Google Trends: Single on Valentine’s Day?

On average, Americans spend $13,290,000,000 on Valentine’s Day each year. With the holiday rapidly approaching, couples everywhere are forced to re-evaluate their relationships. Is it really worth it to spend money on candy and flowers for someone you don’t really love? I have heard way too many stories of people getting dumped either right before or right after Valentine’s Day, and it isn’t pretty.

Whether you think Valentine’s Day is a romantic holiday perfect for letting your significant other know how much you care about them, or an opportunity to mope about how you are single, while binging on junk food and Netflix, America is surrounded by pink hearts, candy and flowers. Some may choose to celebrate with a last minute best friend/gal pal “single” celebration, or declare a #treatyoself day and pamper themselves. To each their own.

That time of year has come, and in the graph below, Google Trends tells us that the average search rate for “single” spiked dramatically on February 14th, 2016. After that, the line consistently ebbed and flowed, and finally tapered off around the beginning of March.

The search trends for “single” vs. “divorce” for the month of February 2016.

This seems to be a yearly trend, with a similar pattern in February of 2015. The difference in the amount of spike between 2016 and 2015 can be explained by the premiere of the movie “How to Be Single” on Valentine’s Day of 2016. However, this does suggest the idea that people need to cope with their single status on the big day, whether that means watching a movie on the topic or not. Nevertheless, there is definitely a huge increase in the volume of searches for “single” each year.

The search trends for “single” vs. “divorce” for the month of February 2015.

On average, 2,077,000 couples get married annually in the United States. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. 

Worldwide Google Trends search rate for “divorce” over the past year.

The search rate for “divorce” is heavily concentrated in the United States, and studies have shown that the US leads in divorce rate worldwide. One might think that searches for divorce would spike around Valentine’s Day, when married couples are forced to reflect on their spouse, yet that doesn’t seem to be the case. The search rate for divorce overall is much lower than “single.”

With this interesting finding, one is left to question, are people getting dumped on Valentine’s Day? Or are they just extra lonely when reminded of the fact that they are single, watching all the couples around them? It seems logical that the rate for “single” would spike around Valentine’s Day, as single girls across the country mourn the ghosts of boyfriends past. Some people even prefer to refer to the holiday as “Singles Awareness Day.”

The search trends for "gifts for boyfriend" vs. "gifts for girlfriend" from January through March of 2016.
The search trends for “gifts for boyfriend” vs. “gifts for girlfriend” from January through March of 2016.

According to the Google Trends graph above, there were almost three times as many searches for “Gifts for Boyfriend” than “Gifts for Girlfriend,” and both searches peaked on Valentine’s Day of 2016. What explains this? Are girlfriends more frantic when buying gifts for their significant others? A quick Google search can give some clues, with many articles along the lines of “The last minute guide for what to get your boyfriend for Valentine’s Day.” Do boyfriends choose to follow the traditional flowers and chocolate route, no Google search required, or do many men skip out on the gift giving altogether?

No matter what, this Valentine’s Day is sure to cause some hearts to hurt, and if nothing else, just like last year, it can be expected that searches for “single” will skyrocket once again. The big day is sixteen days away, but who’s counting?

Gif courtesy of Tenor GIF keyboard.