How to be Romantic

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Romance is about feeling understood. Say all you want about love and happiness – what you really wish for, above all else, is to know that someone “gets” you.

Romantic gestures are opportunities to express what you “get” about your SO (Significant Other), and from what I understand, there are a whole lot of couples, men and women, out there who aren’t getting much of anything.

As a mid-20s chick living in a world with Facebook, FaceTime, and #facepalm, romantic gestures seem to have disappeared with VCRs, pay phones, Discmans, and everything else I thought was going to stick around forever. In our high-definition lives and the go-go-go demand of the 21st century, how is one person supposed to feel “understood” in a world of seven billion?

The world around us has changed, but the dated principles of romance have not. Candlelight dinners and roses are cliché, but what’s replacing them? Are both women and men left out in the cold, doomed to be uninspired in the romance department?

I’m suggesting a few new principles for romance dedicated to the countless men and women who are ready for a fresh take.

Principle #1 Men vs. Women

Men and women seem to define romance differently.

The vibe I get from about 80% of my female friends (and by friends I mean Facebook friends) – is they want to feel pampered and treasured. They want something out of the ordinary and to feel special. To them (us), that’s the functional definition of romance.

As far as men, well, my guy friends don’t overshare on Facebook as often, therefore my empirical data is a little skewed. So I’ll just say this: I caught one of my good guy friends gushing about his girlfriend and it was so sweet even I wanted to blush. Do you want to know what she did that was so great? You want to know what story he saved to brag about? You want to know what made him feel special and pampered?

They installed a garbage disposal together.

A garbage disposal!

And you know what else? It didn’t work! They spent half of Sunday at the hardware store, the other half trying to install the freaking thing, and they still couldn’t figure it out. But to him, that was better than any candlelight dinner and flowers that are “just going to die anyway.”

So consider your audience. Ladies, if you’re trying to make your man swoon, don’t suggest a make-out session to the Best of Enya because that’s what YOU want to do. And Gentlemen, don’t think a new garbage disposal means you can skip the flowers. Keep in mind it’s likely you have different preferences, so plan your romantic gestures accordingly.

Principle #2 Thoughtful vs. Thoughtless

What says more? Being surprised with a new book you mentioned or the typical dozen roses?

The hardest part about being romantic is LISTENING. I don’t mean just listening with your ears either. Listen to your partner’s patterns, interests, hobbies – after all, you’re the one who sees them every day! – and use them to your romantic benefit. Turn what you know about your partner into a romantic opportunity to show that you “get” them.

Principle #3 Actions vs. Words

Don’t just say romantic things. Do them.

How many fights have been founded on the “actions speak louder than words” principle? Do your relationship a favor and don’t make empty promises.

If you’re the one currently waiting for your SO to take romantic action, ask yourself what you have done for your partner lately. No one wants to be the teapot calling the kettle black, so before any accusations fly, make sure you’re doing your part too.

A few ideas for your romantic repertoire…

1. On a day when you’re home before your loved one, have your favorite “couple” song ready to go on your music device of choice. Hit play when they walk through the door and enjoy three minutes of just-because dancing.

2. For the gym rats, plan a cardio class or a 5k run/walk you can do together.

3. Write a note that specifies something you love about him/her, like how great they are with your family or what an amazing kisser they are.

4. Wash his car.

5. Let him have a guy’s night at home while you find “somewhere to be.” So many people lose touch of friendships when they’ve settled down. Show your SO you don’t want them to lose their friends or their individuality.

6. The movie your SO wanted to see is now available at Redbox. Rent it and watch it together, even if it’s not your first choice.

7. After a hard day, surprise them with their favorite drink or dessert.

8. More shoulder rubs.

The most romantic gestures are the ones that leave you feeling understood and valued. A couple of weeks ago, I crossed something major off my bucket list. As a congratulations, MOaO (my one and only) surprised me with new Moleskine journals. I’m a writer and live out of my notebooks, Moleskine being my favorite brand. No one else would know to get me notebooks, but she “gets” me, and that lined paper made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

Notebooks! That’s just how simple an unforgettable romantic gesture can be.