I don’t want to hear any more talk about romance being “dead,” “on life support” (ugh), or “only sleeping.” Romance is alive and well, but it is evolving. Modern romance is less about creating a fantasy and more about really getting the object of your affection. Romantic gestures that hold up today are born of sincere attention to the object of your affection’s desires. Whether these gestures are spontaneous or planned for months, they are thoughtful.

The crazy, lovesick poet at the window thing is over. Unless you know for sure that the person with whom you’re smitten has a thing for crazy lovesick poets. You see what I mean?

It’s not easy stuff to navigate, and you should never be afraid to express your feelings if that’s what your heart is telling you. However, considering these 8 practical guidelines for modern wooing could save you from embarrassment, court appearances, etc.

1. Is it appropriate to the situation?

Consider how long you’ve been dating and how much you really know about each other. Male, female, gay, straight — everybody likes to be romanced, but only by people that they want to romance them. In general, a romantic gesture isn’t going to win some one over who doesn’t already like you. Ask yourself: Are you the person they want to hear this from? If you’re not sure, is it at least a calculated risk?

2. Are you just trying to make a point?

“But romance isn’t supposed to be ‘appropriate’ or ‘calculated’ — that’s the problem with blah blah blah today…” Shhhhh. Tell it to the judge at your restraining order hearing. Romantic gestures aren’t about taking out your anger at a world that has become mundane and afraid of connection. Romantic gestures are supposed to make the object of your affection feel good and part of feeling good is not being creeped out. If it doesn’t move them, it’s not romantic. End of story.

3. Don’t put them on the spot

If you’ve ever full-body-cringed at some misguided train wreck of a public marriage proposal, then you know this golden rule of romantic gestures — never in front of a crowd. Embarrassing your paramour isn’t good for anybody and pressure is creepy. Maybe you do want to “shout it from the mountaintops,” but consider whether or not they’d rather you just whisper it in their ear.

4. NBD

No. Big. Deal. It’s not about you being on stage, okay? Your romantic gesture should make the object of your affection feel special and let them know how much you like them. Did it? Do they? Excellent. Grab them by the face and kiss them deeply, put your arm around them and keep walking. This sends the message that there’s more where that came from.

5. Show them your world

Remember in Eddie and the Cruisers when Eddie takes JoAnn to that amazing junkyard with the piled up car sculptures. No? (I’m old as hell.) Um… remember the magic carpet ride from Aladdin? Cool. Do that. It doesn’t have to be a bird’s eye view of Agrabah, though. A secret spot you’ve discovered in your wanderings, a particular music scene you’re into, a rooftop to watch the sunset from, a favorite painting at the museum or even an awesome annual family barbecue is a chance to show your sweetheart something special that they couldn’t experience if it weren’t for little ol’ you.

6. Be specific

Even it’s flowers, make it their favorite flower. Or the flowers that you fell onto and crushed when you were drunkenly sneaking into a hotel pool on your second date. Or the state flower of his/her hometown when they’ve been feeling a little homesick. Make it about them, and if it’s something that only the two of you would know, all the better.

7. Gutcheck checklist

Before executing your planned grandiosity, close your eyes and ask yourself: 1. Do you feel half-embarrassed about it? 2. Do you find yourself defending your romantic gesture to the recipient of said gesture? 3. Is it about sweeping them off their feet or feeling like a person who can sweep someone off their feet? 4. Would it freak you out if they did what you’re planning to YOU?

Nobody’s perfect, and the answer to one of or more of these questions is bound to be a little “yes.” If you find that asking these questions makes you second guess your intentions, you might want to wait until you’re a bit more secure in the relationship before you overstep.

8. Don’t ever bring it up again

A romantic gesture is not a bargaining chip. Exploiting it for your own benefit later or, worse yet, mentioning it in response to your SO’s critique of you will retroactively suck every last drop of amour of out your Don/Dawn Juan move. If you find yourself wanting to cash in on the past, it might be time to ask “what have you done for them lately,” and if the answer’s “Nothing,” why?

Still don’t get it? Maybe a visual aid will get the point across. Here’s a young Jason Segel doing exactly what not to do. If you won’t hear it from me, learn it from him.

Filed Under: