Meggan McCann has her own idea of what makes a man romantic.
There is a lot of pressure on men to be romantic, and there is not much room for interpretation of what constitutes a romantic act. Most of them involve money. Romance is chocolates, dinners, jewelry, roses. For women, it’s lingerie. And more lingerie.
I would never turn my nose up at roses or a beautiful necklace. Clichés often exist for a reason, and many people enjoy cliché romance, myself included.
The most romantic things men have done for me have not involved money. They have only partially involved clichés. They have involved thought. Thought doesn’t have to mean effort. It means a singular thought: the object of my affection, this specific girl, would love what I’m about to do for her more than the woman sitting next to her would love the same thing.
My first experience with true romance came when I was 15. I had fallen in love with a boy a few days earlier, when we had our first kiss on the balcony of my house while looking at the stars. So, ok, in this instance a cliché did play an important part in romance.
The stargazing was romantic, but what really sealed the deal didn’t come until a few days later.
Leading up to our first kiss, Ben and I had a phone relationship. This was back when call waiting was the most exciting phone technology available. Our conversations started organically; we had known each other since 6th grade, when I was dating his best friend. During one of our phone calls, Ben suddenly said to me, “I love you. Like, I really love you.”
The only response I could give was, “I love you too.” It was the most honest love profession I’ve ever made.
Ben’s confession still wasn’t the most romantic thing that happened that week. During those phone conversations leading up to our first kiss, in the dozens of hours of talking about everything from George Bush to stupid facial expressions our friends would make, I mentioned that lilacs are my favorite flower.
Five days later, and two days after our first kiss, Ben brought me a lilac he had plucked from his dad’s backyard.
I had received flowers before this moment, and have received flowers since, but this single lilac has remained the most romance-filled flower I have ever been given. His flower didn’t say, “I spent $50 on you,” or, “This is what a boyfriend should do.” Ben’s lilac said, “You mentioned in passing last week that you liked lilacs, and as I listen to you, respect you, and care about you, I thought you might like this.”
Had he simply remembered my favorite flower months down the road and bought me lilacs for Valentine’s Day, I would still have been impressed. But it was the surprise, the evidence that he had been thinking of our relationship when he wasn’t expected to be, that made such an impact on me.
I fell in love with Ben that weekend. Despite our age, it has proven to be one of the most genuine, important loves of my life. His romantic gesture and the meaning that it carried helped me through more than a few hard times in our relationship. Romance gave me the opportunity to see how he respected and cared about me, even when I felt otherwise.
We are not together anymore, but Ben’s lilac remains the standard to which I hold men when it comes to romance.