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How To Get An Unromantic Guy To Unleash His Inner Don Quixote

My husband, Chris, recently came up with a “brilliant” idea for celebrating our wedding anniversary: going to an NFL game. And he was borderline shocked when I wasn’t super-pumped about it.

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I mean, I like football as much as the next person, but being in the stands with thousands of sweaty, beer-swigging fans is hardly my idea of a romantic date.

Sure, it feels "us" to do something unconventional on our anniversary, but I'm not sure this is the way to go. While Chris is really sweet, he's not so great in the romantic gestures department.

I mean, he once bought an espresso maker for me on another anniversary (after months of talking about how much he wanted one).

So he just kind of gave up.

But I’d still like a little more romance in our lives. There must be a happy medium, right?

While some women love flowers, chocolates, and yup, heart-clutching teddy bears (no judgment), licensed clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D. says a growing number of us want romantic gestures that feel more personalized and mindful.

That means less grabbing a box of chocolates at the drugstore and more picking out a book he knows you would love, making a candlelit dinner after you’ve had a hard day, or writing a sweet note just because. It also means going out of his way to create new experiences or do something you love, even if it's not his favorite thing.

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“Real romance leaves you feeling really heard,” says Durvasula.  

Of course, actually getting your S.O. to do it is another story, so Durvasula recommends modeling the behavior you want, like bringing home a pint of his favorite ice cream on a whim and watching his reaction. Keep doing those sweet gestures, and he should start doing the same.

You can also speak up about what you like, she says (“I’d love to go to this concert”), and see if he actually does anything about it.

And if he springs a cliche romantic moment on you, don’t sprint in the other direction. Instead, Durvasula recommends thanking him for it and then gently redirecting him toward what you really want. (“That’s so sweet! But I love you for you, and really, a [insert the kind of romantic gesture you love here] is all the romance I need.”)

Then I realized something: He already shows me “real” romance—and he does it way more often than I do.

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He wrote “Korin Rocks” in crepe paper across an entire wall for my birthday and created a really sweet Mother’s Day photo collage on our computer, set to tear-jerking music and everything.  

He also came home last week with a juicer he found on sale because he knew how much I wanted one.

Meanwhile, I…folded the laundry last week? I asked Chris if he wishes I would do more romantic things for him. His response? "Sometimes."

So maybe I'm the one who needs to start picking up the slack. 


Korin Miller is a writer, SEO nerd, wife, and mom to a little 2-year-old dude named Miles. Korin has worked for The Washington Post, New York Daily News, and Cosmopolitan, where she learned more than anyone ever should about sex. She has an unhealthy addiction to gifs.

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