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Romance is project management. All successful romantic gestures are the result of one person observing, plotting and executing a plan. Sometimes the plan is big and bold like a prison break. Sometimes it’s quick like a commando raid. I had a girlfriend once who forgave me my comic book addiction and remembered that I was a fan of the character “Wolverine.” She randomly saw a “Wolverine” action figure on sale one day and bought it. Before I came over that night, she told me she was hanging out with a friend she wanted me to meet. They had ordered my favorite pizza and to hurry up. Wolverine was waiting for me on the couch.

Fuel-injected infatuation exists in the here and now. Which explains the ancient warning “out of sight, out of mind.” Romance proves this rule false. Out of sight, still in my mind and in my heart.

Wolverine moved in with me, and sat on my television set for the duration of our relationship. It was a cute, funny surprise. She knew what I liked because she listened to me. While she didn’t premeditate the purchase, when she saw the action figure in the sale aisle, she pounced. The plan revealed itself and she pulled it off. Such a silly little thing for her to do. But acts of romance are all about communicating a simple truth. “When you’re not around, I still think about you.”

Even manipulative romantic gestures pulled off by sneaky wangfaces know to project this message. Which is why they work. So much of attraction happens in the moment. You stare into eyes that turn you into bubbles swirling down a drain or you inhale a perfume that turns your head into a blimp. Hormones pump when you’re nose-to-nose, when you and the other person are a pair of storm clouds lobbing thunderbolts at one another.

Fuel-injected infatuation exists in the here and now. Which explains the ancient warning “out of sight, out of mind.” Romance proves this rule false. Out of sight, still in my mind and in my heart.

All it takes is excellent project management. The project: make the other person feel special by showing them that your skull sponge is soaked with their words, wants and wishes. How do you make that happen?

Related: Poll: What Romantic Gesture Would Most Set Your Heart Aflutter?

First, it helps to actually think about them when they’re not around. Which isn’t so hard when when the person you adore has a table reserved in the corner of your brain. But it’s also important to think about them when you are with them. Listen to them, especially when they don’t think you’re listening to them. Be an expert in their joys. Sneak around the corners of their smiles like a spy in the house of love, which would be a great name for a book. (Haha, chill out Anaïs Nin fans. Both of you.) Do they like flowers? What kind? [Peonies! -- Editor] Favorite colors? Foods? Do they like to take long, luxurious baths to unwind? If you’re dating a woman, does she do that thing that women do in chocolate commercials? That “take a bite of chocolate and then hallucinate a giant, relaxing tidal wave of chocolate that carries them to a magical world of chocolate where stress does not exist” thing? Take note.

If you’re dating a guy, take interest in his interests. It really won’t kill you to know who his favorite Transformer happens to be or important broadstrokes about his favorite sports team. Much the way it doesn’t strangle too many brain cells for him to know a little something about your casual, yet chic, tastes in fashion. This kind reconnaissance is easy, if you care.

Related: Thoughts From Guys On Our IM: What Do You Consider Romantic?

The most important element is execution, which is equal parts preparation and ambush. The preparation part requires time and money but mostly time. I used to make tiny comic books out of Post-it notes for an ex. They would detail what I would do with myself when she would leave on long business trips. The illustrations were funny little scenes of me banging my head against the wall, sharing a joke with a broom with her picture taped to the handle, or training foxes to jump through hoops. The drawings were crude scratches, but, man, I would spend HOURS on them. They would magically find their way into her luggage. Which is the essential ambush part. It’s not that I was cheap with her — she had a taste for absurdly expensive Scotch which I would produce from thin air to celebrate random events in our lives, like the anniversary of the first time we ever did laundry together.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Hi, my name is John. I write stuff about things. Follow me on Twitter or be my Facebook Friend 4 Eva.

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