Romancing Your Female PartnerThe concept of “romance” hasn’t received much original thought in decades. Hollywood spits out clichés. Romance-starved fans gobble them up. Some people make a noble attempt to emulate what they have seen on the silver screen: flower-filled baths, rings sparkling in champagne.

Reproducing the kind of romance shown in movies can feel rather like an act: You know what your audience wants. So you go through the motions for her. But you both know it’s a little scripted.

Ultimately, what makes romance real is making romance your own. If it doesn’t feel sincere, you aren’t likely to keep the production going for very long. And as much as a woman may crave a grand romantic gesture once in a while, she also craves an enduring romance. What makes romance both powerful and sustainable is tailoring your style of romance to the needs of your female partner.

Have a Game Plan

Taking initiative is incredibly attractive to most women. Brainstorm new restaurants, activities or experiences to share together. Start with a solid plan for your dates, then adapt to the mood and the moment as needed. Say something like, “Tonight, I’d like to take you to dinner at Vito’s and then to go see the new Daniel Craig movie. How does that sound to you?” This allows her to express her preferences but spares you both the familiar, “What do you want to do? / I don’t know” rigmarole.

Give a Just-Because Gift

Make a point of picking up a present for her any time you travel. Choose something that reflects both her personality and the location. You don’t need to spend a lot; what’s most impressive is realizing you were thinking of her when you were away. Do the same thing when running errands in town. Keep an eye out for little things she would love: a new book by her favorite author or her favorite fruit from the local farmer’s market.

Be Responsible

You’ll never see it being used to sell body wash ads, but women generally find responsibility incredibly sexy. She’s not necessarily a gold-digger; she’s just looking for someone she can trust to be a true partner. Holding a steady job, staying on top of the bills and giving back to your community are undeniably attractive traits.

Be Specific to Your Woman

What makes your partner feel loved and safe? What makes her feel just a tiny bit spoiled? You may buy her tickets to the hottest Broadway musical, but if she’d rather be courtside, your efforts (and money) are wasted. Would she rather go on a hike/picnic or go out for a night on the town? Most women appreciate flowers, but do you know what specific flowers she likes? And do you know what she might prefer to have more than flowers? If not, don’t be afraid to ask. Say, “What can I do today that would make you feel really loved?”

Do an Unsolicited Chore

Housework isn’t naturally appealing to most people. But doing chores—especially without being asked—can make you more appealing to your partner. Women don’t really enjoy nagging. But some women do have a hard time relaxing in a messy house. By freeing your partner from some household drudgery, you free her to focus on taking good care of herself … and you.

The Way to Her Heart

The old adage is: “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” But the same may be true for women—especially women who have spent the day with insane coworkers or tantrum-prone toddlers.

You don’t have to be rich: You can stay home and cook. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef: The meal could be a humble offering of spaghetti and salad. For that matter, you don’t even have to cook at all: Simply swing by her favorite to-go place on the way home from work.

Show (and Expect) Respect

Different women have different ideas of chivalry. But every woman wants to be treated with respect and consideration. Likewise, you should fully expect to receive respect from your female partner. Romance isn’t about abasing yourself. It’s about elevating and strengthening your connection as a couple.

Despite what you see in movies, romance doesn’t require goopy sentimentalism or lavish public displays. Romance is making art out of everyday experiences … and applying creativity and thoughtfulness in a relationship.