What’s the Most Romantic Thing Someone’s Ever Done for you?

Image: Amanda Oleander

What’s your take on Valentine’s day? Last year I shared an ethical and affordable Valentines gift guide but somehow this year, the whole thing has totally crept up on me and I’m all outta time (and inspiration). But it struck me anyway, does celebrating love always have to be associated with things?

Is romance the expensive necklace or is it offering to take the bins out when it’s dark and pouring with rain? When I asked my friends what the most romantic gesture is someone has ever done for them, the responses were unanimous: it’s the mundane, quiet and totally unglamorous moments that make us weak at the knees, not the garlands of perfect red roses. I recently read an article by Judith Hertog in The New York Times which I loved. She writes:

“A lethal combination of Hollywood sentimentality, Victorian romanticism and bridal-magazine kitsch has placed an impossible burden on love. We’re supposed to subject our relationships to some recipe for unfading ardor and permanent swoon and are made to believe we are failing if we just live in reality. I object to the tyranny of perfect romance. I’d rather have a flawed relationship of my own than the kind of fairy tale love in which the lovers are replaceable elements in an arrangement of candlelight dinners, red roses and walks on the beach. I prefer my love imperfect….”

“Of course, after more than 25 years in a relationship, the fire of passion has dimmed to a glow of familiarity, and now that we have children our interactions are often limited to the coordination of schedules and squabbles about the fair distribution of responsibilities. We can fight in shorthand because we’re so well acquainted with each other’s grievances that we don’t need to go through the whole argument anymore. But when, during my moments of marital doubt, I look at other men as potential lovers, I realize there aren’t many with whom, after 25 years, I’d still get along as well as with Gil. Maybe it’s just because we’ve grown intertwined, like two trees that need each other for support”

So forget the Instagram perfect Valentine’s day gifts, real romance is actually…

“Holding the towel out for me when I step out the shower” – Jane

“Asking me how I slept last night – and then being prepared to listen to my dream in its entirety” – Ed

“When she cooks my favourite meal, and above all makes sure that it’s hot when I come in from work” – Alex

“Taking a surprise detour via our old school where we met, aged 16 and 17, and getting down on one knee and proposing – Emma

“Bragging for them to friends” – James

“Waiting to watch the next episode of a series you’re watching together and not watching ahead” – Anya

“A cup of tea brought to me in the morning” – Sophy

“Writing a heartfelt card for no reason” – Florence

“Going for a bike ride together and having your partner tow you for a bit” – Russ

“Staying at home an extra 10 minutes to get the kids dressed and fed – I could have cried with love for him! – Nikki

“Love notes hidden away amongst my things” – Claire

“Every meal ever made for me!” – Emily

“When Ben ran a marathon and I compiled a video for him with good luck messages” – Sophy

“Taking out their childhood photos and asking them to show them to you” – Oscar

“Doing my tax returns for me” – Emma

A dedicated CD with all my favourite tunes” – Nikki

“Letting them sit on the comfy seat at the restaurant” – Claire

“Being met at the airport – the best was when he had a hand drawn scribbled sign with my name on it” – Mariel

“Letting them try your meal at the restaurant before you do” – Jane

And probably my all time favourite one, from my sister:

“When we first got together we went to Brighton and I randomly bought this kit to make a sock owl. I made it and gave it to him just before we went to Berlin for the weekend. A couple of weeks after we got back, he gave me this photo album full of pics of the sock owl in different spots in Berlin. He had bought it with him and secretly been taking photos of it everywhere we went” – Liv

Thank you so much to my friends and family for sharing these gestures with me. What’s the most romantic gesture anyone’s ever done for you? What are some of your most memorable Valentine’s day moments? I’d love to hear.

Emma xxx

P.S Ten Things He’s Done for Me and Two Ingredient Dry Hair Shampoo


  1. Cecilia
    February 11, 2021 / 9:45 am

    Definitely a hot drink being made for me, I really appreciate those.
    Once when we were out on a walk my foot started hurting and when I took my boot off too look my toenail was cutting into my other toe in the edge and it was really sore he nibbled the edge off.
    I take good care of my feet so they aren’t bad and I had showered that day.
    Instant relief and I thought that’s so kind . 😂

  2. Hazel
    February 14, 2020 / 1:20 pm

    Last week we were in bed. He was asleep. I was reading my book. It was pouring with rain. I suddenly remembered i was supposed to feed my neighbour’s cats (the other end of a long street). I jumped up. He woke up and went for me. I feel loved because i was only pretending it might be me who went. I haven’t done anything cold or wet or uncomfortable since we met

  3. AnneMarie
    February 14, 2020 / 8:38 am

    We weren’t even officially together yet, but I was driving through my city in my clapped out car that had no working petrol meter, and ran out of petrol in the most cringy, awkward spot. Without thinking, I picked up my phone and rang him, I didn’t even get 4 words into my sentence, and he just said, ‘where are you, sit tight and I’ll be there’. After years of being a single parent and doing everything alone, I cannot even begin to express the love and support I felt in that moment. I sat in the car crying happy tears. That was 8 years ago and we married 5 years ago.

  4. Gemma
    February 12, 2020 / 8:20 am

    Always without fail, he’s there for me and our kids. No matter what he’s doing or where he is, if we need him, he drops everything and he’s there.
    Even driving 300 miles (one way) to hug to his daughter after her boyfriend dumped her. All she had to say on the phone was ‘Dad’ and he told her he was on his way.
    He’s our super hero.🤍

  5. Anna
    February 11, 2020 / 4:03 pm

    The morning after I first stayed over at a former boyfriend’s house, he brought me leftover sushi that he had saved for me and chocolate for breakfast in bed <3

  6. Hannah
    February 10, 2020 / 3:05 pm

    After our son was born, my husband brought me coffee in bed every morning while he was on leave. 🥰 I know the first few weeks with a new baby are often rough for couples, but I’ve never felt so loved. Knowing we were sleep deprived, we made a point to just laugh every time we wanted to bicker.

  7. Sara
    February 10, 2020 / 2:20 pm

    My boyfriend secretly wrote “I love you, Sara” delicately, not in a such visible way, on the timetable display on a london bus pole. He knew every morning I would take the bus from there and one day , sleepy and not in the mood for work, accidentally looked there and wooow, that just put a massive smile on my face and just made made my day so happy! Of course he told me that it s been there for a while but just waited for me to see it. And we were seeing each other daily but he just waited so the surprise was huge.
    There are lots of others like leaving notes when at work or making pancakes for me or breakfast in bed ❤️.

    • Emma Ross
      February 10, 2020 / 2:35 pm

      THIS IS EVERYTHING !! (sorry TFL, hope you’re not reading this) x

      • Sara
        February 10, 2020 / 7:56 pm

        Oh yes, hope TFL doesn’t read this :))
        Thanks , Emma! Xxx love is so great in simple gestures.

  8. Siobhan
    February 10, 2020 / 9:15 am

    Cleaning me up after my first birth and then showing me how to change a nappy. I knew we’d be ok for good.

    • Emma Ross
      February 10, 2020 / 2:31 pm

      YAS. there is nothing like your OH watching you birth a baby… <3

  9. Louise
    February 10, 2020 / 8:12 am

    I was in hospital and had to have a blood test from the artery in my wrist. The doctor told me that it would hurt. I said, “please distract me” and my husband said “look into my eyes”. He held my gaze steadily and I honestly did not feel a thing. He is my rock.

    • Emma Ross
      February 10, 2020 / 2:31 pm

      i felt the steadfast love myself here just reading it. love this <3 x

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