The Cartoon Animal CardiStock/beastfromeast
You’re not shy about your feelings. Greeting card artists use animals (most often chipmunks, bears, and skunks) to load major emotion in those big, adorable eyes, says David Ellis Dickerson, author of the book House of Cards and a former Hallmark card writer. “The most popular is the chipmunk, because it has big eyes and a cute face, but unlike a squirrel, it doesn’t have a big distracting tail,” says Dickerson. A bear, on the other hand, conveys a more loving and enduring sentiment. “A chipmunk says ‘Hi!” and scurries away, while a bear hugs you,” says Dickerson. Opt for the skunk? You’re naturally a little stinker: You don’t quite buy into Valentine’s Day—but you still care. (Get our free Valentine's Day guide packed with dozens of quick tips and sweet ideas for an amazing V-Day celebration.)
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You’re patient. “A long, poetic card says the sender is willing to take time,” says Teri Desautels, line and verse director for the greeting card company Marian Heath. “People are very concerned about what those poems say, and they look at every single one to make sure it fits,” says Dickerson. “It’s for a long-term relationship or marriage. I wouldn’t send one unless you’ve been through one major argument. It’s saying, ‘By the way, this is costing me something emotionally—and it’s worth it.'”
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You’re reserved with your emotions. In surveys, men typically specify that they don’t like “mushy” cards, says Dickerson; as a result, they might choose a card's wow factor over its words. “Many men tend to go to the top of the rack and buy the most expensive cards, which are often flowery, gaudy cards with satin ribbon, but that don’t say much,” says Dickerson. “We always relied them to buy those cards to make our profits. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you. They say ‘I love you’ in a different way.”
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You’re appreciative. “A common phrase they start with is ‘Although I don’t always say it…,’” says Dickerson. “It’s the idea that on this particular card, on this particular day, I want to tell you I still care—even if our life together might seem kind of dull at times. And that’s not a bad thing.” These notes can be a sweet way to remind your Valentine just how much they mean to you, even if you’re far past the courting stage.
The Blank CardiStock/beastfromeast
You’re trendy. Cards with no pre-printed message inside are increasingly popular and appeal to millennials in particular, say Arley-Rose Torsone and Morgan Calderini, owners of card company Ladyfingers Letterpress. “They write text messages, they’re on Twitter—and they don’t want someone else to write their love messages for them,” says Calderini.
The Cupid CardiStock/beastfromeast
Sorry, but you’re being lazy. “As an actual symbol, a Cupid is very old fashioned and doesn’t convey that much emotion,” says Dickerson. “It’s such a cliché, it’s basically devoid of meaning.” Even if a card seems classic, it can come across as cold or inconsiderate if it’s not tailored to your Valentine. “When cards use visuals we’ve seen a million times before, it doesn’t make the recipient feel very special,” says Helene Rosenthal, founder and creative director of SayWhat Cards.
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The Nature CardiStock/beastfromeast
You like to keep things simple. Think cards of hearts drawn in the sand or “Be Mine” etched into a tree. You appreciate the serene nature of the outdoor world and likely don’t want to complicate things on this special day. “Often the message in this type of card is a brief line or two. Still meaningful, but stated simply," says Desautels.
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You’re a rule-breaker with an imagination. If your card only says “Love” in bold letters, you’re letting your Valentine set the scene of your romance. “Text is just as much of a visual as an image is,” Rosenthal says. “When you have a word like 'Kiss,' you allow the reader to conjure up their own images of how it relates to their world with you.”
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You live in the present. While a traditional card has a long shelf life, a gadget card will eventually stop working. “It’s a joke in the now,” says Dickerson.
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The Funny CardiStock/beastfromeast
You hit the jackpot: You’re comfortable in your relationship and know your partner well. Humor isn’t necessarily a deflection from true emotions. “On one hand, it is a way to avoid mushiness,” says Dickerson. “But on another, humor represents the kind of love that sustains relationships. It’s what gets people through hard times.” It also takes some pressure off the big day. “Valentine’s Day can be a very loaded holiday,” says Torsone. “A funny card isn’t super gushy, but still shares the sentiment that it’s hard to find someone you really click with.”
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It depends. Emails can be a sweet way to express how you feel if your sentiments are a tad too long to write by hand in a card, says Laurie Davis, author of Love @ First Click and founder of eFlirt, a personal branding service for singles. “A long, emotional email where you reveal your feelings on Valentine’s Day is a great touch if you’re in a relationship,” she says. “It may be feelings your partner has heard before, but seeing them in print is a nice reminder of how much you care. Just make sure you don’t reveal new feelings—emotions should always be expressed face-to-face first.” Even a text can remind your sweetie how you feel about them. “What does he or she mean to you? How have you grown as a result of the relationship? Put it all down in a few sweet sentiments and send mid-day to put a smile on your honey’s face.”