How To Win My Heart

Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showi...
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And, so to Valentine’s Day…

Having loved and lost and loved again — now in the 11th year with my sweetie — here’s how he won my heart, and continues to.

I suspect many of these are on your wish list as well:

Be loyal. If someone disses me, especially in front of others, remind them, however gently, that their concerns are best addressed directly to me.

Be fair. If you know I’ve been doing all the housework and you’ve been doing none, man up and grab that toilet bowl brush!

Listen carefully. Do not blow me off with “I hear you.” Focus your undivided attention on me for at least 30 minutes every day and you will learn who I am and where I’m going and whether I still want you with me on that journey.

Make me laugh. I can handle a  ton o’ stress as long as I can laugh long and hard in the middle of it. A man who makes me laugh wins me every time.

Action, not words. As someone who uses words for a living, as a journalist and author, I am totally unimpressed by fair phrases and fancy promises. Heard ’em all! I’m watching and waiting for you to put those words into action. Until you do, I tend to tune out.

Take good care of yourself. Dress with care and style, smell good, trim your hair and nails. Go to the gym or court or field and sweat off your stress and frustrations. Or meditate, or pray or go fishing to savor life and slow down into pleasure and come home again happy. Watch what you eat and remember that a trim, healthy man who respects himself enough to keep strong and flexible is attractive at any age.

Be fun. What do you do for pure fun? That does not involve some tech-toy or screen or sitting still? Think of fun, spontaneous things to do or places to go or a new meal to try. Delight me, please.

Have a spiritual life. You must be very clear that we all are much more than the sum of our possessions, good looks and/or fancy job title. What are you giving back to this world of value to others?

Astonish me. My sweetie scrubbed my mother’s soiled mattress after she had been trapped in bed for days before she was rescued with a brain tumor (She is fine.) Who does that? He did. Sold!

Don’t confuse charm or personality with character. It’s a very old-fashioned word, character, but it’s what lasts long after superficial charm or a cute smile or a cool job. After the age of 40, life starts getting much tougher for most of us, as our parents sicken and die, as friends die too young and we face our our work and health challenges. A man, or woman, with character will be steadfast through it all.

Be kind. To me, yourself, to others. Pat dogs and cats in passing (unless you’re allergic or phobic.) Hug babies and kids  — everyone! Kiss people when you see them. Hold their hands, literally or figuratively, when they are scared or lonely. Compassion is one of the sexiest qualities a man can have!

And, yes, of course — we need to bring these qualities as well!

What qualities in your sweetie won your heart?

What would?

15 thoughts on “How To Win My Heart

  1. I’ve known my wife for forty six years ( a heart filled with fine chocolates for Valentine’s Day 1965) and somehow we forget and remember all the things you said. Yes, our loved one’s are dying and procreating at astonishing clips.

    1. She’s one patient woman, Tom! 🙂 I’m delighted you’ve enjoyed so long a love. Even after 11 years we feel there’s a lot more to learn about one another, and we also get to enjoy having some history together. Happy V-Day!

  2. I think these are all great things to have as needs for that special someone to follow. I especially like the Listen Carefully, nothing drives me more crazy than feeling like he isn’t listening to me!

    1. There have been studies of how much couples really talk to one another, undistracted by TV or kids or phones, and it’s something like 13 minutes a day. We spend (we have no kids)probably an hour to 90 minutes every day enjoying one’s another’s conversation, with a couple of quick hellos during the workday. I would find it intolerable to be tuned out, but many women say they are and they put up with it.

  3. I love this list, and I agree with it all, but for me there’s something else, and it’s something very important. And that is to let our partners be themselves, and have our partners let us be ourselves.

    To me, the most attractive person is a person who is themselves. They don’t put on an act, they don’t say things because they’re popular, or believe things because everyone else does. They don’t necessarily follow fashion, or like what’s on commercial radio because, well, it’s on commercial radio.

    If someone is really truly a nerd, I’m attracted to them. If someone is really truly shy, I’m attracted to them. If someone is really truly camp, I’m attracted to them.

    It doesn’t matter if they are the polar opposite of me, if they are themselves, and they will fight to be themselves no matter what, then I’m attracted to them.

    And if that occurs in a relationship, then not only is it a great relationship, it’s a relationship with longevity.

    And romance!

    1. And that might be the hardest thing! Unless you pick someone JUST like you, and I have never met someone just like me. My sweetie, like me, is a career journo so it’s normal that our I-touches light up at 3 am when there’s an AP alert and we read them and then go back to sleep. For some people, that would be deeply weird. He’s also the only person I’ve ever met who was as driven as I so young to achieve in our field — we were both shooting and writing for national media when we were college undergraduates and had fantastic staff jobs, as a result, by 26.

      Romance is tricky. It’s so different for so many people….One person might love poetry and flowers, another might squirm. Romantic for me is being in the battle with me (which doesn’t sound romantic at all), like rubbing my back to soothe me before my knee surgery.

      Thanks, as always, for such thoughtful comments!

  4. Sunshine, so true. Jose (the sweetie) is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, while also (NY?) being tough, tough, tough when need be. It can be a little confusing but is common in our industry where emotion often gets in the way and thus gets suppressed (something I talk about bluntly in Malled.)

    We laugh a lot! He works at the NYT whose scary, serious newsroom silence makes the British Library look raucous….When he starts hooting into his headset, his colleagues now know it’s me.

  5. My husband went into a fast food restaurant a few months ago to get food for the two of us. It was pouring down rain, so he let me stay in the car, with the heater on and the windshield wipers going, while he went inside.

    The restaurant was slammed, my husband saw this, and quietly began helping out by picking up trash lazy people had left everywhere while he waited for his order. Several of the people there thought he was a worker there and yelled at him to make their food faster. It never occurred to any of them that he wasn’t being paid to help. He just did.

    That’s really stuck with me, but it’s the sort of thing he does. I love it about him.

  6. This is great and I agree with loads of it; and as always in talking about love, there is more: there is the strangeness of being in love which aims for oneness even as, paradoxically, one begins to grasp how different the other is.

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