The Heart Monitor: A Guide to Romance After February 15th

Valentine’s Day is officially over. I have nothing to look forward to until, I don’t know, Passover, I guess. And that’s only if I can make it past Tax Day. Oh boy, those W-2s sure do look enticing.

February 15th, if you ask me, is one of the most depressing days of the year. The overpriced bouquets on coworkers’ desks begin to wilt. The jewelry on their hands looks tacky. The only chocolates left in boxes are the ones with rum raisin filling.

Yes, Valentine’s Day is officially over, but romance isn’t. That’s what I told my boyfriend yesterday morning.

“But babe,” he said, yawning in my face with fresh morning breath, “I’m romantic.”

“I picked the restaurant we went to last night,” I countered. “I had to remind you I would love flowers. You farted all night.”

“My stomach hurt.”

“Regardless.”

“But that was just one day! I do things all the time for romanticism.”

“Romance.”

“Right. Romanticism.”

So according to my boyfriend, here are all the things he does to keep “romanticism” alive.

1. He leaves the room when he farts. Well, he tries to.

2. Occasionally, when he remembers, he makes the bed.

3. He rubs my back when I can’t fall asleep.

4. I always get to hold the remote control.

5. Once he brought home ice cream for me when I didn’t ask for any ice cream.

6. He untangles the knots in my necklaces.

7. He carries the heavy grocery bags.

8. Almost every morning, we walk to the subway together.

9. Sometimes he remembers to buy flowers for the kitchen vase.

10. He tries to get me in a bubble baths with him every weekend.

Here’s what my boyfriend doesn’t understand: Everyday niceties do not equal romance. I can explain all of these romantic moves away as common boyfriend responsibilities and coincidences.

A good boyfriend is supposed to carry the heavy grocery bags. Because we live together and I do a ton of the chores, he is supposed to make the bed. We walk to the subway in the morning holding hands because we both leave the apartment at the same time and take the same train. He once brought me home an unsolicited pint of Ben & Jerry’s because he didn’t want to share his. And of course he lets me hold the remote—he doesn’t care what we watch on TV!

Okay, it is rather sweet that he rubs my back, I do like bubble baths, and the fresh flowers are a nice touch.

But what about romance? I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day mainstays like chocolates and jewelry—I’m talking about heart-fluttering gestures. When most men hear the word romance, they shudder at the expectations. But romance doesn’t need to be taken from the movies. Save the hot air balloon rides and elaborate candle-lit picnics for special occasions.

It’s the special small things—not the grand gestures or the everyday boyfriend duties—that make girls go crazy. So here are my ten suggestions for how men like my boyfriend can turn up the volume on post-Valentine’s Day romance.

1. Write a few short love letters and mail them off to my office. I love to open envelopes in my cubicle—they’re a welcome change from the daily grind of e-mails and instant messages.

2. Don’t bother with turning on the oven—just order in from my favorite Indian restaurant, plate the tikka masala and lower the lights before I get home from work. Voila! Romantic dinner à la takeout.

3. Those cheesy books full of coupons that are good for “one free massage” are actually pretty awesome. A half-hour back-and-neck rub is wondrous, even if it’s from a non-professional.

4. Make me breakfast in bed one morning. Coffee, fruit and a bowl of Cheerios is a beautiful way to say thanks for the morning sex.

5. Surprise me with tickets to something I love. It could be as cheap and easy as a movie or as expensive as a favorite band. But everyones lives surprises.

6. How hot are museums? Take me to an art museum and out for a bottle of wine afterward. That’s classy and romantic.

7. A picture is worth a thousand kisses. Print out one of the myriad digital photos of us and frame it for my desk. For bonus points, add a few photos in the frame so I can switch out the memories.

8. One warm evening, take me on a drive a few hours out of the city to look at the stars. Bring a few blankets, a can of bug spray and some sandwiches for a guaranteed nighttime lay.

9. Take me on an adventure! Let’s go horseback riding or rock climbing or something ridiculous to get the adrenaline flowing.

10. Bring me some cheap bodega flowers from the corner store. A bunch of daisies only costs a few bucks, and every woman loves receiving flowers.

Are any of those gestures ridiculous? If a guy considers surprising his girlfriend with movie tickets and cheap flowers ridiculous, then he hasn’t dated enough women. It’s those small, thoughtful gestures that keep the je ne sais quoi of romance alive.

Valentine’s Day is for amateurs. If you want real romance, you should look for it after February 15th.

And if my boyfriend is reading this, please continue to leave the room when you fart. It’s a good start.

Share This Post:
    • sarahk

      Yes! Any of these things. Perfect list.

    • nerdypaws

      I’m sure it’s just the person because they seem ridiculous and few of those gestures are actually small. Rock climbing?

      On my first date with my husband, before it was actually a date, he bought me a rose and told me, “I wanted to buy you a single closed-bud rose to show you that I think something can truly grow between us.” I laughed at him. It was ridiculous. I told him, “If you can’t tell me directly how you feel, then I can’t really believe what you’re saying.” I’d rather have someone who cared every day because he wanted to than feel pressured to routinely think of the extravagant “small” romance-novel gesture.

    • Hanna

      I love that untangling knots in necklaces is romantic to him. BECAUSE IT IS.

      • G

        I concur. That is super cute.

    • Malkovich

      I have been faithfully reading your column since it began and have grown to love it. Keep the romanticism alive!

    • matbo

      Also LISTEN, if she mentions something she wants, but won’t buy for herself, surprise her! If she talked about somewhere she’d like to go, a museum, a vintage shop whatever take her there! Be assertive, follow up on her vague notions and ideas!

    • Mads

      This made me sad. I feel like the romance has totally died between my boyfriend and I lately. Trying to work out a way for him to see this article…

    • male representative

      I think spontaneity and creativity are important for any healthy relationship, but remember it’s a two way street. No man is going to try and keep the romance alive unless his girlfriend is putting in similar efforts. This week i surprise you with tickets to see ballet, next week you could surprise me with seats at a sporting event. We can go see the romantic comedy, but can we also go see that horror flick? If it isn’t both ways it’s usually neither…

    • Brian

      I agree that for active love life is needed 2 people, If the man is trying and the girl is rejecting him, it’s point less….
      http://healthybeauty2.blogspot.com/p/fashion-and-glamour_24.html