Valentine's Day -- what's love got to do with it?

Monday, January 27, 2014 - 20:09

What: What is love? Julie Leventhal, lecturer of educational psychology in the University of North Texas College of Education, attempts to answer this and other relationship-related questions in her courtship and marriage course. The course explores romantic relationships and how they change over a lifetime. In the class, students discuss communication, conflict, mate selection, pregnancy, childbirth, family planning and work-life balance, among other topics. Students come from a variety of majors – including family and development studies, public affairs, business and journalism.

When: Leventhal's Courtship and Marriage class is held from 12:30 to 1:50 p.m.  Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Where: UNT campus

Media: To arrange interviews with Leventhal and her students and to get video or photos of the class, contact Ellen Rossetti at 940-369-7912 or

Leventhal offers advice for those celebrating Valentine's Day this year.

Is there pressure put on relationships due to Valentine's Day?

"Absolutely! You start to see boxes of chocolates, adorable stuffed bears and a major increase in all things heart-related as soon as the day after New Year's," Leventhal says. "In addition to various items like these coming out early in the year, Valentine's Day is also highly romanticized in the media. Right after all of the Hallmark and Lifetime movies about Christmas are done, 10 more about love on Valentine's Day pop up in their place! All of those sources do tend to put the pressure on and encourage others to celebrate the day in order to make it different than every other day during the year."

How do people express love in relationships?

"As I tell all of my students in my marriage class and my interpersonal relationships class, relationships all differ and there's no one right way to have a relationship," she says. "The same holds true for how you express your relationship and your love within the relationship. We each transmit messages of love in different ways. Whether you do it through a heart necklace on Valentine's Day or with a simple 'I love you' on a random day during the year, it holds whatever value you place on it for you individually and also as a couple."

How does Valentine's Day affect those who are not in relationships?

"Based on societal pressure, you typically think that some people who are not in a relationship may feel alone or bitter toward Valentine's Day," Leventhal says. "There is a perception that individuals are forlornly cuddling up with their 'boyfriends' Ben and Jerry at home while watching The Notebook if they don't have anyone to spend Valentine's Day with. On the other side of the spectrum, others may have what is known as a Singles Party, where they go out with all their single friends and celebrate their independence. Of course, both of these ideas are thought of as celebratory extremes. There are a lot of people in between who celebrate it in a more mild way or who simply treat it as any other day and don't necessarily even notice that it's a 'special' day according to society."

Watch a video of Leventhal discussing Valentine's Day and relationships:


About UNT's College of Education

UNT's College of Education prepares students to contribute to the advancement of education, health and human development. Founded in 1890 as a teacher's training college, UNT now enrolls more than 4,000 students in the College of Education, which consists of four departments -- counseling and higher education; educational psychology; kinesiology, health promotion and recreation; and teacher education and administration. UNT's College of Education certifies about 1,000 teachers a year -- making it the largest producer of new teachers in the north Texas region. Students are also prepared for careers as researchers, counselors, leaders, physical activity and health promotion specialists, child development and family studies specialists and more.

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108