Growing up watching strictly romantic comedies, I was obsessed with grand romantic gestures. I was under the impression that in order for a relationship to truly be deemed successful, it had to be filled with flowers and poems and massive declarations of love. Before I even knew what romance was, I had already defined it and put it in this small little box, certain that once I’d experienced romcom level love, I would be happy. Having now been in a relationship for the better part of a decade, I can confidently say that romance doesn’t always manifest in the ways we expect. There’s no one size fits all for how to show your partner you care, and just like each and every one of our personalities is unique, the way we express love is as well.
Sure, there are plenty of hopeless romantics out there that are going to continue to shout their love from the rooftops (and that’s great, don’t get me wrong), but for most of us, romantic gestures look a little bit different, and a lot more low-key. Here’s what I’ve learned.
True romantic gestures don’t expect recognition
Things like completing a chore you know your partner hates doing or saying no to other plans to stay in with your SO can often go unnoticed, but that’s okay! Gestures like these come from a place of love and make us feel good. In fact, many couples report feeling happy after performing a gesture whether it’s recognized or not. We do things for our partners to make their lives easier or their day a little better, and often knowing we’ve succeeded in doing so is all the recognition we need.
Less planning = more instinct
Sometimes we get caught up in planning something big and extravagant and we lose sight of the reason we wanted to do it in the first place: to show our partner we love and appreciate them. From my experience, the gestures that end up meaning the most are the ones that aren’t planned but come from instinct and routine. Things like kissing your partner goodbye and hello at the beginning and end of a workday, bringing home their favourite snack if you’re at the store, or even putting the toilet seat down in the washroom show your partner they’re always top of mind. Research into animal courtship and relationships shows us that most other species do this instinctually, showing a “set of positive, relationship-affirming rituals that take place consistently and daily.” Consistent small gestures like these show commitment, and what’s more romantic than that?
Not every gesture is story-worthy, nor should it be
Romantic gestures come in all shapes and sizes, and not all are going to result with an “oh my gosh you’ll never guess what so and so just did for me” call to your best friend. The gestures I find most romantic and thoughtful are usually things others might not even bat an eye to. Waking up to freshly brewed coffee every morning without asking, falling asleep without any blankets and waking up tucked in, being brought home ice cream even though you had just been arguing, or being sent an “I love you” text in the middle of the day for no reason. These gestures might be seen as ordinary from the outside looking in, but these small signs of affection are often worth more than any ‘grand’ gesture ever could be. Why? Because we feel cared for, and not just because a holiday or pressure to remain exciting forced it upon us.
The takeaway? Love isn’t always the glamorous whirlwind romance one might expect. As humans, we crave security and stability, and we don’t talk enough about how important these small gestures and rituals truly are in fostering happy and healthy relationships.