We’ve come to know Valentine’s Day as a celebration of love and romance — one that’s widely marketed and sold to us in the form of roses, chocolates, and bad prix-fixe dinners. For better or for worse, the holiday has also become a defining marker of our relationships and sex lives. And we have mixed feelings about that.
At LOLA, we’re big believers in putting our bodies first and doing what feels good to us, regardless of societal pressures and holiday marketing. So, this year, we invited our community to take our anonymous #OnMyTerms survey and tell us what Valentine’s Day — and sex, pleasure, and romance — really mean to them.
Here’s what we found…
We got an overwhelming number of responses from 3,570 women across the country, and even some international friends. The feedback from our community was loud and clear, confirming what we already know to be true: that sex, pleasure, and romance are not defined by what you do (or don’t do) on February 14. It’s the private, intimate moments of daily life that make us feel sexy and loved.
• 71% of people who responded to our survey are in a relationship, 21% are single, 7% are not officially in a relationship, and 1% did not specify.
• 35% of respondents said they are “over” Valentine’s Day, 27% said they love it, 28% said it’s fun when you’re in a relationship, and 27% said they celebrate the Leslie Knope-termed Galentine’s Day.
• 51% of respondents said they wished Valentine’s Day had more focus on celebrating meaningful connections. Another 27% said they wished there was less focus on material gifts, 11% said they wished there was less focus on relationship status, 6% said they wouldn’t change a thing about the holiday, and 5% wrote another response.
• 55% of respondents said they felt more pressure to perform around Valentine’s Day than on other days of the year.
Here’s what you said…
One of the first things we asked survey participants was to define Valentine’s Day using a single word. These were the most-frequently reported answers: love, flowers, Hallmark, cheesy, pressure, hearts, annoying, commercial, money, red, pink, sex, relationship, and disappointment.
We also asked our community to reflect on their associations with sex, pleasure, and romance. Some of the common themes? Most participants felt sexiest in their day-to-day routines, washing their hair or wearing their favorite sweatpants. Favorite feel-good activities included face masks, bubble baths, and reading a good book. And the sweetest romantic gestures were often the simplest.
Keep reading for some of our favorite survey responses.
1. When was the last time you felt sexy?
“Today. I got a haircut recently and I haven’t felt the need for anyone to validate it. I feel sexy as hell.”
“Last night, sex initiated by my husband in a loving, casual way. No big performance or pressure. He found me attractive in a hoodie and sweatpants, and his love made me feel sexy.”
“Honestly, when I sleep naked. I feel comfortable in my own skin and what’s sexier than that?”
“Changing into my pajamas. I was wearing really short shorts that make me feel good about my thighs and booty… I looked so comfortable and cute, I couldn’t believe I was single.”
“When I washed my hair yesterday… Sometimes I feel sexiest in my own musk, though.”
“Confidence is sexy. Feeling good about myself is sexy. Having the strength [to show] my vulnerability is sexy.”
2. How do you make yourself feel good?
“Nothing feels better than a Friday night spent in my pajamas. Probably doing a load of laundry. Always in a face mask.”
“So many ways to interpret this question! Obviously ~me time~ but also solo activities like reading make me feel relaxed and comfortable.”
“I find time a few mornings a week to be with myself. 😉”
“Self care! Whether it’s a bubble bath and face mask combo or ordering my favorite takeout and staying in. Doing something for me.”
“I learned I can’t depend on others to make me feel good about myself, it’s up to me. So I take care of myself – I do my hair, wear makeup (or don’t), dress the way that makes me feel comfortable, and just listen to my body.”
“Watching a movie, eating lasagna or chocolate.”
3. What’s the most romantic thing someone has ever done for you?
“I write inspirational notes to myself. One time, I wrote a note and stuck it on the inside of my bathroom mirror. The next morning I woke up, and my fiancé had written a comment underneath, reaffirming what I wrote and telling me how much he loved me.”
“Maybe not the most romantic, but it was incredibly meaningful when a boyfriend texted randomly during the middle of the week just to tell me he missed me.”
“I had a girlfriend who lived out of state in college, and she surprised me with flowers on Valentine’s Day. I didn’t expect it at all. And it came with chocolate and a card, saying she loved me and wished she could be with me that day.”
“Made me a home-cooked meal (and practiced the night before to make sure it would taste good… I found the evidence!)”
“Bought me pads when I needed them.”
“I told my boyfriend I was lowering my heat before bed because even though I was cold, I needed to watch my bill. He told me he didn’t want me worrying about that kind of stuff and offered to pay it. I declined but gushed at the offer.”
4. What is the one thing you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, pleasure, and/or romance?
“Sex for the first time doesn’t have to be mind-blowing. If there [aren’t] fireworks the first time with a new partner, you’re going to be ok. Learn each other’s bodies… it will get there.”
“Romance is not what you see in movies or TV shows or magazines. It’s different for every person, and you just have to figure it out [for yourself].”
“There’s a difference between feeling sexy and promiscuity. I waited until marriage to start my sexual relationships, and though there were wonderful things that came from that, I wish I could have spent more time learning about myself and feeling confident in my sexuality.”
“You are a treasure. Keep your standards high.”
“Talk to your friends — they probably have the same feelings, questions, concerns, desires, and hesitations [as you do].”
“Even though your first experience with sex wasn’t what you wanted, it doesn’t mean it’s ruined for you forever. You deserve pleasure just as much as you deserve love, and you deserve a partner who will make you feel equal in ALL ways, including pleasure.”