I didn't find the love of my life until I was in my late 30s, which means I went through my fair share of relationships that, for one reason or another, didn't work out. Obviously, every relationship is different and every person is looking for certain things, but here are five small things I've found make a big difference.

1. "You know what's cheap? Cards. You know what's expensive? Divorce." - some book I read

Hiding love notes and cards around the house (in the silverware drawer, under a pillow, etc) is a stupid, lame, idiotic, superficial thing... except that it isn't. Yes, it may feel contrived to get a "just because I love you" card, but suck it up, buttercup. That card ISN'T going to feel lame or contrived to the recipient. THEY'LL be delighted.

Russ did this in the beginning of our relationship and I'll admit, some of them were eye-roll inducing (a basket of puppies? seriously?), but every one was a delightful surprise and a re-affirmation of love. Knowing he was thinking of me at the grocery store enough to get me a card is what it's all about.

And now we both get cards for each other. Awww.

2. Keep a dry erase marker in the bathroom and leave notes on the mirror

Surprise! They wipe right off the mirror... but imagine coming into your bathroom and seeing a crown on your head drawn in dry erase marker with "World's Most Awesome Chef" (or whatever) on it.

On our mirror right now is the following to-do list that I left for Russ:

To Do:

1. Kiss Wife

I've left murals of affection, whole lists of reasons I love him, and even just that to-do list, and he has done the same. It's very sweet.

3. Let them have a meltdown

  (photo note: this is not from an actual meltdown, it's from a party)

We all have those days when stuff is going sideways and even our pants have turned against us. Guys like to blame PMS, but consarn that. I've seen enough male total meltdowns to know that not all meltdowns are menstrual.

Sometimes you're going to just have to let the person have their fit. Get them some food, some water, maybe a glass of wine, and just listen. If they say something you don't agree with or feel like defending yourself against (eg. "AND YOU DIDN'T EVEN TAKE OUT THE TRASH...") shut the fopdoodle up. Don't take the bait of the meltdown and feed it with energy, just apologize and ask how you can help.

I can already hear you defending yourself saying, "but s/he turns on me and..." Lemme tell you something: you're on the same team. Sometimes there's friendly fire, but your job as the sane one is to accept a couple bullets when you're retrieving your partner from the melee of a meltdown.

And yeah, I totally called you "the sane one." Which is how you'll be recalled later after the meltdown is over. And at that point, you can talk about the trash if it's even an issue anymore. See? You didn't actually take a bullet after all.

4. Surprise! Butt hump!


(photo note: I didn't have a real photo of a surprise butt hump, so here's a photo of me surprise fake humping Justin Bieber)

Here's how to do the surprise butt-hump:

  1. Sneak up behind the person
  2. With no sexual overtones whatsoever, rapidly hump them like a bunny
  3. Giggle and run away

Note, this is not about actual humping. I'm not talking about a slow, romantic hump. Which, sure, that's fine too. But this is about a total goofball drive-by humping with a quick escape.

Please ensure the hump recipient is not using knives or a hot pan. I say this from experience.

5. Be yourself, even if you think you look stupid

No one is perfect. Even if you're in the early phases of dating, BE YOURSELF. It's better that the relationship end early than limp along under false pretenses. The gig will be up eventually anyways, and you'll end up feeling alone and detached in the relationship, which is how people wake up and realize the magic is gone.

Keep the magic. Be ridiculously yourself.


Oh, there are some other small things too... like close the bathroom door when you're pooping. Really. No one needs to be that close.

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