Valentine bliss outpaces dread, poll finds

WASHINGTON — The state of the union is blissful.

A new Associated Press-WE TV survey finds 66 percent of paired-off adults say their relationships are perfect or nearly so. Most are excited for Valentine’s Day and have a gift on their wish list for the holiday.

Flowers and candy top the list of preferred gifts. But there are those who want something pricey like a car, jewelry or a vacation, and others who’d be fine with a teddy bear.

About a third say they’d most like to have intangibles such as time together, health or happiness, while 17 percent said they aren’t celebrating or don’t want a gift.

All told, 68 percent of Americans are in committed relationships of some kind, and 11 percent aren’t currently coupled but would like to be. Seventeen percent say they aren’t seeking a relationship.

In this love-struck society, Valentine’s Day holds strong appeal. About 6 in 10 say they’re excited about Feb. 14, while a third say they feel more dread about the approaching onslaught of candy, flowers and dimly lit restaurants. Apprehension isn’t limited to the lonely: Even 11 percent of those who say they are in a great relationship dread Valentine’s Day.

Contrary to stereotypes, men are just as excited as women about Valentine’s Day. In a more expected finding, men are more likely than women to say they’re hoping for sex as a gift Friday (10 percent among men, 1 percent among women). Women are more apt to wish for flowers (19 percent vs. 1 percent among men). The survey found no significant gender differences on jewelry, chocolate or teddy bears.

A notable generational divide emerged on the gift front: Americans age 65 or older are more likely to say they’d like a card or note this Valentine’s Day (17 percent of seniors want a card; just 1 percent younger than age 30 say that’s their gift of choice). Perhaps there’s a lesson for the young: Seniors are also most apt to say their relationships are perfect and to see time spent with their partner as a key benefit of their relationship.

The poll, conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, also explored how Americans find partners and how they prioritize pairing off vs. other life goals.

For the 11 percent of Americans currently trying to find a committed relationship, there are all kinds of tools available to help. But traditional methods — asking out someone you know or having friends set you up on a date — outpace technological ones. Forty-one percent have used an online dating service, while 19 percent have tried an app that connects them to people nearby.

About half of adults say getting married or finding a romantic partner are important life goals, while more than two-thirds consider saving for retirement, owning a home or success in a career their most important or a very important goal.

For those who’ve found love and feel their relationship could use a little work, 75 percent are willing to make a great deal of effort or more to fix those problems. Three percent say they’re unwilling to work on their issues. Most of those, 72 percent, who see any kind of problem in their relationship attribute it to both partners equally. One in 6 says blame lies mostly with his or her partner. The bigger the problem, the more apt one is to blame a partner. Among those who say their relationships have only minor problems, 9 percent blame their partner, compared with 26 percent who report bigger issues.

One in 8 accepts the blame for any relationship problems. That peaks among married men, 21 percent of whom say their relationship flaws are their own fault, compared with just 5 percent among married women who see trouble in their relationships.

And what vexes Americans’ relationships most? More than 4 in 10 of those who say there are problems in their current relationship cite issues with their sex lives, communication, romance or finances. Those in unmarried couples were generally more apt to see problems than married people, except for two areas: sex life and romance.

The poll was conducted in conjunction with WE tv ahead of the launch of the show “Marriage Boot Camp,” from Jan. 17-21 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for the full sample.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and were later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.

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AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

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Follow Jennifer Agiesta on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JennAgiesta

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

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