Men of the world, you are probably familiar with the following scenario: Somehow or another, you have been suckered into watching a movie you regard as the most grueling two hours of nonsense imaginable (read: romance movie), next to a woman you want to impress. Maybe it’s a first date, a steady girlfriend, or your wife. Regardless, she chose the film, and now you are in it until the closing credits.

Despite your prayers for a swift and uneventful viewing, the woman beside you – who only an hour or so ago seemed a perfectly sensible human being – is now blubbering at some cheesy train wreck on the screen.

We all know how the rest of the evening will play out. Accusing glares. The cold shoulder, maybe? And when you try to ask what’s wrong (or worse, leave her to her misery), the wrath ensues.

She won’t articulate exactly what your crime was. She doesn’t want to. If she has to spell it out for you, the whole point would be missed. The only thing you have to work with for the time being is that she is disgusted with you and you have no idea where in the world you went wrong.

It doesn’t seem fair, does it?

 

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Well, I’m about to spill your sweetheart’s secret. The one she hoped you would figure out on your own.

She wants you to pursue her. Remember that old-fashioned word “courting?” That’s what she wants. Not sure what that means in this day and age? Here are some examples from the cheesy romance movies your lady has likely forced you to watch:

1 | The time in “Say Anything” when Lloyd Dobler holds up the boom box outside Diane’s house. (This one is the gold standard, by the way.)

2 | The way Ryan Gosling looks at any woman his character has a romantic interest in.

3 | When Billy Crystal crashes the New Year’s Eve party in “When Harry Met Sally” and explains why she is so perfect for him because of her imperfections.

4 | The scene in “Love Actually” when Jamie surprises Aurelia at work to propose in her native Portuguese, surrounded by the entire village.

5 | The scene in “Sixteen Candles” when the cars pull away and there stands Jake Ryan, ready to whisk Samantha away to give her the birthday attention she has been pining for.

Alright, I have clearly aged myself with the examples above, but I’m willing to bet that those scenes would reduce a woman of any generation to a hot mess. There is a very specific reason why. In each of the aforementioned scenarios, the man goes out of his way, casts his pride aside, and shows without any chance of misunderstanding that the woman he desires is the most captivating, illuminating, full-fleshed embodiment of his every want and need that he has ever encountered.

Maybe you are turned off by this. Maybe you don’t quite feel that intensely about your partner. If that’s the case, you’re in a whole other situation that we don’t have time for today.

Let’s say you do truly love your woman. She’s the one for you. But, this is not how you roll and no thank you.

Let’s dive into that, shall we?

What your woman wants, what she craves, is your effort. Your lady wants the satisfaction of knowing that she is someone worth working for. This may seem like an archaic notion, but I am not referring to the stereotypical male-provider-and-breadwinner model of thought.

It is the effort of pursuit, of seeking to know your woman intimately. What are her fears, her dreams, her secrets, and her flaws? What are her idiosyncratic aspects that cannot be found in another person ever? What is her siren call?

Too fluffy for you? Well, you did choose her after all. There is something about her that drew you to her in the beginning that separates her from the pack. Build from that.

Maybe you worry you can’t live up to her expectations of romance. If that’s the case, here is the basic guideline:

Your romantic gesture needs to be genuine, unexpected, unsolicited, and you should deliver it when she needs it the most.

If that seems like a Herculean task, fear not. My husband, who is a wonderful human being with countless admirable qualities, could never be accused of being 100 percent in tune with the female psyche. He is a jock, a man’s man through and through. Candle light dinner? Forget it. Serenade in public? Not in this lifetime.

But despite his romantic disinclinations, he did manage to pull off one of the most authentic pursuits of my heart I have ever experienced.

It was my first day back at work after our daughter was born. She was four months old, and my heart hurt from dropping her off at daycare. All I longed for was more time home with her. I was in full on survival mode as I braced myself for my first day back in the trenches in a classroom full of other peoples’ children when all I could think of was my own.

The tears welled up in my eyes but I managed to keep them hidden as I muscled through the routine and distractions. There was a knock at the door. Our school secretary was holding an arrangement of flowers with a beaming smile on her face. When I opened the attached card, it read, “I know these flowers aren’t as beautiful as our baby girl. But I hope they bring a smile to your face. I love you.”

My husband meant those words. I was not expecting to receive anything from him that day. I didn’t ask for it. But I really needed it.

That’s the punch that delivers. Understand who she is and what she wants. Wait for the right moment, and shock the hell out of her.

You don’t have to do it that often. It may even be inadvisable, as it may become exhausting to all involved. But I promise, if you sneak one in every so often, dividends will be paid. Not only will you earn the adoration and loyalty of a lady who feels cherished, you will come to learn how plentifully she can repay the favor in kind.