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AARP Foundation Survey Finds Connections, Not Candy, Are Preferred Valentine’s Day Gift

Nearly Half of Respondents Also Worry About a Friend or Family Member Feeling Lonely on Valentine’s Day


WASHINGTON, DC—A survey released today by AARP Foundation finds that only one gift really matters this year for Valentine’s Day: Making time for others. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents said that spending time with a romantic partner or with friends or family is the most meaningful way to celebrate the holiday. Just 13 percent of those surveyed preferred receiving flowers, candy or other gifts.

Eighty-two percent of survey respondents said they would rather spend Valentine’s Day with someone than spend it alone. Non-married adults who are not in a romantic relationship were more likely to feel lonely when thinking about Valentine’s Day. Adults 50 and over were nearly twice as likely to report this status.

According to the survey, feelings about Valentine’s Day are mixed: 56 percent of respondents expressed neutral feelings (33 percent feeling neutral about the holiday and 23 percent expressing negative feelings about Valentine’s Day), while 63 percent expressed positive feelings. The survey also found that, when asked about plans to celebrate the day, 27 percent said they didn’t plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day at all and 10 percent said they planned to spend it alone.

The survey was released by AARP Foundation in support of Connect2Affect, AARP Foundation’s ongoing effort to build awareness about the impact of loneliness and social isolation, which also includes resources to help people stay connected.

“The survey results indicate that for the vast majority of us, the most important aspect of Valentine’s Day is to connect with a loved one, friend or family,” said AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson. “This validates what we already know: that staying connected to the people that matter to us and community is fundamental to our well-being.”

The survey found that non-married adults who are neither dating or in a romantic relationship are more likely to feel lonely when thinking about Valentine’s Day (26 percent) than those dating (19 percent) or in a romantic relationship (6 percent), with 75 percent of survey respondents 50 and older saying they are neither dating nor in a relationship.

The survey found that many respondents are concerned about a loved one feeling alone, with 48 percent noting they have worried about a friend or family member feeling lonely on Valentine’s Day.

Recent research has found that loneliness and social isolation are growing, and may represent a greater public health hazard than obesity. U.S. Census data shows that more than a quarter of the U.S. population is living alone, with isolation affecting 1 in 5 older adults in the United States.

Led by AARP Foundation, in collaboration with the Gerontological Society of America, Give an Hour, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, and UnitedHealth Group, Connect2Affect is working to end social isolation among adults age 50 and older by fostering a deeper understanding of loneliness and isolation and drawing much-needed attention to the issue.

Connet2Affect’s website,, features tools to evaluate isolation risk, including a self-assessment that asks yes or no questions relating to relationships, mobility and major life changes. The site also provides visitors with resources to help users reconnect with their community.

For more information about social isolation and Connect2Affect, please visit

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About AARP Foundation

AARP Foundation works to end senior poverty by helping vulnerable older adults build economic opportunity and social connectedness. As AARP’s charitable affiliate, we serve AARP members and nonmembers alike. Bolstered by vigorous legal advocacy, we spark bold, innovative solutions that foster resilience, strengthen communities and restore hope.

About the Survey Methodology

This online survey of 1,165 adults age 18 and over was fielded from January 23-26, 2018 by Toluna USA, Inc. among a non-probability panel. Data were weighted by age, gender, household income, marital status and region to reflect U.S. adults age 18 and over.

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