Romance for the non-Romantic

Anyone can be a romance movie leading romantic with a few helpful tips and a growth mindset.

Defining Romantic

Romantic gestures are meant to be personal — that’s what makes them special. So step 1 to being an expert romantic is to figure out what your partner views as romantic. Here’s a quick guide to doing that:

  1. Ask them about the most romantic thing(s) anyone has ever done for them, or that they’ve ever seen / heard of anyone do. Look for patterns — do they tend to find big gestures or daily thoughtful acts more romantic? Maybe both (even more convenient!)
  2. Look for hints. Many people will drop hints if they want or would like something. These sentences usually start with “I love ____” or “I’ve always wanted ___” or “it would be so cool/great/awesome to ____”
  3. Ask them their favorite romantic movies. Watch them together or at least google search the romantic gestures done in the movies — this can reveal a lot about preferences.
  4. Figure out if they like public romantic gestures. Many people love the pride element that comes from receiving a romantic gesture in public or in front of colleagues, friends or family, while others hate it.

Finally, remember that being romantic is an investment and should come from a place of desire vs. hacking it. The most romantic thing in the world in my opinion is feeling that someone cares so much about making you happy that they went out of their way.

The Rituals

Anything big or small done on a ritualistic basis adds an extra romantic element. Just about anything can be ritualized, and the more personal it is to your relationship the more romantic it can be.

I personally love anything done on a weekly basis, because it’s frequent for the receiver but also not overwhelming for the doer. It can be extra special to have it happen on the same day each week so that your partner knows they have it to look forward to, or if they’re more of a “surprise me” personality you can mix it up. Here are some ritual ideas that can be easily done on a weekly basis:

  • flower delivery to their work / public place they frequent
  • bring flowers home
  • leave a love letter for them or a weekly “reason I love you” note. Again think of personal flairs that your partner would love. For example, I love inspirational quotes, so doing these notes attached to a great quote or on a quote card would be extra special.
  • have a planned date night/day/activity that you always plan
  • build a collection for them that you add to weekly. Try to find something that would be meaningful to your partner based on their interests.
  • cook a meal weekly for your partner, or as a simpler version have their favorite meal ready for you both to enjoy when they get home

Daily rituals are the little moments that make love and life so rich. Here are some ideas:

  • If you get up before them in the morning, leave a note, text message or voicemail with a loving and encouraging message for the day
  • Bring them their daily coffee or tea (bonus points if it’s in bed!)
  • Have 10 minutes before bed where you make sure both your phones are down and you do something fun — play together, give your partner a massage, make out — time you treat as holy and deeply connect
  • Be waiting with a towel to dry your partner off whenever they get out of the shower
  • When you or your partner come home from work, have a ritual of stopping whatever you’re doing and just holding each other for 1 minute
  • have a song that you both love, dance to or sing to together. Put it on when your partner comes in or at a certain time each day.

The Big Gestures

Different occasions call for different amounts of romantic effort. If it’s an anniversary, birthday, big event/extra stressful or special time for your partner, or special moment try to put in that extra touch of time and thought to make it super memorable for your partner. These also work great sprinkled in randomly once every couple months to keep your partner feeling thought of. Add the element of surprise to any of them if that’s your partner’s style.

  • light a bunch of tea light candles inside or outside and call your partner to come where you are. Be waiting with flowers or just a great kiss
  • set up the bathroom with lots of good smelling candles, a glass of wine or tea, and your partner’s favorite music for them to take a relaxing bath — or hop in with them.
  • getaways: whether your partner is more of a camper or a 5 star hotel person, whisk them away on a getaway nearby or faraway to a spot you think they’ll love. If they like surprises, don’t tell them where you’re going or go one step further and have a friend/family member pack their bag for them and just surprise them and take them away!
  • serenade your partner with a song they love or one that you think represents your relationship. Can be done in private or public. If you aren’t musical, this can get you even more points!
  • get them an extra special gift — maybe something they’ve mentioned they’ve always wanted but would never buy for themselves because of expensive or its elaborate nature.
  • get them a daily use gift that they can use and think of you. Ideas: a personalized mug, a daily wear piece of jewelry, a keychain or lanyard.
  • plan a surprise party, dinner, or event of some kind for them with their most beloved friends or family.
  • put together a video for them of their friends/family responding to a prompt about your partner. Ideas: “what do you love most about them?” “what’s your favorite memory of them?” “what’s one [insert occasion] wish you have for them?”
  • if one of you is leaving for a long period of time, equip the person with love for while you’re gone. That could mean a note for each day you’re apart, or doing something more specific to your relationship like freezing home cooked meals for each day you’ll be gone.
  • celebrate your partner’s big wins in work or life. If they are getting a promotion or just had a win in life, prepare a surprise (could be as simple as flower or a bottle of wine) and a congratulations note. This is a big gesture because it shows you’re really paying attention to what’s going on with them and celebrating it.
  • Send them on a personalized scavenger hunt
  • Make them something. Art, knit clothing, build something- ideally something they can use or see every day to think of you.
  • Take them on a date straight out of their favorite romance movie. Figure out which movie they love and set up a date context that copies a date or scene from the movie.
  • Create a scrapbook or print out pictures of your favorite memories together and leave them everywhere. A fun touch could be adding balloons or notes on the back like this.
  • Leave a trail of rose petals leading from the door to the room and have a sensual experience planned when your partner enters.
  • Leave notes for certain occasions. Ideas: “open if you’re having a bad day”; “open if you’re mad at me”; “open if you need a confidence boost”
  • Make them a playlist and leave a note about how you chose the songs specifically for them.
  • Buy them a new outfit (you can enlist the help of a friend here if needed) and lay it out with an extra touch (a rose, their favorite snack or drink) and a note telling them to put this on and be ready by a certain time to go on your date.
  • Cook your partner breakfast in bed.
  • Set up a picnic or romantic dinner for 2 in one of your favorite outdoor spots.
  • If picking a partner up from the airport: park, go in with a gift like flowers or their favorite romantic small gift and a cheesy sign with their name on it.

The Extra Touch

A few “extras” can go a long way in making something romantic depending on the person. Here are some ways to add that extra touch:

  • Handwrite everything.
  • Get gifts embroidered or etched with quotes, dates or initials.
  • Sprinkle in “just because” romantic gestures for no reason and with no predictability, to show your partner you are thinking of them.
  • Figure out the most special people to your partner and go above and beyond to make them feel involved in gestures you do to make your partner happy. Your partner will find this romantic on many levels, and this can help you pull off even better gestures. Ideas: enlist their help in picking out the perfect gift or pulling off a surprise getaway.
  • Create a special name or emoji that you associate with each other.