Lessons in Love: Bring on the Romance

Relationships are work. Good ones are like having another job. You have to interview for the role you want. While interviewing you must present your best self yet be honest enough about your flaws and failures so the person gets a true sense of your ability to file the position. Some pre-employment checks may be involved. Your references may get checked. Generally, there's a trial period before you receive full benefits. After that initial period is over, you're expected to perform. And you're expected to perform at a high level of competency at all times. You cannot get complacent in the role as there are always new challenges presenting themselves. If you start slipping, you will no doubt be placed on a performance improvement plan and given a warning. And if you still fail to meet the pre-arranged standards… chances are you will be fired. Without a recommendation. Think on it. I'm talking to the women and the men. It sucks to be fired. Especially if you could have avoided it.

One of the easiest ways to keep a relationship out of the "needs improvement" file is by keeping things fresh. Doing the same thing day after day is a grind and you wind up taking it for granted. How about a little spontaneity and romance. By this I do not (necessarily) mean trying out some new freaky-deaky move in the bedroom. I mean romance. Are you following me? Okay here's a BougieTale:

It's summertime. And it's been a long, hot long distance summer between me and the (then) SO. Tempers are starting to get a little short. Schedules are not aligning. One Wednesday, I traded in some miles and fly into town unannounced. I charmed the concierge into letting me into the apartment. I grabbed the spare keys to the Land Rover and headed to the grocery store. I didn't answer my cell phone all day. By 6:30 pm, my infamous seafood Florentine on angel hair whole wheat pasta was done. Wine was uncorked, flowers on the table, candles were lit, and I was in a really flattering dress with uncomfortable strappy heels on. I had just hit play on the mellow music mix and just finished twirling in a perfume cloud when I heard the key in the lock. Two steps down the hallway, he knew something was up. "Hello?" he called out. I stepped into his line of sight, "Hi honey, how was your day?"

To my surprise and dismay, his face fell and he fought back tears. Now understand this is a man that didn't go emo… ever. He came forward and gave me a bear hug and clung. Finally he said, "It's been a long day and it's been a long time since someone made this kind of effort for me. It's nice. It's just really nice." I gave him a glass of wine and sent him to take a shower while I set the table and I thought about it… How often does the man get the romantic gesture? Let me tell you ladies… it is greatly appreciated. You don't even have to go all "I flew in and cooked", it can be as simple as noticing that he has a pair of socks with a hole in it. Buy a new pair, put a funny card on them and leave it somewhere he can find it. Tell him you're giving him an hour of "alone time" to do what the hell he wants. Give him the last biscuit on the plate. I can tell you that sending my SO's favorite brand of gummy bears to his office in individual bags so he could share made me the coolest chick on the planet for little while. It's called a romantic gesture. It comes back to you twenty fold.

Fellas, I see you nodding your heads in agreement, "Um-hmm, brother wants a little romance too. Can a brother get a Valentine's day gift?' Yes you can but fellas... While you appreciate romance, some of us LIVE for it. And I'm not talking about the grand "baby don't leave me" gesture. Pour a sister a cup of tea on a cold night, bundle her up in her leopard print snuggie and leave her alone. Slap a post-in note on the mirror saying, "You're always beautiful to me." Sappy yes but do you know how appreciative a woman is when she is made to feel good about herself… and you're the cause? Suck it up for one night and watch the freakin' Lifetime-Movie-of-the-Week with her. Boil an egg and call it breakfast… are you catching my drift? It's not always the flowers and the candy or the dinner and the jewelry (though we love that).

One time I got all misty eyed over a package of SweetTarts and a Sprite. Don't. Judge. Me. It was the perfect pick me up in the middle of a very raggedy day. Oh fellas, just so you know: Cleaning the bathroom after old girl has been nagging you about it for a week is NOT a romantic gesture. It's an overdue household chore… no points for you. But running a bubble bath in newly scrubbed bathroom and putting a class of wine by the tub… now you've got it.

Before I go completely hearts and flowers let me add one more disclaimer. Ladies and Gentlemen, if your relationship game is shoddy all the way around and all you've got are romantic gestures – that's not going to work. The romance is just frosting on the cake. If the cake is nasty, it still gets tossed… ya feel me? I know ya'll are catching my drift, I don't need to beat you over the head with it. Do something nice. Keep love alive.

Tell me, what is the LEAST romantic gesture you've ever heard of? Is romance a lost art? What is the most romantic thing you've ever done, or have had done for you or wish someone would do?