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Romance Reminders: Simple Ways to Turn up the Heat

When it comes to dating, here’s one thing you can count on: Everyone is looking for a romantic relationship that sizzles. No one actually prefers lukewarm leftovers to a fresh, hot gourmet meal. So why do so many relationships quickly begin to feel like they spend most of the time in the refrigerator wrapped in tin foil?

The answer lies in a bit of folk wisdom your grandmother told you when you were young: In any endeavor, you get out what you put in. Small effort yields small results. Too many singles expect chemistry alone to keep their relationships simmering. The truth is, you’ve got to fan the flames once in a while. Here are very simple yet surefire ways to send up some sparks.

1. Love Letters. In the 1989 film “Dead Poet’s Society,” Robin Williams plays an idealistic English teacher at a traditional boys’ prep school in New England. Nudging his students to think for themselves, he asks, “Language was developed for one endeavor—and that is…Mr. Perry?” “To communicate?” the hapless boy replies. “No!” the teacher responds. “To woo women!” Or to entice a man, for that matter. Want to light a fire under your romance? Put down your electronic gadgets for a few minutes, and get out a real piece of paper and a real pen. Handwrite a heartfelt letter to your partner. You don’t have to craft a Shakespearean sonnet—just say what’s on your heart. Then put the letter in a nice envelope and send it off. These days, receiving a personalized, handwritten letter in the mail is such a novelty, it’s sure to make an impression.

2. Quality Time (a.k.a Long Walks Together). Walking side by side, with no particular destination, is a kind of moving romantic meditation. The easy rhythm of walking settles our thoughts and feelings, and encourages openness. Typical dating distractions are absent on a long walk—traffic jams, loud music, the clatter of noisy restaurants. The purpose of dating is not to see how much frenetic activity you can pack into your time together. The real purpose is to focus your full attention on each other, sharing who you are and what you want in life and in a life partner. Every step you take can bring you closer to each other and to the romance you desire.

3. Homemade Dinners. Generating romantic heat with food you prepare yourself is becoming a lost art. An abundance of other options—supermarkets filled with readymade dinners, takeout restaurants on every corner—has given convenience the upper hand. But there is something subtly seductive about sitting down to a meal made especially with love in mind. It is a romantic offering of time, effort, and creativity that can kindle the fire of attraction like nothing else. To turn up the heat, get in the kitchen.

4. Imaginative Gift Giving. To qualify as “imaginative,” the gift must be unique and meaningful, as if it could only have been properly given to one person. It must help you say, “I truly see you—and I like what I see.” Such a gift requires attentiveness and observation and the effort to get it right. It’s not just a CD; it is a compilation of songs you made yourself. Not just any book; it is the latest by her favorite author. Notice his beloved bag of Kona coffee is almost finished? Leave a new one for him in the kitchen. If you see her favorite bottle of perfume is almost empty; go grab her a refill.

Romantic heat doesn’t happen by itself—it takes intentionality. Be the one to strike a match, and watch as the temperature rises.