Straight Married Guy (Irad Eyal): The secret I’m about to reveal is guaranteed to make a guy more romantic. It also works if you want him to dress better or catch a frisbee in his mouth. And I learned it by training my dog. It’s called incremental positive reinforcement and it just means reward him when he gets close to your idea of romantic, and eventually he’ll start getting closer and closer until he nails it.
Real World Example: If a guy thinks he’s being romantic when he takes you bowling or buys you a butt plug or does something else that isn’t in your definition of romance, your instinct may be to school him on the distinction. Instead, give him a blowjob (this part isn’t in the dog training book). Or do something else nice. That’s the positive reinforcement, and that’s what’s going to guide him in the right direction. Eventually he’ll be braising halibut, giving deep tissue massages, and spreading rose petals all over the crisp clean sheets. That’s the incremental part.
I know this is simplistic and degrading (to men and women) and shouldn’t be the way grown humans learn to make each other happy. But I also know it works and it’s a lot more fun than trying to figure out what someone wants in couples counseling. So give it a shot! Who’s a good girl!
Gay Committed Guy (Terence): Does he know how to be romantic? You almost have to assume he doesn’t, otherwise his unwillingness to put forth the tinest bit of effort should be a huge neon warning sign that he’s self-centered, or even worse, just damn lazy. I think the only effective way to put him to the test, by which I mean give him the opportunity to express his romantic side, is to do some modeling. Not in the Victoria Secret sense, but in the behavioral science sense. Book a suprise night out, pack some wine and nibbles, and end up at a drive-in. Pack his lunch for work with a romantic note in it. Model these behaviors and them use them as examples for him to get his creative juices flowing. And as a last resort (as in, ultimatum) give him a copy of 1001 Ways to be Romantic.
Straight Single Guy (Colin Adamo): You may have to be anything but subtle when it comes to this request. Men aren’t as good at picking up on little hints. If you seem happy enough, we don’t fix what ain’t broke. You’re going to have to ask, nicely.
Tell him that you want to do something unbelievably sexy for him. Ask him to think up something wild, something dirty he’s always toyed with asking you to do (keep some boundaries, sure, but be okay with getting outside your comfort zone, if only for an evening). Tell him you want to see him this turned on, but in return you want him to make you feel super-mooshy-gooshy-ultra-girly-romantic with the same conviction you bring to that hidden away little kink.
Even if the night of erotic suspension or the evening of slow dancing never take place, it will at least start the conversation about wanting this relationship to thrive, physically as well as emotionally.
Our “guys” are a rotating group of contributors. Irad Eyal is a writer, TV producer, and founder of celebrity gossip site Sexdegrees.net; Colin Adamo is a recent Yale grad and author/blogger behind Hooking Up & Staying Hooked, the only sex and relationships resource specifically for high school aged guys; and Terence is an American living in Sydney. To ask the guys your own question, click here.