I've never been a big fan of flowers. All in all, it seems like an immensely inefficient gesture, at least for the purposes of wooing. It's pricey, it's showy and frankly, there are a lot better (and cheaper) things you can do to impress a lady. Flowers may be an easy fallback for classic chumps who want to play it safe, but that's not for you. You are suave, smart and sharp – you can think of something better.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Listen, Remember, Purchase, Repeat
The point of flowers is to show that you care – and that's the danger in buying them. More often than not, a guy only buys flowers because he's screwed up by being his normal jerk-self. In this way, flowers become a way of making up for not being thoughtful, rather than the thoughtful act in itself.
To circumvent all of this, give being considerate a try. Listen to what she talks about on a day-to-day basis. What does she complain about? What does she obsess over? What does she linger over while flipping through catalogs? What does the guy in the movies do that makes her smile?
Take notice of the things that she says in passing and surprise her later by remembering. If she sees something she likes while window shopping, get it for her without her asking. If she mentions how much she loves Fall, plan a walk through the woods while the leaves are changing. If she's stressing about how messy her car is, surprise her by having it washed and vacuumed the next time she gets in.
Tip: Hard to tell what she's into? Ask. Not all girls are the type to expound on their wants and whimsies (sometimes it seems self-absorbed) but by asking her about yourself, you get the double bonus of learning what makes her tick while showing that you are genuinely interested in her.
2. Wearing an Apron is Romantic – and Cheap
Any dude with a job can buy a meal. Any birthday boy with a check from grandma can take a girl out to a semi-fancy restaurant. But it takes true style and dedication to whip something up yourself.
Cooking is an especially meaningful gesture if making dinner is normally her duty or if you usually eat out. Eating alone in the comfort of your own home has an intimacy that far exceeds being crammed shoulder-to-shoulder at the Cheesecake Factory. Plus, as Trent from The Simple Dollar points out, “a wise food preparer can make a delicious meal without a strong financial cost.”
By tying on the apron and taking charge, you are showing that you are willing to take initiative and exert a bit of extra effort for the sake of romance. You are saving money and adding a personal touch to a mundane daily event.
Tip: Don't be overambitious. Maybe start off with something simple, like pasta or steaks. You won't impress anyone by setting the kitchen on fire.
3. The Lost Art of Picnicking
A favorite of Frugal eBooks author Devin Hansen, packing a picnic touts all the benefits (and savings) of home-cooking mixed with a bit of adventure. Says, Hansen, “Picnicking is a lost art, and it doesn't take that much work. Instead of packing up a picnic basket, simply go to the store together and purchase your meal – a banana, a pre-packaged sandwich, some chips and a drink. Then head to the nearest park and enjoy.”
Picnicking slows down the act of eating, a concept that is almost completely lost on a culture that stops to eat like cars stop along the highway to get gas. By dedicating the afternoon to a picnic, you give yourself license to take it easy and enjoy the outdoors and each other's company.
Tip: For added romance, make it a night picnic. Go somewhere remote where you can be alone and watch the stars.
4. Shape Up
There are a couple things you do that really bug her. Smoking. Leaving your socks all over. Forgetting to call. Getting the bathroom floor all wet. Having a porno-stasche. These are the little things about yourself that you can change in order to show that you have it in you to be someone she can put up with.
For a lot of guys, these battles and annoyances are too petty to be picked up on the radar, and thus are never addressed. True, stuff like this is small potatoes, but repeated daily over the course of a few years can be quite grating on a relationship.
Seemingly teeny personal sacrifices like taking better aim at the toilet or giving up the goatee can actually help your relationship turn the corner. Breaking habits is hard, and if you do it for her sake, it shows that you value your relationship more than your vices.
Tip: Don't gloat about your small victory. Let her notice that you've shaped up. Otherwise, it'll be obvious that you are just doing it to score points.
5. Go for a Walk
This is a great way to reconnect, especially or those who are cohabitating. When you share a household, it's easy to get caught up in the daily grind of chores and then zonking out in front of television. You almost become like co-workers, rather than mates.
It's important to take initiative to encourage your other half to take a step back from the routine and reconnect. A walk can be a welcome timeout, a way to get out of the house without spending money or being overstimulated.
If you need a clearer objective than merely chilling out, take a walk in a state park with a camera or collect wildflowers to put in a vase (see, you're getting flowers, too, but without the cost!).
Tip: Too lazy to walk? Then do something else to block out the distractions and focus on each other. Click off the TV, shutdown the computer and try having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine somewhere in the house where you can relax.
6. Write a Note
At the end of the day, all of these small things and affectionate acts are only that – gestures. Instead of trying to say something via flowers or fancy meals, why not just come out and say it? Put pen to paper and write her something heartfelt and genuine, but not too over the top. Avoid Shakespearian hyperbole or any other kind of break from your own natural voice. Tell her plainly and honestly what you like about her and how you feel. This will mean even more to her if you are usually stoic and closed-off.
Tip: Having trouble getting the words flowing? Open up a text document and start typing whatever comes to your mind. Keep your fingers moving. Pretend that you are talking directly to her. Then pare down all the garbage until you have a few lines of gold.
Flowers are an uncreative and expensive way to drop the hint that you may like someone. When it comes to breaking the ice and melting hearts, a more direct and meaningful approach will always serve you better. Pass up store-bought charm for a more personalized courtship and save the flowers for weddings and funerals.