Romance novels and sappy movies play a much more important role in your relationship than you might think. Since the time before their first kiss, women have grown up learning the ways of romance from less than ideal sources. I’m sure you’ve dated countless women who have had heart-shaped glasses that clouded their vision and raised expectations to lofty heights; your current lady might even be a victim of the idealization of what your relationship is, could be or will be.
As a man of the world, you’ve no doubt learned a few of the romantic cliches and even used them for your own gain when you’ve had a woman to win over. Knowing the ins and outs of her romance fantasies can indeed give you an edge, but be warned: Just because she has a few feminine notions, it doesn’t mean you can always take her literally and take advantage. Read on for a few of her most cherished love myths and the dangers that await should you make the mistake of taking them at face value.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
This is a big one, and it’s the one that gets thrown around the most. The idea that time apart is great for relationships and missing each other can only bring you closer is great in theory, but be careful how you view the word “absence.” While it can be applied to skip a routine Thursday night dinner every once in a while to whet her appetite for your next date, it certainly can’t be invoked to excuse your month-long golf tour of the Western states. Missing your significant other can work wonders, but a woman’s definition of absence is a lot shorter than most men’s, so you’ll have to tread lightly to make sure you don’t veer off into other “A” words — most notably abandonment.
Reality: To make this myth work for you, you need to make sure that she still thinks positively when you aren’t around. A trip away for the weekend with the boys can be a lot easier for her to handle (with the possibility of letting you do it again without complaint) if you find five minutes to send her a quick text or even have flowers delivered the day you leave to remind her of you. What it comes down to isn’t whether or not she needs you around 24 hours a day, she just needs to know that she’s on your mind regardless of where you are.
Love conquers all
If John Lennon can convince the world that all you need is love, maybe it really is true, right? Wrong. Rose-colored glasses might seem to get you past some early stumbling blocks, like being different religions or having differing politics, but fundamental challenges can be enough to undermine even the most loving couple. Just because your differences don’t seem like a big deal on date number five, don’t underestimate the extra work that this kind of pairing requires; ignoring the obvious won’t get you anywhere.
Reality: Solid relationships are built on many different foundations, and unfortunately many of those foundations are necessary and can’t be glossed over because of passion or lust. It can take a lot of effort to not only keep it together, but to also present a united front for a world that might not make it easy. To make this myth become a reality, which is completely possible, you’ll need to be prepared in advance for obstacles, like holiday celebrations for differing religions or different vacation possibilities for couples with big income differences. Taking note of the implications is the first step to overcoming boundaries — long-term planning is the only way to avoid running into major road blocks later on.
Love is blind
Just because your lady won’t readily admit to judging you based on your appearance, rest assured that she knows what you look like and has feelings about how you present yourself. There is no way she won’t notice if you gain 25 pounds or decide to compete for the Guinness record for longest toenails, so don’t use this myth as a foundation for letting yourself go and giving up just because you landed the woman of your dreams.
Reality: Even though we like to believe that love, like beauty, isn’t only skin deep, your lady has every right to expect some level of maintenance, even after the initial stages of dating. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you’ll be forced into slave labor at the local gym in a quest for the ideal abs, but it does mean that you will need to make reasonable efforts to keep up your looks and remain at least recognizable as the man she agreed to date and fall in love with. I’m sure you’d like it to work both ways, so set a good example.
Actions speak louder than words
For as long as there has been romantic poetry and heartfelt love letters, there has been a large faction of society that touts the idea that manly men can simply express their feelings through actions — you know, the strong and silent type. While actions are important, women put a great deal of importance on the words — it’s your job to find a happy medium because it’s just as true that simply laying it on thick verbally doesn’t make up for lackluster actions on your part.
Reality: She might put more stock in how you treat her on a day-to-day basis than she does on what you write inside her birthday card, but that doesn’t excuse you from ever whispering sweet and endearing comments to your lady. If you can’t stomach daily confessions of your innermost feelings, you can start with vocalizing the actions. Try letting her know that you washed her car for her because you knew she was busy, rather than just washing her car without a word.
Birds of a feather flock together
So you think you’ve found the perfect girl: She likes the same sports as you, has the same interest in hiking and likes the same Friday night bar. Shared interests can seem intoxicating to any man who has spent 45 minutes arguing about watching the game versus watching Extreme Makeover, but dating your twin isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Reality: If you focus too much on the few things you have in common, you might both miss out on red flags in other areas of your relationship or you could end up dating someone who feels more like a friend and activity partner than a lover if you don’t connect on more intimate levels. Plus, while diverse couples don’t always adopt every new interest the other brings to the table, most will tell you that being exposed to new things can be a great way to bond and expand your horizons. Having shared interests can be a definite boost in the early stages of dating, but they aren’t going to propel you through an entire relationship.
It’s the thought that counts
Yes, it can be true that the thought might be more important than the follow-through or lack thereof in many cases. Wanting to surprise her with tickets to the concert of her favorite band is admirable, even if you weren’t able to score any before they sold out. Don’t be fooled though, there is a statute of limitations on thoughts versus actions, and no woman can be strung along on empty promises forever.
Reality: Pulling the excuse of tried and failed too many times will just make you seem like someone who is all talk and no action. It’s vital that you pull through at least half of the time or you’ll risk being labeled as the person who disappoints her, which is going to be a surefire deal-breaker for most relationships. If a plan doesn’t work out, there’s no reason to let her in on it every time, sometimes sharing your intentions with her could make her feel disappointed rather than grateful.
Love doesn’t cost a thing
Women the world over have been wooed and won by men with meager pay checks, and many will say that a gift that costs a dollar or a dinner that costs only $10 often rivals the most expensive restaurants and jewelery stores. This doesn’t give you the excuse of consistently shopping for birthday gifts at the dollar store or insisting on dinners that come in Styrofoam containers at every opportunity; balance is the key. No woman will expect you to break the bank every time, but none want to date a penny-pincher.
Reality: If there is sentiment and thoughtfulness behind it, even the most frugal can be captivating. Lavishness doesn’t always win hearts based solely on dollar signs; as long as you aren’t fixated on the costs or splurge as much as you save, your lady can appreciate being treated by someone who has his finances in order.
While romance and relationships go hand in hand, it’s in your best interest not to let the cinematic myths of courtship get in the way of the reality of your relationship. Finding a happy medium between her Julia Roberts fantasy and your Jack Black reality can seem impossible, but taking the time to indulge the movie-worthy mythical fantasies of your girlfriend can pay off. In moderation and with a healthy dose of reality, you can make sure you both end up satisfied and avoid becoming romance roadkill.