Perhaps that’s not the declaration you expect from a woman dedicated to happily ever afters. But please don’t take it to mean I’ve grown jaded because real life isn’t like romance books, or even that I believe guys can’t be romantic.

I simply think many women are disappointed when we don’t score the “romantic” goods and services because few of us identify, let alone articulate and ask for our real emotional needs to be fulfilled. It might be a little humiliating to admit, but maybe, just maybe, guys can’t get it right because we secretly, stubbornly maintain the “If he loved me, he’d prove it by just knowing what pleases me” fantasy benchmark of relational success.

Family therapist and relationships expert Terry Real says what lots of contemporary women don’t realize is guys today want to be better partners, husbands, dads and lovers – even more romantic. But they were brought up by “keep it all inside and be manly” dads who ruled their home/castles.  Contemporary men can be confounded when interacting with today’s women, who’ve learned well in the last 25 years or so how to “find” and use their voices.

In “The New Rules of Marriage  ,” Real’s extraordinary book for couples in any phase of commitment and intimacy, he advises women and men not to simply tell partners why they’re not getting things right, i.e. not being romantic or sexy, etc.  Rather, Real says we need to learn to make statements about what we want, leaving out anything to do with past or future.  

So instead of “You never surprise me with anything romantic on Valentine’s Day and I told you a decade ago when you bought me those flowers I was allergic to that…” why not try, “I love Valentine’s Day, and it makes me so happy when you take me to dinner and buy me a little piece of jewelry.  It makes me feel romantic, and makes me want to make you feel that way later. I’d like you to do those things for me this year.”

Please allow me to change your life by disabusing you of that notion. Even the best guys who are organized enough to hold down jobs, pay the bills and care for families admit they’re boneheads at retaining real-life details, even when it comes to the women they adore.  So if your goal is to be pleased by the man you love, your choices in how to make it so are limited. Keep doing it the way you have and be disappointed. Or start spelling out exactly what you want and how he can give it to you.*

But that’s not romance! you murmur, pouting, trying to keep that sad ol’ sinking ship afloat.  You’re right, it’s not. It’s respect.  And it’s consideration for our partners’ needs in trying to please us.  Those build way more intimacy in the short term than love lessons learned painfully and by rote. And in the long run, they may even get us more of the flowery, sparkly, champagne-and-chocolaty stuff of romance we covet.

How do you define romance or romantic?  How do you get what you want from your partner? How’s that working for you?

*If you really want to make sure you get what you want, ask a mutually beloved friend to gently remind your guy of upcoming romantic occasions. Several times if necessary. And help him hit it out of the ballpark: Tell him the name of a woman you know whom he always can go to to find out what you’d love for a gift – and keep her up to date!

Michelle Buonfiglio writes daily about romance fiction at BN’s Heart to Heart and and Tuesdays at BN’s Unabashedly Bookish. Buonfiglio also authors the popular RBTB NEWs romance e-newsletter.

by PrincessBumblebee on ‎02-10-2010 03:04 PM

QB, I don't have a honey, but if I did, I think this would be a great book to read! I mean, after all, it's been said time and again that men are different than women, so therefore, we think differently. And, let's face it, not all of us can remember everything about everyone, even our closest friends!

Everyone has different ideas of romance. I think, though, romance is not only flowers and chocolates, but taking you to your favorite band's concert complete with backstage passes or just watching the stars and having a picnic. Simple things like that. Or, better yet,  buying you a signed copy of your fave author's latest release! Talk about romantic!

But, hey, communication is the key! You must let them know what you want! Give and take!

by MalePerspectiveGuy on ‎02-10-2010 07:01 PM



This is a wonderful post about the reality of love, marriage, and bonehead husbands. For me, authentic romance is found not in actions or words, but in the way two people look at each other. Like the wonderfully shared smile at a daughter's dinner comment that shows she's starting to grow up. Or how you look at each other after one has said something genuinely funny. Those are moments of true romance for me.


Now, I have learned that a nice piece of jewelry goes a long way, too. And those should always continue. But gifts are sincere expressions of love and romance. They are not, in and of themselves, romance. 


Thanks for this post, Michelle. I loved it.



by MalePerspectiveGuy on ‎02-10-2010 07:03 PM

Oh, and by the way, we have a 5:30pm dinner reservation Saturday night.

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎02-10-2010 07:15 PM

Hi MPG, are you sure you want to be where there's even more snow than Chicago? My husband is Denver where there is currently less snow than Cincinnati. I'm feeling very grumbly and sick of winter. I'm all for relocating to a tropical island, right about now.


We don't do much for Valentine's Day, but we are both very competitive when it comes to finding the perfect card. We now go for three each, and we try to find the ones that fit us the best. Weird that someone who makes cards knows what to write!

by 1lovealways on ‎02-10-2010 07:16 PM

Hi Michelle!


I'm a romantic at heart and I love romantic things and gestures.  I love chocolates, flowers, jewelry (especially diamonds & pearls), music and books. 


I'm unattached, but if I were in a relationship, I like the little things.  Quiet moments together, small intimate dinners, picnics on a spring day and just plain old laughing and enjoying each others company.  Shoot, sitting on the couch watching tv cuddled together is romantic, depending on your outlook. 


 I think communication and honesty are two key ingredients in a romance.  I also love surprises, but I'd settle for just hearing those three little words.  I love you.  I think having someone commit their life to you and you commit yours to them is the most romantic thing anyone could ever do.  It's saying I want to share everything with you.  The good and the bad and everything in between.  How romantic is that?


Happy Valentine's Day! :smileyhappy:

by Author Eva_Gale on ‎02-10-2010 09:05 PM

Wow, that book looks great. And your post is awesome. Acting in a way and expecting a different result is the way of insanity. 


I am the nost NON romantic person ever so I've very easy to please. I hate cards, I don't like flowers (they die-give me a plant), I don't wear jewelry and all I require is a couple of "I love you" s scattered through the week. My mother swears I will one day come to love and cherish these things but so far, no. 


I love dinners out, but I don't need them (they were more important when the kids were smaller and I didn't talk to an adult for hours of the day). I'm satisfied with him being there next to me every night and laughing together. He cracks me up (and I love making him laugh), we have these awesome kids is good. 

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎02-11-2010 09:17 AM

Michelle, you've once again hit the nail on the head with your thought provoking article and why not bash our heads with it 3 days before V day. As many of you know I've been married over 30 years to the same man and he's still among the living, although sometimes I'm awfully tempted to end his life. But even with all the joking and cursing that I do about him I know he loves me and that I'm his everything, but I'm not naive enough to believe that a 66 year old man will be changing his spots any time too soon. So it's not always in the deeds he does, but just knowing that he calls me at work to make sure I arrived safely or just by going to the grocery store when I'm too tired or too lazy or all the other zillions of things he does just because. The baubles have slowed down in our twilight years together, but the diamonds of our love still shine brightly.


BTW if you're ever in the need of fast cash you could definitely rent out MPG, he'd bring in a bucket o'dollars. ;-)

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!!


by Moderator becke_davis on ‎02-11-2010 12:36 PM

Check out our wedding pictures here:

by on ‎02-11-2010 01:55 PM


by 1lovealways on ‎02-11-2010 05:56 PM

Beautiful pictures.  I love weddings!  :smileyhappy:


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