Outdoor-Adventure Romance Author Shares Five Subtle Ways to Melt Your Date’s Heart
A big box of chocolates.
A glitzy night on the town.
Row boating on a duck pond.
These are standard romantic gestures that have been around for ages. The problem is, gestures like these tend to be cliché and overt, especially for people on first or second dates who are still getting to know one another.
Also, traditional romantic gestures often don’t usually translate well for outdoorsy people.
Is it okay to wear my mountain biking shorts in that fancy restaurant?
Were those red roses you sent me locally sourced?
Are you serious about coming in early on a powder day to watch a movie?
Camping’s free—why would we stay in an luxury hotel?
Being a romance author who writes outdoor-adventure love stories set in wild places, I know a thing or two about the confluence of romantic gestures and outdoorsy people. I believe that the solution to being romantic without being over-the-top is to look to the roots of why standard gestures are seen as romantic in the first place.
Here are five ways outdoorsy people can be subtly and authentically romantic on early dates, as well as some specific ideas to jump start your creativity as you’re planning your upcoming date.
1. Prove You Were Listening.
When you give someone your complete attention, it makes them feel valued and important. Nodding along in the conversation and keeping eye contact is Listening Skills 101. To step up your game, prove you were listening.
One way to do this is to make a mental note if your date mentions some sort of favorite thing. File it away mentally so you can act on it in the future. For example, if your date says their favorite candy as a child was Junior Mints, you can buy a box and bring it with you on your next date—say, a ski day. When you pull the Junior Mints out of your pocket on the chairlift as a mid-afternoon snack, she’ll swoon (or he’ll be touched), I promise.
2. Show Details of Your Life.
When we think of getting to know each other, the first thing that comes to mind is heart-to-heart talks or interview-like conversations. Details revealed during these types of conversations are endearing. But what can be even more powerful than telling who you are is to show your date who you are.
For example, if you and your date are both runners, what about making your date be a jog together on your usual, everyday running route? That way, you are showing a piece of your life. Another idea is to include your date in a family tradition. Perhaps growing up, your family always stopped at a certain campground’s snack bar for ice cream sandwiches after hiking on the local trails. If you and your date take a hike on the local trails, stop by for ice cream, too!
3. Surprise Your Date.
By surprise, I’m not talking about a realty dating show-worthy surprise excursion to Monte Carlo in a private jet. Think small. Like a tiny bottle of bubbles to blow from a vista during a mountain bike ride. Or a pair of sparklers you can light at the end of your full moon snowshoe hike. In the end, to surprise is to delight and to cause delight in someone is very romantic.
Chivalrous [MJ1] Considerate.
Men being chivalrous is a classic romantic practice. But the thing with chivalry is that it can make some women uncomfortable. Heck, I bet it makes a lot of men uncomfortable, too, and I’d wager this is especially true for outdoorsy people.
Who opens whose car door is something you can work out between you and your date, but in the mean time, there’s a more modern way to catch the essence of chivalry and it goes both ways between men and women. It is simply being considerate and demonstrating that consideration.
This would be things like offering to be the designated driver. Or checking the weather immediately before your date to make sure both of you have the right layers for unexpected rain or winds. Or asking if your date has any food restrictions before you unknowingly bring a staunch meat-and-potatoes person to a vegan tapas bar.
5. Use Romantic Cliché to Your Advantage.
The reason romantic cliché is not ideal is because it is impersonal, but in defense of cliché, it can be useful because it comes pre-loaded with meaning. Romance authors try their best to avoid cliché, but in some cases, the loaded meaning behind clichés can be used as a tool by turning the cliché on its head. You can do this in real-life too.
For example, instead of giving your date a dozen red roses, give a single flower from a garden, perhaps tied with a simple ribbon (in her favorite color, because you’ve been a good listener and you know this, right?). If the cliché is chocolates, find a fancy box that looks like a chocolates box, but fill it with homemade cookies instead and eat them together during your date. If the cliché is an idyllic lakeside picnic with wine and fancy cheese, keep the lake and the picnic blanket, but show up with a taster-pack of microbrew IPAs and a big pizza instead.
About the Author
Megan Westfield has dabbled in a dozen different outdoor sports over the years. She grew up in Washington state, attended college in Oregon, and is now a permanent resident of San Diego along with her husband and two young kids.
Megan’s debut novel, Lessons in Gravity, is set in Yosemite National Park and is centered in the world of professional rock climbing and adventure film-making. It is available in paperback and electronically from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, or by special order from your favorite mountain-town independent bookstore.
Connect with Megan on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and her email list for the latest news about her upcoming mountaineering novel and all things bookish, outdoorsy, and romantic.