Adam and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary last June, and one thing I’ve learned over the years is the importance of showing little acts of romance — or even grander gestures once in awhile! It’s easy to become so comfortable with the person you wake up with each morning that you can forget to prioritize showing how much you love them… but I’ve found that when one of us makes an effort, it’s reciprocated, and as a result I never forget why I first fell in love with my love. The best thing about Valentine’s Day is that it reminds us to hit the pause button on the busyness of life and prioritize passion, so I polled some of my favorite “in love” people to find out how they, or their partners, had romanced them in their relationship. Click through the slides and prepare to swoon.
Say “I love you” with actions.
My boyfriend doesn’t make grand, showy gestures. Real romance is quieter than that. He opens the door for me, gives me the window seat on the plane, lets me have the last bite of whatever we’re sharing. All the little things that quietly say “I love you” over and over again. He also knows the power of a small surprise. Sometimes I’ll check my mailbox and find a new record or book, from a mysterious sender. How wonderful is that?
– anonymous CS team member
image from valdirose blogspot
Get to know each other. Really.
When Tish and I first met and were dating long distance, she emailed a list of random questions begging for telling answers — it was a fun way to get to know each other. Last year (after 9 years together), she gave me a book called Q&A that includes a question every day of the year for 3 years — both people in the relationship answer. They are fun and random, and it’s a great reconnecting tool.
— my friend Crista
photo from Madewell
Send a surprise across the miles.
Last year, Aaron was traveling for work over Valentine’s Day, so he flew my mom out to LA to spend the weekend with me. He made us brunch reservations and appointments to get massages at my favorite spa! I was so shocked when I opened the door and saw her. Best surprise ever!
image from Madewell blog
Make time for a midday rendezvous.
I love picking up take-out from some of our fave restaurants around town and meeting in a nearby park for a quick lunch date. Other times he has to keep working at his desk so I’ll deliver the goods directly to him at his office — nothing says I love more than a bowl of hot pho with all the accoutrements on a cold winter’s day!
— my friend Anne, who always makes time for thoughtful gestures.
Lighten the load for each other.
The most romantic thing at the moment is Dave emptying the dishwasher, packing lunch and taking Lulu to school. May not be sexy, but it’s amazing for me.
— Kim, my interior designer friend who is also 7 1/2 months pregnant.
image from happy yolks
Box up your favorite memories.
Back when we were dating and I was dirt poor, I made Collin a memory game with photos of different trips we’d taken and experiences we’d had. I printed them out and glued them onto cardstock, then put them in a cute little box.
— my sister-in-law Beth
For our 5th anniversary, I placed little pieces of paper with my favorite memories with him and/or reasons I loved him inside balloons, then had the balloons blown up. He had to pop them to read each paper.
— my friend Diana (who had such a great list of romantic things she & her hubby had done for each other, I had a tough time narrowing them down.)
image from oh beautiful world
Transform takeout into a 5-star romantic dinner.
Historically, I’ve always liked Valentine’s Day, but everything changed when I married my husband and moved to NYC, where our collective lives were dominated every February 14th by a little something called New York Fashion Week (I was a full-time beauty editor until recently, and Neil is an entrepreneur and a partner at a fashion photography agency). We used to joke that we covered NYFW as if it was our newborn baby, with me covering backstage beauty prep starting around 7 am, and Neil shooting after-parties until the wee hours of the morning. Valentine’s Day always seems to fall towards the end of Fashion Week, when we are both so tired we can barely see straight, and the thought of dreaming up something romantic for each other is the farthest thing from our minds.
Well. A couple of years ago, we decided that we wanted to do some kind of dinner at home and avoid the Valentine’s restaurant scene. The only problem: I am the cook in our household (Neil considers heating up canned soup cooking), and I was in no shape to plan and execute a home-cooked meal. So, Neil told me not to worry about it, and I arrived at home on 2/14 after a super-long day at work to find pink roses, wine, and a delicious takeout meal, fully plated, from the gourmet market a couple of blocks away. I’ll never forget how relieved and cared for I felt in that moment. It’s like he knew not just what I’d want, but what I’d need in that moment. To me, that night captured what ‘Love Day’ is all about — to me, it doesn’t get better than that.
image from pratos e travessas
Make a habit of writing love notes.
Michael and I have a red Moleskine journal that we use to write little love notes to each other. I never know when I will wake up or come home after a busy day to find the journal out on the table with exactly the words that I needed to hear that day.
— my cousin and amazing massage therapist Sarah
On our first anniversary, AK gave me a letter he wrote to me on our wedding day and told me to expect subsequent notes written from the year before on our anniversaries. It makes me feel good to remember that he is always loving me year after year. On top of that, I frequently wake up to one sentence notes beside the coffee pot, reminders that he loves me and is thinking of me. I have a whole folder full of love notes now.
— my sister Molly
image from kinfolk
Initiate an impromptu slow dance.
My boyfriend loves to pull me towards him for an impromptu slow dance in the middle of my room. He then attempts to sing by pretending he knows the words to whatever song is playing. He’s been doing it since we were 17… the sweetness still melts my heart to this day!
–Jessi, assistant editor at CS
image from oh beautiful world
Celebrate the milestones.
On the one-year anniversary of my shop, my husband came in right before I closed bearing a big beautiful bouquet of flowers with a really lovely note. The customers in the store all “awww”ed. And I’m sure I turned beet red. But it was so sweet.
— my sister-in-law Beth
It was the week of my birthday, and I had recently stopped nursing our second child. My mom had been visiting for the weekend, and I expected her to be packing up to head back home on Monday morning. When I rolled over that morning, Chris told me to grab my travel journal off my night stand (Yes I keep a travel journal. I’m a nerd, but its one of my prized possessions. Its full of the little things you never really remember from a trip two, five, or ten years down the road.) I looked at him strangely, grabbed it and flipped to the last page.
It read, “the flight leaves at 2:45 on wednesday. why you ask? because I love you and you deserve a little fun.” I was beside myself; so excited and confused. And then I freaked out… I NEVER go anywhere without many weeks/months of planning, especially without my kids that I hadn’t left in almost two years. But, a few deep breaths and thoughts of a quiet weekend alone with my husband in some far away land and I was feeling much better. He refused to tell me where we were going. Just that it was a place we’d never been before and that I should pack like I was going to NYC in the spring. That I could do. Thankfully, after 15 years together, he knows me well and gave me a solid 48 hours to mentally prepare (and pack). He and my wonderful mother had been cooking up their plan for months. She had a big suitcase stashed in her car full of extra clothes, and was ready to hunker down with the kids for the whole week.
Wednesday afternoon he secretly stashed my passport in his carry-on and we hopped a plane and headed north. It was August and 105 degrees in Texas, but when we landed in Montreal the temp read 65 and it was heaven. Confident that the surprises were over I relaxed and we enjoyed 24 amazing hours just the two of us; sightseeing, eating, drinking and sleeeeeeeping! We arrived at dinner the next night and they greeted us “Fronk, party of 4?” “Nope!” I told them, that’s weird. The host grinned, told us our table would be ready in a bit, and suggested we grab a drink at a hotel across the street. When we walked into the bar there sat my beloved best friend from college. We live 1000 miles apart and only see each other once a year. She too had 2 babies at home and the best part, we SHARE a birthday! We ran up to each other, squealed a bit, ok, a lot, and turned to look at our crazy husbands. Hers had managed to pull off the exact same surprise. So there we were, just the 4 of us, sharing a birthday cocktail in the middle of Canada. My husband… the best kind of sneaky.
– my awesome travel-loving friend Jordan
My boyfriend and I live together, and dinnertime is never taken lightly. By planning our meals as a team, and cooking and eating together every night of the week, we’re guaranteed at least one hour of relaxing one-on-one time every day, and it’s a ritual that I treasure dearly.
— Chanel, executive producer for CS
We aren’t into the pomp and circumstance of trying to go out on Valentines day. We pick out a new, fancy dinner to make at home and buy a bottle of nice wine. Then, we make the dinner ahead of time and time it be done just after we put our son to bed. Then we set our table with nice dishes and music and have a leisurely (and adult!) dinner for two at our own house. As parents, it’s romantic to us to spend a night in at home. And we can splurge on the wine since we don’t have to pay for a sitter!
— Kelly, media director for CS
image from Ave Styles
Do something small that makes an impact.
One of my favorites examples of how adorable my husband is: I’m taking a long shower, trying to wash away my miserable sinus infection on a cold winter day, when I hear the door open. I’m already suspicious since my husband is known to be a prankster. “Hello?!” I say, and he responds, “I brought you a warm towel fresh out the dryer.” Out of pure sweetness, he decided to throw a towel in the dryer for me to have at this very moment, and it was so wonderful when drying off – like a big hug from my love!
— Eve Tarlo, my filmmaker friend
image from turkey towel company
Collect mementos of the times you’ve shared.
I like to keep tiny throw-away mementos from dates — the lift ticket from your first ski trip together, a ticket stub from a great concert, the note he left on your door in college. With the passage of time, these objects become sacred and can be incredibly romantic to gift back to the giver, especially years later. When I got back together with my college boyfriend (over a decade later!) we had both kept things for almost 15 years. You can only imagine the fun and romance of re-discovering these little treasures from our past together.
– anonymous CS team member
image from patrick ng flickr