My roommate Zeidee and I were discussing the link between expectations and happiness today. Happiness is when reality exceeds expectations. A simple trick to increase happiness is to manage your expectations.

Valentine’s Day is often ruined by high expectations. If you’re in a relationship, the expectations bar is set high for what your significant other will do for you on Feb. 14. And if you’re single, Valentine’s is a reminder that you are not meeting society’s expectation that you be in a happy, committed relationship.


I posed a question to Zeidee: If we worked for Tinder/Hinge/Bumble/other online dating app, what event could we host on Valentines Day to make the holiday suck a little less for single people (and also improve online dating)?

We came up with the idea of No Expectations Valentines Day (or low expectations Valentines Day). One of my problems with online dating is the high expectations you have going into a date. Before meeting someone you’ve matched with online, all you have is an idea of what they look like from their best possible photos, a short bio they have written about themselves, and a text conversation. It’s so easy to build an idea of someone in your head that sounds awesome. Most of the time, the person doesn’t match the expectations you’ve already set for them (and how could they?).

What about lowering expectations? Is it possible to build low expectations into an online dating experience?

With No Expectations Valentines Day, the dating app (hinge/tinder/whatever) would ask you for qualities that aren’t deal-breakers, but that you wouldn’t be drawn to on your dating app. For my roommate, this means guys who work in finance and who aren’t above 6″. For me, it’s guys who went to a non-Ivy League school. Yeah…I’m one of those. Anyway, the app would show you some options of dates who fit that quality, and you pick one to go on a No-expectations Valentines Date. You don’t have a conversation online before you meet. You just meet up at a spot that the app recommends based on preferences you set beforehand.

The beauty is that expectations are kept low, both for the date and for Valentines Day. You also don’t cookie-cut someone into the exact specs you think you want. Worst case, you have a conversation you wouldn’t have otherwise had. And if it goes well, the date exceeds expectations pretty quickly.