The Science Behind St. Valentine's Day

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Couple dining
Image: Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts via Flickr

Time reported that 3.5 billion dollars was spent in 2012 on a romantic evening on the town with a partner. A large portion of that involved dinner. In fact, according to, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday to dine out, after Mother’s Day.

The importance of food on St. Valentine’s Day may come down to simple biology. Research shows that in most species, the male provides the female a gift of food. And, that more often than not, this gift of food is linked with sex. For example, Christine Gomes and Christophe Boesch at the Max Plank Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology found that over a 22-month period, female chimpanzees were more likely to mate with males who offered them meat than males who did not share.1

But if you really want to win her over, don’t simply buy dinner. A study by Thomas Alley at Clemson University found that men who actually shared his food by placing it in the woman’s mouth were perceived as more attractive.

But don’t simply take a new piece of food off your plate. When a man bites it first, then places it in the woman’s mouth, it is perceived as an intimate display equivalent kissing.


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