You may be waiting for a moment that’s never going to come.
Remember the big finale in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days? Kate Hudson thinks the entire romance has been a lie. Heartbroken, she’s on her way out of town.
And then McConaughey realizes he loves her. He goes after her.
Scratch that. Like a vision straight from the pages of the best romance novel ever written, he mounts a motorcycle and races through New York at rush hour to catch her before she can hop on a plane.
It’s enough to make even the hard-hearted swoon. But, it’s also a mirage.
Movies, especially romantic comedies, whittle the highs and lows of relationships down to 90 minutes. That’s a tall order. To make it work, they exaggerate both extremes.
Romantic gestures are BIG. That’s why they tug on our heart strings. But they also saddle us with wildly unrealistic expectations.
Don’t get me wrong. Real relationships have highs and lows. That part is true.
But McConaughey stopping a cab on a New York bridge? John Cusack holding a boom box over his head outside his girlfriend’s window? An elderly Ryan Gosling faithfully sitting by his ailing wife’s bed every day?
Those things may happen in a real life romance, but they are once-in-a-lifetime events. Seeing it all come together (over and over) in 90-minute films makes it seem normal.
I’m not trying to spoil the fun of romance. Rather, I’m trying to point out something beautiful. Something you could miss if you don’t watch for it.
I’m not saying romance is dead. Far from it. You can and should expect the man in your life to sweep you off your feet.
All I’m saying is that real romantic moments aren’t going to look like the stuff you’ve seen on the big screen. They’re far more subtle.
Has he ever looked into your eyes just to tell you he loves you? Or held your hand when you were scared? Or hugged you just because he can?
That’s your McConaughey on the bridge.
No, it’s not as grand. In fact, it’s easy to blow off as no big deal. But those precious, quiet moments are more epic than many of us realize.
And here’s the really good news. You don’t get just one of those. You get a bunch. If you watch for them, there will be times when you get them daily.
A lifetime of small, meaningful gestures is worth way more than one or two big gestures in my book.
It’s totally okay to enjoy movies like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Just don’t get suckered into expecting your love life to mirror Kate Hudson’s.
Keep an eye out for the small stuff he says and does all the time. Find joy, comfort, and passion in those moments instead of holding out for a single, chart-topping romantic gesture.
Beautiful, it makes me miss my late husband. He would bring me flowers, sent flowers when he is not able to get them himself for no occasion. We were married for 31 years and he passed almost ten years and it seems just yesterday. He always made romantic gesture for 31 years. Thank you for reminding me.
Dearest Consuelo, so sorry for your loss. But as the article brought so elegantly, ” A lifetime of small, meaningful gestures is worth way more than one or two big gestures…” I thought my first husband was my One and Only. It started out with flowers sent for a daily lovefest. but then in our 28 years and two sons, a 30-career in the Marine Corps, we, unfortunately, grew apart. My second husband of 14 years had substance abuse demons that are ongoing. So here I am, twice divorced, two grown sons, 9 grandchildren, and starting over, finding the true essence of a 60something. You were blessed to be with the love of your life. I pray the man I am dating is a keeper. So far, so good, five months and growing stronger with God’s Grace…
What if he says he is in it for the long haul but hasn’t said I love you after 13 months? He is 54 never been married and I’m a widow of 10 yrs age 58.
Thank you James, your insight is very helpful I’m very appreciative
Such interesting timing since I was just thinking today of how much I miss a good night kiss, a hug at the sink as I do dishes, a daily “I love you,” snuggling on the couch while watching tv ( even football). My husband brought me flowers snd bouquets he made himself, since he taught horticulture. He booked a surprise flight in a hot air balloon once for our anniversary. He died four years ago, and the man renting part of my house gave me flowers last Valentines, but that’s it. He said he’s afraid I’ll fall in love with him, and he has had horrible experiences with women tricking him and getting pregnant. Of course he was an idiot to fall for it twice and not protect himself. I found 50 things we have in common when we first met, but they don’t matter if he can’t open his heart.
So beautiful! I feel really touched by your words, Michael. And yes, my man gives me those moments many times per day. So, so grateful for him… <3 <3
I am in a long distance relationship, and we’ve hit a wall with where things are going because he is not ready to move in together and feel fully committed yet. It’s been almost 2 years, but he is in grad school on the east coast, and I live on the west coast. When he could feel me pulling away to guard my heart and turn my focus inward instead of beating the whole “where is this relationship going” thing to a pulp, he immediately booked a flight out to see me (flew 3,000 miles for just 24 hours) to say he loves me and wants this to work. I know this big “grand gesture” is romantic and should feel good, but while it does feel great that he made this effort, I feel that it’s quixotic and the relationship still lacks the realistic thinking for a day-to-day life and long-term plan for us. Am I being selfish or missing something here? I really want those little moments too (the ones you have when you share your daily life together), but it’s not easily achievable with a long-distance relationship, and we are not addressing us moving in together (even though I’m ready for that step).
Hi Megan. It does sound like he is serious about building a long-term relationship with you. So that’s good. But I certainly understand why you feel frustrated in the meantime. Have you gone through my relationship guide called His Secret Obsession? In that guide, I explain a lot of what you’re going through. It has to do with the phase of life he’s in and what he feels he needs to achieve before he can “win” at being the man he thinks you want him to be.
Hi Megan, I can relate to what you are going through. It is certainly not an easy situation. When you say you are ready to move in together, where do you actually SEE that happening? Would you move to be with him or expect him to move to be with you? As he is in grad school, he can hardly move to be near you at the moment. Is it possible for you to take another job and move nearer him? Have you considered doing that and taking an apartment or whatever near him, rather than actually moving in with him? That may give you both the breathing space he obviously wants, so he can see whether he wants to take it a step further and move in together eventually. I assume that as it is a long distance relationship, you will not have seen that much of each other. 2 years is not long, in those circumstances, to really get to know each other. You sound like a thinker. Try not to dwell on it too much, over think and make a big issue of it, thereby putting more pressure on him and making him anxious, as well as yourself. He has enough to worry about just getting through school. Just be grateful that he says he loves you and wants it to work out, for now. Allow things to flow naturally, without causing too much stress. On the other hand, if you are anxious to start the whole “happy families” scenario, and if you feel that time is running out for you, maybe it IS time that you started looking elsewhere. But think very carefully before you do something you may regret in the future. I wish you the best of luck and a good, happy outcome. (Sending you a big hug!) Lorna x
Thank you Lorna! Your reply is helpful 🙂 (I appreciate the big hug too! :))
You’re welcome. Glad it was of help. Let us know what you decide! You look so sweet in your picture, like one of my three daughters. It’s not nice to be hurting, is it? And I hope it doesn’t continue for long. Let’s hope for a happy outcome. Be positive. Concentrate on the now, and work towards the future and on a good outcome. As I’ve said before, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!! I only remember that I chased away my fiancee 45 years ago, when I put pressure on him to get engaged after 21/2 years, before he was really ready. But in our case, we saw each other almost every day, and he didn’t seem to be in any hurry – just jogging along comfortably – he living at home with his Mum and me in the YWCA hostel. We didn’t live together in those days, before marriage. In hindsight, I should have bided my time – but I was young and inexperienced and eager to get on with life. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!! In the event, I rushed straight into marriage a year later with my now ex-husband, which was probably a mistake. We stayed together almost 40 years, but there was not much love and affection there for me. I now feel a bit short-changed, but then it was my choice. The moral is, don’t rush into anything!! Lx
I was at work and my boyfriend was driving to his job, when he pulled off the highway to call me.
“I want to make it official,” he said.
” I told everyone at work last night that I was getting married and I want to make it official.”
“So who are you marrying?” I asked.
“I want to marry YOU!”
“Oh, you do, huh? This is SO not romantic!” I replied, kinda disappointed after all the big sweeping gestures they show on TV and you read in the engagement sections of the papers.
“I know,” he said, “but I just couldn’t WAIT!”
Now THAT was romantic and I said yes!
And we’re living happily ever after…
This post shares the same message as the movie Don Jon.
So good to hear that! We indeed have too romantic expectations due to Hollywood movies and romances we watched and read during our life. So if the guy isn’t doing such big gestures we just think we don’t have enough.
Yesterday my boyfriend asked me to drink a coffee with him in our little cofee shop around the corner, we both didn’t have much time, but he just wanted to see me. We had a small talk, nothing really important, but suddenly he stopped talking, he gently his hand on my cheek and looked very affectionate into my eyes. It felt so very romantic, intimate and sweet. Those gesture was definitely my McConaughey on the bridge.
That is so sweet. Enjoy it
My boyfriend knows I love a certain kind of donut. Sometimes we meet for lunch or just to sit in the park and chat during the busy weekdays. Never fails, he always shows up with a little brown bag and my favorite kind of donut. We always end up sharing, because it’s his favorite kind too, but the gesture is so unbelievably loving and sweet. It has morphed into our little birthday tradition where we light a single candle in the favorite donut, and we sing for the other. I would not want to spend my birthdays any other way.
In contrast, I came out of a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship, where my ex spouse would perhaps be out running errands, would stop to pick up lunch somewhere for himself and even the kids. He would come home, everyone would unpack their fast food lunch, and I would be the only one at the table with nothing. I would say “wow…nothing for me?” And he would respond, “I didn’t think you were hungry.” I would say, “it would have been nice for you to call and ask.” And his response, “here, have one of my French fries.”
Well at least the kids were fed? Some guys don’t give two shits about their children either. Happy to hear you’ve happily moved on.
And it’s important to realize that it’s those small moments in a consistent pattern that tell you your man cherishes you. Too many men treat women like sh*t in a daily basis, then pull of a grand gesture thinking it exonerates them. If those epically small moments are missing, then sadly, he probably does not value you.
Very good point, Mary. The small things speak of both the good and the bad.
And it’s important to acknowledge those moments when they come. I’ve forgotten to do that too often.
Yes, very true, Nancy!! Men are sensitive creatures, too, and need to know that their romantic gestures have been noticed and appreciated – otherwise they won’t bother!! And it cuts both ways – he needs romance, too, in his life.
For me – it is the fact that my man – who is struggling with a drink problem due to his circumstances over the past 12 or so years – has said he is making a big effort to overcme it. Over the last three and a half years, since being together, he has made numerous typically traditional romantic gestures – all of them lovely – but that one to me shows that he cares enough to, at least, TRY to give up the most precious tihng in his life – otherwise he will lose me. I’m keeping my fingers and toes FIRMLY crossed!! Lorna