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Men spend lots more than women on Valentine's Day

WASHINGTON—Take note, gentlemen: You'll probably give more than you get on Valentine's Day.

Men plan to shell out an average of $128 on their loved ones Tuesday, while women plan to spend $74, according to a new survey sponsored by Discover Card, the credit card company.

Why do men spend more?

"Because men have to, and women can chose to," Gail Sheehy, the author of "Sex and the Seasoned Woman" and other books on modern women, said in an e-mail interview. "Women remind men and guilt them into it."

Fair enough. But women also earn less, about 75 cents to every dollar a man makes, according to Vicky Lovell, study director at the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington.

More than one-third of women don't plan to spend a dime on gifts for their sweethearts, according to the survey, which excluded men and women who said they had no lovers—real or potential—to buy for.

Lovell suspects that there's a second reason for men's extravagance: They're less comfortable letting their hearts speak.

"Women may spend less because they see it as a time for men to express affections," Lovell said.

What women want, however, may differ from what men buy them, according to Discover's representative sample of 1,016, polled by phone.

Offered seven choices of Valentine's presents, jewelry ranked fifth among women but third in men's plans. Lingerie and clothing ranked sixth on the women's list, fifth in men's plans.

A night on the town was the top choice for both, but there may be some argument about who picks up the tab. Seven out of 10 men surveyed said they'd pay. Six in 10 women said they would.

Flowers and candy were the next most popular gifts among women, and the survey found that men know it.

Besides a night on the town, men said they wanted entertainment items such as books, music and movies far more than any other gifts.

Older respondents cared less about presents than younger ones. Sheehy thinks that's because older people appreciate the sentiments of a handwritten card over "another token gift."

Valentine's Day gifts are expected to ring up $13.7 billion in sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

The money is beside the point for many women, Sheehy stressed.

"Women only feel obligated to send a card," she said. "It's our holiday."

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(c) 2006, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

GRAPHIC (from KRT Graphics, 202-383-6064): 20060210 VALENTINES

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