!”

What might be considered popular Valentine communications today?

“I conducted research on what people plan for Valentine’s Day in Cincinnati. Some people opt for the more traditional pattern of sending flowers, cards and chocolates. Others seek creative and unique outlets, turning to their communities on social media for ideas.

“Carefully consider your approach to Valentine’s Day. Effective communication is about shared meaning, so carefully consider how to best achieve message transmission. While this sounds the opposite of romance, it’s some of the best advice this communication professor can offer our readers!

“A simple way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is wearing red on Feb. 14. In the ‘80s, the diamond industry began promoting Valentine’s Day as an occasion for giving jewelry. The research reveals  it’s not just about love and romance, but also profit. There’s even encouragement to be a Valentine to yourself – ‘Buy your own gift, buy your own diamond, be your own Valentine.’”

A Rose is a Rose…Can a simple gift become just as impressive as an all out expense?

“If you are a new and young couple, be wary of getting swept away by gifts. Focus instead on forming bonds of friendship and trust, ensuring your value systems and future goals align.

“The Greeting Card Association reports that half of Valentine cards that are purchased are given to family members other than husband and wife, and usually to children. Every Valentine’s Day, my dad gives me a box of chocolates and it makes me feel loved and recognized.

“Consider the meaning of the gift. There’s a difference between sending red roses or yellow roses. Why? Because the color of the rose conveys different messages. There’s a difference between sending red roses and a potted plant. There’s a difference between sending a dozen roses versus a single rose – they can all send different messages.

“Then, there are other visual forms of expression for Valentine’s Day – a homemade craft or gift, or simply saying ‘I love you,’ and making eye contact when it’s said!”

Is romance, dating still alive in a hi-tech age?

“The figures I found report that the total number of single adults in the U.S. are 54,250,000. Of that number, the total number of people who reported trying online dating was 41,250,000, and men outnumber women who have tried online dating.

“When I looked for the annual revenue of online dating, it was $1.24 billion! Love, apparently, can be a connection and a money-making industry – perhaps a great capitalistic opportunity, if you can’t find a demographic that fits your capacity. No dating website for your particular population segment? Exercise those entrepreneurial aspirations and get moving.”

So, at the end of the (Valentine’s) Day…

“In a world where negative news seemingly dominates a never-ending news cycle, Valentine’s Day can be a refreshing acknowledgement of love, optimism and affection. People love good news, and Valentine’s Day gives us an opportunity to offer good news!”