Best ever day as a teenager, when I didn’t know what love was or could mean: A boy I’d noticed noticing me in school worked in a local supermarket after school. He was 15 already but I was still 14.

One day I accompanied my Mother and much younger brother to this store after school. As we turned a corner to go down the Produce aisle, he was there and stocking a bin. Our eyes locked from 30 paces. I stopped walking, but my Mother, the cart, and my brother kept going.

Almost imperceptibly, the boy reached over to where there were bundles of fresh flowers and extracted a daisy. He then held it out to me from afar, and with his eyes, asked me to take it.

Needless to say, I was Jello after that. We were together five years and some after that.

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Feb 14Liked by Sari Botton

In my humble opinion the best romantic gesture I have done for my hubby was actually free! He won a major award in high school (80s) and either his parents or one of his exes threw out the medal. After hearing him sadly talking about this because it meant so much to him, I secretly wrote to his school and asked if they had a record of it from 30 odd years ago so I could try to recreate one. They actually ordered a brand new one for him, and this shiny new fancy medal and certificate show up. He was beyond surprised, speechless really,, and loved it so very much. Of course he had it framed and his award now is proudly on the wall of his office safe and sound.

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Feb 14·edited Feb 14Liked by Sari Botton

I used to say that the most romantic gesture was the year my (now) husband, (soon to be) ex husband sent me flowers and a note in french to my hotel in New York while I was there on a work trip. We had just begun dating, and it was in the fledgling "I hope he likes me as much as I like him...and please oh please oh please don't be a loser like all of the others" phase. It was the only time in my life that I'd had a boyfriend that had done something romantic on Valentine's Day.

When I'm truly honest with myself, however, my all-time favorite Valentine's Day was in 2002 where I ordered myself a pizza, purchased a bottle of wine and watched The Princess Bride in my studio apartment. It was something at the time I couldn't appreciate of course, but I look back on it with envy for its simplicity and indulgence. (Especially since it was a time when I could drink wine without many repercussions...ditto with an entire cheese pizza.)

This year, however, I'm happy to celebrate my daughter who at 10 still gets excited when I gift her axolotl stickers and chocolates.

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A long-ago boyfriend made a Valentine's Day very special for me. The year before I'd had an abortion on Valentine's Day. So it's always a bit hard, though it was ten years ago. He got me a giant Teddy Bear, candles, candy, lingerie. He was sweet. He knew it was rough. He was a mechanic who had such strong and gentle hands. Even if they always looked dirty--lol. Imagining him getting all this girlie stuff for me made me laugh. It's a sweet memory though. I'm engaged now, and my beautiful oak tree of a cowboy is on his ranch working cattle today, but we had a lovely weekend!

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The most romantic gesture was a bit of advice I got from the married man I'd been sleeping with for years, the one I believed then was my best friend, the one I credit still, weirdly, for waking me up to my own potential. He's still married, btw, and this was 20+ years ago...not that it matters. Anyway, he said, "romance yourself." I've never forgotten it, though I sometimes forget to put it into practice. After a truly shitty Valentines Day with my partner of 15 years (not married, to me or anyone else), I hear the advice to romance myself like a heartbeat.

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The first thing that comes to mind is very embarrassing but I’ve also laughed about it a lot . in my mid 20s I was dating a man I was very crazy about who had all kinds of issues and basically dumped me telling me that he just couldn’t be with me because of those issues. I refused to believe him . I was absolutely heartbroken and I spent some time making a mixtape except it wasnt a mixtape , it was a tape of the Neil Young song “pardon my heart” on a loop. I got my little brother to drive me over to his grotty rooming house to drop it off as I didn’t yet have a drivers license. I knocked on his door and handed him the tape and said “ I know you love me and you are lying to yourself and to me. Then I left. I didn’t hear from him and I moved on. About 6 months later we were at the same party, I was there with my new boyfriend. He found me in the crowded kitchen, sidled up beside me and said. “You were right. “And I said “too bad but thanks for telling

Me I wasn’t crazy” and he said “no, you weren’t crazy.”

Anyway, I really went out on a limb and it didn’t work out with him but I lucked out with a wonderful guy and we’ve been married for 33 years and we too feel like everyday or at least most days are Valentine’s Day. My brother loves to tell this story as an example of my very romantic nature. And I’ll always be grateful to S. for letting me know my instincts were right.

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Feb 14Liked by Sari Botton

The year was 2005, the truck was an ’89 with a flat wood bed, and the girl, we will call her J., was about 6” too tall to be sitting in it beside me. She was a fundraiser who relied on her wit, charm, and fancy business suits to get the job done. I was and driving her to work while her car was in the shop, and it had snowed overnight, so we took the “dump truck” with 4wd. And a leaky windshield gasket. That spilled ice water onto her well-dressed lap just as we turned the corner into her office parking lot. But I had the workday to figure out a recovery….

I got there early to pick her up and walked into the office with a bouquet. We’d been together nearly two years and I knew she despised such gestures. “Flowers: when you care JUST enough” I’d heard her snicker more than once. That day, she just rolled her eyes as her colleagues all told her what a sweet boyfriend she had. But the bouquet was just a distraction, one which she was still gently complaining about as she got to the truck to open the door and find the seat covered with rose petals and chocolates. There was also a “sorry” note from Blue (the truck. Which was blue) that included a “PS. Look in the glove box.” That was where I had stashed the concert tickets and our dinner reservations. And that was when she finally exhaled “I KNEW you knew better than to get me flowers! …very funny. And sweet.” We drove home laughing, with my coat over her knees just in case the windshield leaked. again.

* I had already bought the tickets and made dinner reservations before the windshield leaked, but hadn't figured out how to present them

**I am told that today J. is married to a dentist somewhere in north Jersey...

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I had a boyfriend in college who drove all the way from Baltimore, MD to Richmond, IN unannounced. He appeared on my doorstep with a bouquet of purple irises and the weekend free.

I don't honestly remember now what was going on in my life that he felt like I needed his actual physical presence, but I did. To date, it is one of the sweetest things any romantic partner has ever done for me.

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During our courtship, my husband came to me on the Monday before Valentine's Day and said, "Want to go to a Laker's Game?" We lived in New Jersey at the time. Two days later, we were on a plane to LA where we spent V-Day weekend watching two Laker Games from the stands, eating two meals at In & Out, and spending incredibly beautiful moments driving through the neighborhoods where he'd grown up. He shared a different memory for each location.

I still think In & Out is a romantic place.

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Ahh distance! It truly does intensify things. I was in a long distance relationship right out of college and we would make each other love objects of all sorts. I remember one made of newspapers and cardboard that my boyfriend had cut into squares, collaged and written on, then bound together with twine and duct tape. We were both young artists but I remember thinking he was the most creative person in the world and the exuberant form of a love letter made me hot. It was just the best. Needless to say that romance did not last but it left a lasting mark. We were young and feverishly in love and making each other things and sending them through the mail only made our love feel that much more urgent and infinite.

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The MCI card. 2001. Moving on and now you know you're with your person. xo

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Feb 14Liked by Sari Botton

One of my three daughters asked for how I would define love. Here it is:

Reflections On Love

"Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." -- Aristotle

Those of us fortunate enough to experience that euphoric sensation we call ‘love’ might describe it as the joining of two individuals into a single entity … a couple. Some would consider this attraction, magic. Others will be more elegant, calling it Nature’s pre-eminent gift, and still others prefer the more basic label, animal magnetism.

However defined, when two people find themselves drawn toward each other a highly sensitive process begins. Could this physical attraction be the prelude to something more serious and lasting, and mutually fulfilling … perhaps even an enduring love relationship? Neither of the two is certain about that just yet, nor are they aware the path they contemplate is filled with both enormous promise and an abundance of challenges.

The couple-to-be advance to the next step. It’s a big leap. They decide they’re falling in love. This is where rational thinking evaporates, both having been swept into the vortex of emotional tidal waves. Are the feelings real or wishful thinking? Are they mutual? Hearts become vulnerable.

At this stage, many couples may not yet understand that building a relationship is enormously complicated. The path to unity as a loving couple requires a dizzying array of emotional adjustments and formidable compromises in search of ‘common ground,’ particularly with all the ‘excess baggage’ each will assume they can bring into the relationship.

It took some of us far too many years to realize what that excess baggage – i.e., interests and likes and dislikes and wants and perceived needs and biases and priorities – is all about: ego.

Consider this: two people with different life experiences voice the same words to each other. Guaranteed each will ‘hear’ those words differently. Sometimes the ‘received message’ will not come close to resembling what the other intended to communicate. Why? The history of the sender is different from the history of the receiver.

All too often these differing perceptions can lead to elevated emotions. Our couple would do well to consider how one of them would feel if, during the heat of a disagreement, strong words they might be tempted to direct toward the other were instead directed at them. Combative emotions can be eased by remembering that constructive (positive) words build a loving relationship, while destructive (negative) words damage that process. One antidote to neutralizing damaging words is, quite simply, silence. To be blunt: keeping your mouth shut.

Let’s bring into the discussion another word, this one capable of performing miracles: respect. Put that in capital letters. RESPECT. It’s an antidote to disagreements even stronger than the awesome power of silence. Consider ‘respect’ as a collective term incorporating trust, honesty, caring, loyalty, patience, and a host of other virtues, all essential components in the ‘glue’ that builds and binds a lasting relationship.

Author and teacher, Bryant H. McGill offers this compelling thought: One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.

Some of us also took a while to realize all those differences we reacted to while building a relationship were insignificant compared with the priceless value of the relationship we were in the process of creating. What helps make that happen? Respecting the other’s right to be right as well as respecting their right to be wrong.

Over time, a loving couple builds an accumulation of shared experiences that supersedes the individual lives each had previously. It is this shared history that creates the foundation for a thriving relationship, made even stronger when there is a willingness to respect the separate interests of the other.

Example: one partner might be passionate about an indoor hobby while the other might be deeply committed to some outdoor pursuit. Both interests can blossom under the same roof. Having respect for the other partner means genuinely honouring different interests, all the while cherishing and building upon that body of shared values, interests, and experiences. Of course, it takes work.

Relationships nurtured with loving care by both partners will almost certainly thrive. A personal vignette: My father quite literally ‘courted’ our mother throughout their lives together with loving words and thoughtful deeds, that were reciprocated. The love they shared has become a cherished family legend.

Finally, consider this: what defines our worth as individuals is determined not by our physical possessions but by how we treat ourselves and others, especially by how we treat our life partners and our offspring. To get there we must first learn to respect and love ourselves … and then we will be ready to love and respect others in a manner they deserve.


"The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love."

– Henry Miller


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I had to take a cooking course as part of nutrition degree program I was in, and on the day of our "final," which was to prepare a meal for the administration of the college and our guests, my boyfriend at the time dressed in a suit and brought flowers, and while the women in my class thought it was romantic, I was horrified. He put all the attention on himself, like he always did. I passed the course, but no one talked about my roasted squash. Only about "that guy with the flowers."

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Feb 14Liked by Sari Botton

Did you find out about the cheating in the notebook first?

I was in an online friendship with someone. I wanted it to be more. She told me about a bar she was a regular at. So I sent the bar money to buy her and her friend a drink. Never heard from the bar, she never mentioned it to me. I broke a number of boundaries in that friendship and deserved to lose it. Alas.

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Mar 7Liked by Sari Botton

Bruce and I have been together since 2000. At our age, 72, he lovingly tells me I’m “no maintenance as opposed to high maintenance.” Our very romantic Valentine’s Day ritual began about 10 years ago. We go to Pat’s Hot Dogs, a 1950’s iconic Tucson drive-in to order chili dogs and fries, take a bottle of champagne, and drive up A Mountain to celebrate and check out the views of the city below. Truth be told, I look forward to this every year as I savor each bite of my three chili dogs! Needless to say, once a year is all I can handle, but it makes me so happy he’s in my life and we can share this together.

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Feb 17Liked by Sari Botton

In high school I fell in love with a funny, sarcastic fellow musician. We both fell hard, intellectually, emotionally, in every way. The perfect first love, really: 40+ years later I can honestly still say that I’m glad we had all those Firsts together.

He composed a duet for viola and cello for us to play together. Swoon.

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