When we say we want romance, guys probably think we mean dozens of roses, diamond rings, and grand gestures of the highest degree. In actuality, most of us aren’t holding onto rom-com fantasies at all. Our vision of romance is actually way more realistic — here’s what we really want:

We want you to look at us like we’re the only person you see. 

That casual catching of the eyes has a not-so-casual effect. Make us aware that out of everyone in the crowded room, we’re the one you’re seeking out. Hold our gaze for just a minute longer than you would normally and let us know that we’re on your mind. We all love to be someone’s center of attention.

We want you to call or text us first, without prompting. 

We love seeing our loved one’s name flashing on our phone screens, and it’s even better when we don’t expect it. Call or text us at a random time in the day — on your way to a meeting at work, on your lunch break, at a time when we usually don’t hear from you. Call us for no other reason than to hear the sound of our voice. Text us just to say you’re thinking about us. That alone will make us smile.

We want you to give us a thoughtful, non-material gift.

I say non-material because it ‘s usually the simplest things that are the most romantic. Sure, if you want to go all out and buy us a diamond ring, we probably won’t say no (who would?), but money doesn’t need to be spent for a gift to be romantic. Pick us wildflowers as we walk down the street. We won’t even mind if it’s a weed — it’s the gesture that we’ll fall for. Buy us favorite chocolate, come to our house with our favorite movie — all simple things but thoughtful things.

We want you to write us a letter. 

The older generations had it right with the handwritten love letters. Now we have the convenience of mobile phones and internet and even writing birthday cards is seen as a chore. Don’t make it one. It doesn’t have to be a five-page letter; a simple hand-scrawled note on the back of an old envelope will do. Write us a sentence that will make us smile and leave the note somewhere we will see it. Write that you’ll miss me and leave it in the overnight bag I’ll be taking on my next work trip.

We want you to get out of your comfort zone for us. 

Do something for no other reason than that you’re doing it for us, just because you love us. So come out dancing when we both know that you have two left feet and can’t do rhythm if your life depended on it. We’ll find it damn adorable knowing that you’re only there because we asked you to come. Brace yourself and take us on that horse riding date we’ve been hinting at for months. Seduce us with your noble sacrifice by doing something that’s not you, simply because it’s entirely us.

We want you to be chivalrous. 

Earn some brownie points by bringing old-school chivalry back. Trust me, it’s as sexy as it is sweet. Brave the cold weather and hand us over your jacket. Walk us home. Hold the door open for us. They’re such simple things and they make us feel special. In a time where the world is screaming that chivalry is dead, prove to us otherwise.

We want you to actually plan a thoughtful date.  

Let’s do something different. Plan an abseiling trip or a cooking class. Let’s go swim with dolphins or take up scuba diving this summer. Let’s discover a new band together and go to their show. It can be anything, but let’s make it a new thing — something that we can discover together, something just between the two of us.

We want you to surprise us.

Surprise us with something out of the ordinary on an ordinary day. Send us flowers on a weekday. Meet us at our workplace in the middle of the week and keep us company on the train ride home. Come to our house with dinner for two from our favorite Chinese place. It doesn’t have to be a grand affair. The fact that you have gone to some effort says plenty.

We want you to make us feel alive.

Make us feel the blood pumping through our veins. Kiss us senseless. Lift us up and spin us around until we’re dizzy. Make us laugh so hard we can’t breathe. Make our heart beat for you fast and we’ll fall hard.

We want you to make time for us.  

We have such busy lives, don’t we? There’s always something to do, somewhere to be. Take some time out with us. Lie beneath a blanket of stars with us. Take us to a desolate corner of the world and let’s pretend we are the only two people alive. Let’s find some time to be alone, together. There’s no place else we’d rather be.

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