Romance 101

Learn how to make the moves that will impress your sweetie on Valentine’s Day — and all year round.

There it is again on your calendar: February 14th. The stores are ready to stock shelves with big red chocolate boxes and corny “I Love You” mugs. Yes, it’s time for our annual nationally advertised lovefest—and you may be feeling the pressure.

Have you got the right date planned? Do you know the moves that spell romance with a capital “R”? Wipe the sweat off your brow and skip your blood-pressure check.

I’m a success coach and the best-selling author of Simple Spells for Love and 11 other books—and I’ve got your back, your front, and your sides.

Here’s your crash course in Romance 101. We’ll show you how to create a date to remember—and how to deploy some lovey-dovey gestures... on the 14th and any other day of the year.

If you’ve just started dating
You’ve just met someone. Maybe you’ve been on a couple of dates. It’s way too soon to do something big. This could be over next week, but then, this could be It—the relationship of a lifetime. A billboard declaring your feelings will get you a restraining order. Ignoring it altogether will probably throw cold water all over your budding love interest. What you need is exactly the right, light gesture.

1. Send funny snail mail or a cute e-card which will break up the Monday-it is and let them know you are thinking of them on this holiday, but not too much.

2. Give a traditional box of chocolates complete with map of fillings and a card that states your interest in vanilla crèmes or any leftover caramels—being a bit silly helps take the edge off the holiday.

3. Give your favourite all-time CD or book to your new sweetie. The best that can happen is that you agree on greatness. The worst is that you find out you have different tastes. Either way, it’s a good exercise in sharing what you care about.

4. Bring flowers but don’t get too gushy on the card. Instead of roses, try something more casual, like tulips or daisies.

5. Opt for a quick drink with your new love interest. Order a cosmopolitan or vodka cranberry to bring some red into the evening. Say goodbye with a quick but interested kiss.

If you’re definitely dating

You need to show that you know your love interest well. Go for an inside joke or a gift that says “I get you”. This Valentine season is important: If you mess up, your relationship can take on a sour note. If you get it just right, it’s all sweet.

1. Re-invent dinner in. Rent a movie, preferably a mutual favourite, cook something that sounds amazing — no easy pasta or takeout — light a lot of candles and have some good wine on hand.

2. Donate to a common cause. If you are an earnest person with an earnest love interest, might as well get some bang for your buck. However, don’t for a second think that you can’t be romantic. Wrap the donation confirmation in a nice scarf or tuck it into the card that goes with your flowers... You can’t count on turning romance into a completely non-profit occasion.

3. Try a completely personal gesture. What makes your sweetie’s heart sing? If it’s good wine, show up with something nice... or take your date out to a wine bar or hotel lounge to sample the really good stuff. If your guy’s all about surfing and you’re not a fan of the waves, suck it up and give him a coupon promising to spend a day with him on the beach, even if you don’t head out there yourself. If your honey loves to laugh and has a zany sense of humor, then maybe two tickets to a comedy show – you will spend all night laughing and re-live the jokes in the days following.

4. Create a CD of your favourite love songs. Sharing those with your date says a lot, and jotting some liner notes about the tunes wins you more bonus points.

5. Do your homework. Without letting your date know, canvas your sweetie’s friends and family about what gift he or she would love... or a favourite activity. Doing this kind of research shows real effort and caring.

If you’re a committed couple

You know without a doubt that you have to come up with something good. You’re under pressure to be sincere and show your affection. It’s time to step up to the plate…

1. Go the traditional route: Arrange a dinner out at your favourite neighbourhood haunt, and say “I love you.” If your partner doesn’t appreciate that, rethink your partnership.

2. Indulge yourselves. Arrange for a couples massage, and drink a bottle of champagne together. You’ll both feel good after that.

3. Surprise your partner at work with a little present (bestowing a gift in front of co-workers adds value) and steal them away for a coffee and some chocolate together.

4. Write a love letter. No need to be poetic. Just say how you feel, how grateful you are to be with your true love, and mean it.

5. Hatch a big scheme. If you’re feeling flush, book a getaway for the two of you. Your mate will find that being presented with vacation all planned and paid for is irresistibly romantic—and the mileage from telling friends and family about the trip will only add to the joy.

Romantic gestures to try
OK, now that we have date-planning squared away, here are some devastatingly romantic moves to try:

For guys: Keep it quick, innocent, and indirect

1. Brush hair from her face (preferably near her brow, linger there, then back off).

2. Create a chance to slow dance — even if you're just kidding around — and go cheek to cheek for a split second.

3. Hold her hand when you're waiting in line for a movie or for a table in a restaurant. Hand-holding is very romantic and intriguing when you're just standing still.

For women: Tread the line between sweetness and suggestiveness with care

1. Suggest that your honey take a look at a book you have. Stand behind him, and turn the pages for him. Let your breath brush the back of his neck, peek over his shoulder and let your hair brush against his cheek.

2. When he cracks a joke that is funny enough, throw your arms around him and toss your head backwards in laughter. If you’re not that big a laugher, find another excuse to swing an arm around his shoulders—just doing so and saying, “I’ve been looking forward to seeing you all day,” works fine.

3. Go ahead—offer him a taste of your food. That old feeding-your-date move is an “old favourite” among romantic gestures for good reason!

Story by Barrie Dolnick for

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