image by ♥On Valentine’s Day, it’s easy to remember that you’re supposed to do something romantic for your sweetie. After all, every drug store you walk into has red and pink candy hearts, and every radio ad is trying to sell you an engagement ring. This year, do something a little different: Take an hour or two, and make your entire year romantic.

This might sound challenging, but really, it’s quite easy. It’s all about having a plan.

To start off, make a list of 10 to 20 things your partner feels romanced by. These don’t have to be expensive or elaborate — in fact, the easier they are to do, the better. And don’t worry, you’re not going to DO them now. You’re just brainstorming.

I’ll even give you some ideas: bringing home flowers, making breakfast in bed, filling up her gas tank and leaving a post-it heart on the dashboard, buying a silly “just because” card, hiring a babysitter so you can make out in the car, ordering a few things online you heard her mention that she wanted, picking up his favorite chocolates, watching pre-season games together, packing a picnic and going for a hike, leaving love notes in his lunch, giving her a bath, eating take-out by candlelight, upgrading his computer, going to the zoo, trying that restaurant you’ve been meaning to try, giving her a genuine compliment.

Don’t know what seems like romance to your sweetie? Ask. (Really. They’ll be happy you did.)

Now, look at your list. Do you know how to do these things? Are there any supplies or information you’ll need to make them happen? Maybe you don’t know what his favorite chocolates are. Maybe you need some silly “just because” cards. Maybe you don’t have a clue when the pre-season games start. Write down whatever you need to have on hand to make the activity happen. If something seems too complicated or confusing, just cross it off the list. The idea here is to make them feel good, not for you to feel crappy. Make romance easy!

Once you’ve gotten your list of activities and your “what I need to do” figured out, take out your calendar. Choose one or two days per month that you’ll do your romancin’. Random is good, because then they won’t see it coming!

Decide now what activity you will do when — this takes the thinking out of it later. Again, the idea is to make being romantic easy. The more you figure out now, the less you’ll have to think about it later.

Put each romance activity on the calendar. It’s okay to repeat some of them — after all, someone who likes getting cards will certainly love getting four or five of them this year.

As you put in the activities, add in any relevant information you might need when the time comes to pull it off. The babysitter’s number, the name of the restaurant, where to get tickets, the model of sunglasses he said he wanted. This way, you’ll have everything you need when it comes time to do the activity. “Buy lilies or roses from the flower stand by the subway” will be more helpful when the time comes than “Buy flowers.”

Ta-dah! You now have a year-long plan to romance your lover all year long.

Bonus points: Some people like to stock up on supplies to make the romance even easier. If you find a cute card store, instead of buying only one or two cards, why not buy a whole year’s worth? If the chocolatier has a “chocolate of the month” club, why not subscribe? How about buying season tickets to the game? Don’t overdo it if that’s not your style, but think of ways you can front-load the technical bits so that you can enjoy the bliss of your partner feeling spectacularly loved without any of the overhead.

Extra Bonus points: Make a similar plan to be “romantic” toward yourself. Imagine your delight when you turn to your calendar in September to find that you already booked a massage.

Scrabble image by nicole.pierce.photograph

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