Of all life’s lessons, the one my younger self wishes he had studied a bit harder is the machinations of the dating game.
Talking to members of the opposite sex, understanding their needs, communicating with clarity … it all seems so much easier now.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve met the woman of my dreams and we’re happily married, but looking back, I can’t help wondering how many missed romantic opportunities there were.
The 20/20 vision of retrospect helps you see all the letters on the chart – even the bottom row. But they’re still just letters without context. The weirdly abstract revisionist questions of ‘what if’ and ‘I wonder what would have happened’ aren’t very helpful, are they?
Perhaps that retrospect eye test is for a pair of rose-tinted glasses.
The real take-away here is that romance is actually pretty cool, doesn’t have to be cheesy and really does work. It also doesn’t have to only occur at the beginning of a relationship and shouldn’t focus on the ludicrously grand gesture.
So if you’re still single, I hope my pearls of romantic wisdom will help you on the hunt. And if you’re already with the person that makes your heart cartwheel, I’ll bet you’ll be able to apply these tips to the love you’ve already found.
10 awesome tips that make me wish I was still dating… kind of
- Know your Love Languages
The idea is that everyone shows and receives love within the boundaries of their own Love Language . There are five different Love Languages and if you’re not communicating with your partner in theirs, they might not understand or appreciate the message you’re trying to transmit.
Here’s more about Love Languages, what they mean, and how you can test yourself and your partner.
- Knowing what you want and who you are is important for your partner
Knowing yourself better means you’re more at ease, which makes communication better and makes you more confident. And this is appealing.
You don’t have to become Yoda or have found nirvana, but a bit of reflective self-evaluation can make a huge difference. If you’re at the stage in your relationship where you can talk deeply, chatting to your partner can help too. They often know you better than you do.
- Be upfront about your feelings
There’s very little point in hiding how you feel in a relationship. It always comes out in the end. And one way or another it means you’re both wasting your time. At the thin end of the wedge it means either being in the wrong relationship or not taking the relationship further.
Obviously still employ social buffers. There’s wearing your heart on your sleeve, and there’s tearing your sleeve off and throwing it at them.
- Chivalry never dies
Apart from the quaint and slightly misogynistic notion of ‘ladies first’, holding the door open for your partner, paying for their dinner or pulling a chair out for them to sit on is in fact a sign of thoughtfulness.
I think it’s often the measure of someone whether they’re considering you in their plans and how they can make your life easier with a simple gesture. And regardless of if you’re newly dating or long married, it’s the little things that have bigger meanings.
- Be yourself
If they don’t like it, it’s not going to be much fun for anyone when the real you comes out from behind whatever they thought you were. Especially if your partner isn’t a fan of the new/real you.
- Be nice to wait staff
Akin to chivalry, politeness to staff in restaurants and bars is all about manners. It’s an excellent personality litmus test: appropriate pleases and thank-yous, friendliness and an absolute absence of finger-snapping to whoever’s bringing you food and drink shows your level of common decency.
Of course, if doing this contravenes tip Number 5, you probably need to do more of tip Number 2.
- Don’t be too keen
People like puppies, but you don’t have to behave like one. On the other hand the tough/cold act works – but only in the movies. It’ll probably just put off the person you’re interested in completely.
This is a tip really only for those of you on the dating scene. By the time you’re married, your partner knows exactly what you’re like.
- It never happens like in the movies, so don’t try and ‘act’
I love watching couples argue in public. It’s like they’re acting out a scene in their favourite rom-com. The problem is, movies are scripted and characters behave in a way that moves the plot along.
Leave that stuff for the Young and the Restless. Just say what you need to say and don’t play games.
- It’s not all about the grand gestures
You don’t have to fly them to the top of the Eiffel Tower in a helicopter and have the whole of Paris spell out their name in its lights to show you care about someone. Of course, you can if you want (or can afford it), but a small, thoughtful act or gift will have the same impact. Maybe even more so.
It’s also about the everyday gestures and showing that your partner is in your thoughts that resonates. Ask yourself: will this make my partner’s life easier or bring them happiness? Because that’s what it’s all about.
And if you’re still not sure, ask your partner what they think romance means. Everyone’s got a different answer .
- Flowers work
Annoying as I find buying my wife flowers, they seem to have a magic hold over her. They might not be for everyone, but a beautiful bunch of her favourite blooms always brings a smile.
I just wish peonies were available for longer over the year in Australia. My life would be much easier.