Navigate the Fine Line Between Sappy And Romantic

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Navigate the Fine Line Between Sappy And Romantic
How to go from skeptic to romantic without losing your street cred.

Some people are built to be sappy. My sister, for instance—her turn-ons include romantic comedies, diamonds, flowers, snuggling, and babies. An elaborate wedding proposal involving a Jumbotron, an adorable monkey in a tuxedo, and enough carats to restrict normal finger mobility would completely kill with her. If you are one of those people, then this article is not for you.

Everyone else, listen up: When it comes to the lovey-dovey stuff, you are not nearly as punk rock as you pretend to be. Yeah, I know, nobody wants to be in one of those gross couples that makes single people gag, but deep down inside, I bet you like doing some of that touchy-feely junk. Snuggling. Giggling. The occasional sweet nothing. Well, it's time to own up to it. Stop living a lie. By continuing to deny your mushy side, you're only hurting yourself. It’s not easy, I know. But I can help, because I did it.

Let me share my coming-out story with you. My personal distaste for the traditionally romantic has mostly centered on gifts. There's something crass about popular images of couples-type giving, a kind of money-equals-love formula that I find icky. Like in those diamond ads where the message is always something along the lines of "Don't be fooled, at heart all women are grasping, materialistic harpies." Plus they always feature dudes buying stuff for their ladies, and never the reverse, so there's an air of antifeminism about the whole thing.

Anyway, for the longest time I was way too sophisticated for all that crap. Every time an anniversary or Valentine's Day rolled around, I was quick to tell whomever I was dating that he was not to worry about such lame, Hallmark-generated hoopla. I would then proceed to look down my nose at the candyconcealing bears and heart-encrusted lingerie, happy in my intellectual superiority. I was, I imagine, a real treat to have around.

Then, one February, everything changed. It was like this: I was sitting around with my boyfriend, Frank, drinking a beer, when he asked what I wanted to do for Valentine's Day. I suggested the usual nothing, wondering if he had forgotten what a lovely time we had had the previous year doing nothing. Frank nodded. Then he mentioned that he was thinking of buying me a gift—if not for Valentine's Day, exactly, then just because— and suggested that maybe I consider doing the same. I sneered. This was the moment I looked forward to every time I sat through a De Beers ad, the moment for self-righteous speechifying. "Why would we want to do that?" I asked, gearing up to lower the boom. His answer totally flicked on the cartoon lightbulb over my head: "Well, because I thought it would be a nice thing to do."

"A nice thing to do." How can you argue against doing nice things for a person you like? You really can't. Feeling like the Grinch during the heart-grows-three-sizes scene, I realized that perhaps it wasn't outside the realm of possibility that couples might give each other presents not because of capitalist brainwashing, but because they like to be generous with their partners. That, just maybe, what you do for each other isn't as important as why and how you do it.

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