While talking to a friend who recently has accepted the fact that she is definitively in love with her soon-to-be boyfriend, she filled me in on all the romantic gestures he has made and why he is so special to her. She excitedly told me about their “love making” to carefully crafted, sensual playlists, numerous special moments in their lives which they have chosen to commemorate as anniversaries, and the candlelit, homemade dinners he prepares for her where they discuss their intense feelings for one another. Hearing all of the details of their frequent amorous experiences made me think about the concept of romance and how it varies from one individual to the next. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to receiving signs of gratitude and admiration and what makes one girl fall in love can make another girl head for the hills.
I personally am put off by overly romantic gestures because they seem disingenuous, as if he is trying too hard, or as if there must be a catch—but I am a cautious dater and tend to be prepared for the worst. I also am turned off by large fiscal gestures of appreciation because my affection is not something to be bought. However, there are girls who love ridiculous horse and carriage rides through central park or 5 karat diamond earrings—I am just not that girl. I prefer the more silent or simple signs of affection, such as coming home after a long day of work to a cleaned house or random “thinking of you” texts from a guy when he is doing something that reminds him of me. I would prefer to be taken on a special anniversary date to a place I loved from my childhood that I had not been to in years like a county fair than be taken on some extravagant trip to an overpriced restaurant in a limo. Don’t get me wrong, I would feel like a princess being chauffeured around by a prince charming guy but I would also feel out of place and uncomfortable because that level of romanticism is just not me.
When it comes to gift giving, rather than getting a diamond necklace (I hate diamonds) nothing would make me happier than a Takari dancing flower—not because I’m dying to fill some 80’s nostalgia and memorabilia void but because I had one as a child and it was later smashed and discarded by my father and I haven’t been able to find one since. It is a silly present to covet but it reminds me of happier times from when I was a kid and would make me smile every time I looked at it. A romantic gift to me has everything to do with understanding the recipient well enough to know what they would find special or incredibly thoughtful and has nothing to do its monetary value or ability to impress others. At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s the thought that counts.
This being said, there is nothing wrong with desiring fancy things or expecting a man to take you to only the finest restaurants. Since heterosexual dating is technically the act of a man courting a lady to find a life partner, men’s gestures of romanticism should consist of measures he is comfortable taking and should ultimately attract a woman whom he is highly compatible with. Moreover, girls will tend to be attracted to the guys who pursue them in a way consistent with their unique personality. I hate to refer to dating as a game and fake signs of adoration should be avoided at all costs, but there is an art to landing a catch. A sad reality of the dating world is that both sexes like to be impressed and showing one another how much we care has to be personalized in order for it to charm us. Romance may have the connotation of longing stares, intense passion, and outlandish gestures of showmanship; but, in actuality, it can be as simple as an “I love you text,” a kiss on the cheek “just because,” or telling someone they look beautiful when they wake up in the morning. Ultimately, in defining romance for ourselves, we become more self-aware and make decisions congruous with our intrinsic desires. Romance is what we make it and as long as we are happy and the one we are with is equally as exultant, then we have been swept off our feet and are in a romantic relationship whether we choose to define it as such or not.