With two players (the dating couple) with two choices each (to buy a gift or not buy a gift), there are three potential outcomes:
1. BOTH PLAYERS BUY GIFTS
Marina says in this scenario, “Everybody’s happy because they got the signal they were looking for that the person is committed.” But it’s usually the gesture, not the gift, that’s important, since the most common Valentine’s Day gifts are usually overpriced items that people would never buy for themselves.”
2. ONLY ONE PLAYER BUYS A GIFT
This asymmetric outcome will have consequences. Marina says, “That’s going to lead to hurt feelings and possibly breakups. And we know that the week after Valentine’s Day is the biggest week of the year for breakups.”
3. NEITHER PLAYER BUYS A GIFT
What would be best is if couples made a pact in advance to do the same thing they would normally do on Valentine’s Day when prices are lower. But when you choose not to play, you run a huge risk: That the other party in the relationship decides to break the pact with a small, spur-of-the-moment gift… and you don’t.
So, who are the biggest winners in this game called “Valentine’s Day?” According to Marina, “The best people for Valentine’s Day are the people who don’t have to play the game.” So if you’re a single person this Valentine’s Day: Congratulations! You are the winner!
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