Okay all you men out there, Valentine’s Day is 10 days away so there’s still time. You can make this day the most memorable ever for your significant other, and you don’t necessarily have to spend a dime. Sure, diamonds are great, and roses are lovely, and chocolate is wonderful (although, personally, I spend the entire time I’m eating it awash in a sea of self-loathing). But contrary to what the advertisers tell you, it’s not about gifts. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: what most women really want is the grand gesture.
You see extreme versions of this in every chick flick you’ve attempted to avoid throughout your life. It’s when Richard Gere climbs the fire escape for Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman despite his fear of heights. It’s when Adam Sandler serenades Drew Barrymore on the airplane in the Wedding Singer. It’s when Dustin Hoffman bangs on the window at the back of the church to break up Katherine Ross’ wedding in the Graduate and they run away together. It’s when Billy Crystal runs through the streets of New York to find Meg Ryan and declare his love on New Year’s Eve in When Harry Met Sally.
You don’t necessarily have to go to such an extreme. What all these gestures, and in fact any grand gesture has in common is this: it says, “I was thinking about you when you weren’t there.” “I heard you when you said what you need or want.” “I want to make you feel special.” “I care about what’s important to you.” and most of all, “You matter to me more than anyone else in the world.”
The reason women love these chick flicks is that we’re quite often starved for these messages in real life. But you can change that so easily. All you have to do is give it a little thought and make a little effort. Ask yourself what the person you love is into. What do they like? Or what causes them the most stress and how can you remove that stress, if only for one night? For example, at this moment in time, as tired as I am, I think the most romantic thing in the world would be to come home and find that someone had vacuumed and mopped the floors and wiped down the counter tops. It’s not going to happen, but it would be so wonderful if it did. But I certainly wouldn’t say no to a serenade or a foot rub, or even movie night curled up on the couch with pizza. Take me to the beach and write something romantic in the sand. Draw me a picture. Take me on a picnic even though you think they’re silly. If the most important thing in my life is my annoying little dog, do something nice for my annoying little dog. Do something I’m interested in that you wouldn’t normally do yourself. Be willing to make a fool of yourself. Just once.
I think the most amazing grand gesture of all time was when Jack Nicholson told Helen Hunt, “You make me want to be a better man” in As Good as it Gets. If someone sincerely sent me that message, they’d have me for life, because what he was really saying was, “You matter so much to me that I’m willing to try to improve, even though I’ve never really wanted to make that effort before.” That, gentlemen, is the ultimate Valentine.