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Is it possible to be a cheapskate on Valentine's Day (and live)?

One poll circulating in the British press showed that 78 percent of women surveyed would most treasure a love letter or poem. In China, while11.3 percent of respondents said some sort of handmade gift is their favorite, an equal 11 percent reported a preference for diamond jewelry.

By Staff Writer / February 12, 2010

Roses are seen at FloraHolland, the world's biggest flower auction, in Aalsmeer, Netherlands, Thursday. The auction expects bumper sales in the run up to Valentine's Day.

Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos/REUTERS

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Yet another holiday approaches, and so too another demand on the wallet. In these tough economic times, the pressures are so high that American talk shows are even inviting experts on to discuss inexpensive ways to show your partner you love them this Valentine’s Day.

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But, men the world over, have no fears. Most women, from Britain to Beijing, are saying that all they really want is something symbolic that shows how much you care.

A study by the British dance event Move It, which asked 500 men and women about their attitudes toward romance, found that what women would most like to hear is: “Would you like to dance?”

Another poll circulating in the British press called the Lindt Lindor “Code of Modern Chivalry” report showed that 78 percent of women surveyed would most treasure a love letter or poem.

And in China, where Valentine’s Day became popular with young Chinese about 10 years ago, displacing a traditional Chinese version on July 7 that had never been very widely celebrated, one poll asking about favorite Valentine’s Day gifts showed that 59.1 percent said “the love that comes with the gift is the most important.” (Of course, while11.3 percent said some sort of handmade gift is their favorite, an equal 11 percent reported a preference for diamond jewelry.)

Have we all the sudden become hopeless romantics? Jennifer Hughes, an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of California, Riverside, says there might be some external factors at play. “Difficult economic times change the meaning of romance,” she says. Gestures might take on more meaning when the ability to buy “things” is diminished.

Alarm bells

For some men that might set off alarm bells. The Move It study showed that women would rather date a bad kisser who can dance, rather than vice versa – no small pressure for the less rhythmically inclined, while the Lindt study showed that only half of men have even attempted to pen a love poem or letter.

Yet there are still reasons to resist the pressures that abound this weekend. A Reuters/Ipsos poll, which contacted men and women in 23 countries, showed that a good percentage of both sexes said that they’d actually just rather spend the day with their pet.

That means that men in Turkey, where 49 percent would rather hang out with their dog (or cat or fish), followed by India (41 percent), Japan (30 percent), and China (29 percent) should be able to get away with a fairly low investment this Sunday.

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