zenhabits : breathe

50 Ways to Be Romantic on the Cheap

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on twitter .

Often my articles on family are about spending time with your kids, but today we’ll talk about another important aspect of families: couples. If you’ve got a significant other, I highly recommend you keep the spark of your relationship alive and find ways to show you appreciate each other, every week and every day, if possible.

Look for little, inexpensive ways to be romantic, and it will pay off for your relationship in innumerable ways.

Why inexpensive? Well, you could rent a limo and take your love to a snooty French restaurant, or whisk him or her off to a trip to the snow-capped Alps, or rent a stadium and have the Three Tenors sing love songs for you while the New York Philharmonic plays in the background. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to do that kind of stuff more than a few times a month. The rest of the time, I have to resort to cheaposity.

Before we get into the list, let’s look at a few notes on how to use the list:

  1. Weekly dates. I recommend you have a date at least once a week with your partner. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one, but at least find some way to spend a couple hours time together. If you’ve got kids, like I do, find a babysitter.
  2. Communicate. Romantic gestures don’t take the place of real communication. Take time to talk about your goals, your dreams, your plans for the future, your current lives, things you’re happy about, things you love about the other person, things you’d like to work on, things you’re grateful for.
  3. Inspiration. This list contains a lot of obvious stuff — you could probably come up with twice as many good ideas yourself. But the list doesn’t aim for originality — it aims to be an inspiration. Pick and choose some good ideas, or use it to spark some of your own. Sometimes we just need a little reminder.
  4. Forget Valentines. Boycott Valentine’s Day, as it makes people think they should be romantic on special occasions. Instead, pick one of these ideas and do it any day of the week — no need for a special occasion.

OK, enough talk. Let’s look at some ways to be romantic without breaking your budget (note to my mom: don’t read this, as there are a couple of sexy-time things later on):

  1. Write a poem.
  2. Cook a romantic dinner.
  3. Give a full-body massage.
  4. Pack a sunset picnic.
  5. Pick wildflowers on the way home.
  6. Burn a CD with love songs.
  7. Give dark chocolates.
  8. Read poetry together.
  9. Prepare strawberries with fondue chocolate.
  10. Snuggle together on a rainy day.
  11. Leave little love notes everywhere.
  12. Send a love email every day.
  13. Take a moonlit walk on the beach.
  14. Snuggle together while watching romantic movies (Casablanca, Audrey Hepburn are my favs).
  15. Get good wine, watch shooting stars.
  16. Take a bath together (use bubbles!).
  17. Bring home good coffee or a decadent sweet.
  18. Take a walk down memory lane — visit some of the special places from your early days of dating.
  19. Make warm chocolate cake for dessert.
  20. Make a scrapbook with photos, mementos, and little notes from you lives together.
  21. Kiss in the rain.
  22. Ride a ferris wheel.
  23. Sneak away from a party and make out.
  24. Bring home great take-out, and light some candles.
  25. Fix something or fix up the house just to make your partner happy.
  26. Slow dance to romantic music.
  27. Take a nap together.
  28. Kiss slowly, touching his or her back and neck and nape — slowly.
  29. Make a list of everything you love about him or her.
  30. Write a love letter.
  31. Clip or email things that make you think of him or her, every day.
  32. Go to a movie, ignore the movie, and make out like teen-agers.
  33. Groom yourself, and try to look good for your partner.
  34. Take some quiet time and talk about your day.
  35. Write little notes, one for each way he or she drives you crazy.
  36. Feed each other grapes.
  37. Recreate your partner’s favorite romantic movie scene.
  38. Pretend you’re going on a first date — show up at the door with flowers, all dressed up, with your car washed and cleaned, looking spiffy. Recreate the first time.
  39. Create a little box with a bunch of your partner’s favorite things inside.
  40. Paint each other with flavored body paint. Be creative!
  41. Try some sexy role-playing. Get dressed up, be daring, have fun.
  42. Give a little token to your partner to wear, and say it’s to remind him or her all day that you love them.
  43. Sing a favorite song to him or her. Only do this if you can sing fairly well.
  44. Have dinner on the roof, with some candles. This doesn’t work if your roof slopes sharply.
  45. Hold hands, and walk somewhere with lots of pretty lights.
  46. Say I love you. In a different way, every day.
  47. Blindfold your partner. Use a feather. Slowly.
  48. Declare your love, very publicly.
  49. Fruit or berries and freshly made whipped cream.
  50. Play Sade. Do what comes naturally. Slowly.


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