When it comes to what we think of as a “romantic idea,” it feels like our culture is constantly putting pressure on us to be more original. TV ads tell us that you have to buy your girlfriend diamond jewelry with engraving to be original this Valentine’s Day. There’s always a better restaurant, more exotic flowers, and more expensive chocolate, and sometimes it seems that even that’s not good enough. Movies have characters standing outside windows with boom-boxes or hiring violinists for private dinners. Still, I don’t own a boom box, and even if I could afford to hire a violinist, I don’t think I’d feel very comfortable eating and talking in front of him.
Maybe innovation is a bit unrealistic; perhaps it takes more effort than it is worth. After all, aren’t romantic gestures just meant to show appreciation for your loved one? Isn’t breakfast in bed or a romantic gift of flowers and chocolates good enough? Movies and dinner might not be original, but I love being taken out for both.
On the other hand, it might just be that we are pushing the idea of originality to its extreme. Creativity can be simpler than what we imagine it to be. It couldn’t hurt to occasionally do something a little different and new. For instance, instead of going out for dinner, have an evening picnic on your living room floor with candles to light the room and chocolate-coated strawberries for dessert. Would it kill you to take up a few lessons with your partner to learn that dance form she’s always loved? Probably not, unless you have back problems, in which case you could maybe sign up for French classes instead. When it comes to a romantic gift, give your partner a hard-cover copy of their favorite novel with an inscription instead of the usual flowers and chocolates.
It seems that being innovative can actually be stress-free and sometimes even cheaper. Instead of buying my husband a card for our last anniversary, I made one with a printed photograph of us inside. He liked it because it was unique and personal; maybe that’s the secret. If I hired a violinist to play at dinner, it wouldn’t mean anything special to my husband because he doesn’t even like classical instruments.
So it can be different from the kind of original we see in the movies because it wouldn’t be personal besides being an impossible target.