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10 Secrets Your Valentine’s Day Card Reveals About You

Nearly 200 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged every year. Is your card sending the right message to your Valentine?

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Choose your card wisely

Anyone who’s struggled to find the perfect Valentine’s Day message for that special someone (or someone you’d like to become that special someone!) knows that Valentine’s Day cards contain a wide range of sentiments. But you might not know all of the things that your choice of card can actually reveal about you—and about the nature of your relationship. Plus, learn some more Valentine’s Day secrets card stores won’t tell you.

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The Cute Animal Card

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.

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The Poetic Card

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.’”

Some of these cards also start with the “although I don’t always say it…” sentiment, which is a sweet way to remind your Valentine just how much they mean to you, even if you’re far past the courting stage. “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,” Dickerson says. “And that’s not a bad thing.” No matter what card you get, make sure you pair it with a great gift like one of these perfect Valentine’s Day gifts for her.

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The “Bells and Whistles” Card

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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The Blank Card

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. Maybe write in one of these silly Valentine puns you can’t help but smile at.

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The Cupid Card

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 Card

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. Check out our list of best Valentine’s Day gifts for him.

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The Card With No Images

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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The Singing Card

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. Everyone might not appreciate it, just like these polarizing Valentine’s Day candies.

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The Funny Card

*could we split this image with the inside and outside of the card so that the whole joke is there?*

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.” Read on for more funny cards that have us laughing this year.

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The Email or eCard

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.” Next, check out these adorable vintage Valentine’s Day cards you’ll wish you received.