A little T.L.C. can go a long way.
Are women more romantic than men? Being a guy, the last things I’d want on Valentine’s Day or any other romantic holiday are flowers, chocolate or even jewelry. A massage, albeit pleasurable and sensual, doesn’t cut it, either.
Romance doesn’t seem to rouse my imagination. Maybe women are more romantic than men? But since I’m not 100 percent sure that I’m representative of my gender, it’s best to compare notes with other men.
So when I played cards with seven male friends a few nights ago, I polled them: “What is romance to a guy? What are some things men find romantic?”
Six of the seven answered as predicted and couldn’t come up with anything. The one who mulled it over a while before responding said, “Some kind of physical touch would be nice. A hug. Putting her arm around me. Just touching my shoulder.”
Given that I wasn’t comfortable settling on the stereotype that men are not romantically inclined, I began to reflect on what I’ve learned about men and romance being a psychotherapist, an occupation that often affords me the opportunity of talking about romance and relationships with men.
For example, a male client, George, in his early 40s was telling me about how he felt when his wife made specific requests, like what he could do to help her out. “All I want is to just make a difference. And when she tells me what I can do, she softens up and becomes more accessible to me, which makes me like her more.” I validated his experience by saying that what matters most is when she’s present, vulnerable and accessible.
George reminded me of a deeper truth that was also consistent with my experience in relationships: what men consider romantic and what they want more than anything else is to be seen, treated and responded to in a “special” way all of the time.
Romance is not so much about a one-time show of appreciation, acknowledgement or affection; it’s about small, everyday displays of love. Here are nine things men find romantic:
1. Express interest in what he’s thinking or feeling by asking him.
Asking self-reflective questions, allowing the time and space for him to answer, then talking so that he can elaborate will likely make him feel valued and that you care about him in a special way. Ideally, he may discover things or become aware of things about himself he rarely thinks about.