Valentine's Day Gifts That Should Throw Up Some Red Flags - Exclusive

Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and we are getting ready to celebrate in style. From heart-shaped decorations to red and pink Valentine's Day-inspired looks, it's easy to fall in love this February 14.

But the romantic holiday we know today wasn't always filled with candy hearts and baby cupids. Truthfully, Valentine's Day started as an ancient Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia. Yep, you read that right — fertility festival. According to Britannica, Lupercalia began with a ritualistic animal sacrifice, followed by a grand feast, and ended with Luperci priests running around naked in hopes of whipping young women who would later be deemed fertile. We're not sure that Hallmark makes a card for that kind of thing anymore.

While we have strayed far from the origins of the holiday, Valentine's Day is still celebrated by more than half of all consumers around the world. The National Retail Federation estimates that spending will reach $26 billion this Valentine's Day, with an average spending of $192.80 per person. Before you shell out the big bucks to impress your Valentine, consider which gifts will wow your sweetie, and which ones send the wrong message. The List conducted an exclusive interview with relationship expert Nicole Moore of Love Works Method, to figure out once and for all which gifts are total red flags this Valentine's Day.

If you're in a new relationship this Valentine's day, watch out for these gift-giving red flags

The excitement of new love is especially electric on Valentine's Day. If you and your new boo are celebrating your first romantic holiday together, the gifts you exchange are extra important. The romantic gestures received can set the tone for your relationship in the future, and inform how thoughtful your partner is when gift-giving. But relationship expert Nicole Moore told The List that there are a few gifts you definitely don't want to receive from a new love.

According to the Love Works Method expert, watch out for gifts that assume you'll be together for a long time. Giving the gift of an experience can be great, but making plans for a summer concert in July during February is a lot of pressure to put on a brand new relationship. Moore explained, "If your partner gets tickets to a far-in-the-future event before you've even discussed being exclusive, it could indicate that they're more focused on checking the box of finding a partner and have placed you in that spot before truly getting to know you."

Another huge no-no for a new relationship is sexual gifts that place the pleasure towards the giver rather than the receiver. Moore warned that gifts such as fuzzy handcuffs or a satin blindfold can be playful and fun, but if you never expressed any interest in experimenting in the bedroom, it's a huge red flag.

Even long-term relationships should put some effort into gift giving

If you've shared many V-Days with your significant other, you might have agreed not to spend a ton of money on grand gestures or cliche gifts. Even if you only expect a card from your sweetie this Valentine's Day, make sure they've spent time writing something sweet in it. "They leave a ton of space on the inside of cards for a reason — to personalize them," says Nicole Moore, reminding us that a romantic card can be extremely meaningful, but it's the handwritten message your partner adds to the greeting card that makes it special. "If all your partner did was find a card and sign it with their name or something short but not personal, it's highly likely that they are disconnected from the relationship and/or not focused on you."

Another sign that your partner hasn't put any effort into your Valentine's Day present is receiving a gift card. As Moore told The List, "The entire purpose of a V-Day gift is to show the person you love that they are special to you." A gift card shows their laziness or their inability to actually find something that you would enjoy. When it comes to Valentine's Day, it's not just about getting a gift: It's the thought behind the gift that is most meaningful. A gift card requires little to no effort, and could be a sign that your relationship has hit a rough patch.

No matter how long you've been together, these gifts are so overdone

According to a Statista survey, the most popular Valentine's Day gifts in the United States are candy and sweet treats, followed by greeting cards and flowers. While these gifts are classic signifiers of a romantic gesture, they are a bit overrated. Relationship expert Nicole Moore agrees, and takes it a step further by claiming these generic gifts can actually be a huge turn off. "If you can tell they absolutely forgot about getting you a V-Day gift and just grabbed something last minute, that's a red flag that you are not as special to them as they may be to you."

The plastic-wrapped flowers from the grocery store or the basic box of chocolates you see on every shelf doesn't cut it these days. Whether you and your partner are brand new or you've celebrated so many Valentine's Days together that you've lost count, there is never an excuse to put zero thought or effort into a gift. "Everyone knows when V-Day is coming, so there's no excuse for putting a bit of effort into a gift," Moore told The List.

Luckily, TikTok users like @alykima have shared plenty of ways to upgrade your flower game and create a unique gift for your special someone. 

How to respond if you received a V-Day gift that's giving off some bad vibes

It can be difficult to navigate your feelings when you've received a less than ideal Valentine's Day gift. If you start to notice that your partner doesn't appreciate you or isn't putting much effort into celebrating you on the day of love, try discussing these red flags with them.

Luckily, relationship expert Nicole Moore of Love Works Method provided a helpful script to begin discussing your concerns with your partner: "Name of partner, thank you so much for your gift, I know you had a good intention in giving it to me. And, while I'm grateful for the gift, it did cause me to reflect on our relationship and I went inward to figure out what the gift was triggering in me and what it showed me that I need. I'd love to share my thoughts with you as I think it would ultimately help our relationship. Would you be open to chatting about it?"

It's important to remember that your frustrations are stemming from what the gift you received communicated about your relationship, not necessarily that you are upset about the gift itself. You are not ungrateful for receiving a gift, rather you noticed some red flags that need to be addressed. If your partner begins to invalidate your feelings when you try to discuss this, that is another sign that things aren't working and you might want to reevaluate your relationship altogether.

Valentine's Day gifts that are total green flags

If you're looking for Valentine's Day gifts that take your relationship to the next level, Nicole Moore recommends a gift that pampers your special someone. Spa packages or a couples massage is a great gift that lets your loved one relax and reflect on how thoughtful you are. "Caring about our partner's well-being and happiness is such a cornerstone of love, so any gift that shows you want your partner to feel happy and relaxed is always going to be a green flag gift," says Moore.

The best gifts are all in the details. If your partner keeps talking about a certain book, pick it up for them, maybe even splurge for the signed copy. Hunt down their favorite fragrance, or replenish their supply of secret snacks they think you don't know about. According to Moore, "Basically any gift that shows you really know what makes your partner tick is a green flag gift."

If your Valentine is more interested in spending quality time together, one of the best gifts you can give is a stress-free day full of your partner's favorite activities. Especially in heterosexual relationships, a man taking time and energy to plan a full date night without relying on the woman relieves her of some of the mental load she navigates on a daily basis. This Valentine's Day, give a gift with a little extra thought to remind your partner how much you love them.