In a perfect world, each moment of a relationship would be like that weak-kneed romantic scene in The English Patient when Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas finally get together. So what keeps us from living that swoony, loopy-in-love life? Nothing more than getting stuck in the same day-in, day-out patterns and letting gushiness shift to the back burner. Okay, maybe that and the lack of a beautiful African desert background. Let Cosmo play mushy-moments director and push you to pack as much lovey-doveyness as possible into your daily duo. That means seizing every opportunity to sweeten up even the most seemingly unsentimental times together.
Here, easy but so-worth-it ways to jump-start both of your hearts.
Share a Secret Code
Pick a word that’s likely to come up occasionally in conversation (heat, midnight, bedroom, whipped cream…) and agree that every time someone uses it, you have to touch — anything from a kiss to a lingering thigh stroke under the table.
Transform Dinner into Dining
That midweek post-grind meal you devour together? Make it register off the mush-o-meter with some tiny adjustments to the atmosphere. “Pull out your nicest dishes and light a couple of candles, even if you’re just having a mushroom pizza,” suggests Gregory Godek, author of 1001 Ways to Be Romantic (Casablanca Press, 2000). “It’s the mood, not the food, that sets a romantic scene. So stick a bouquet of daisies from the corner store in the center of the table, lower the lights, and turn up Enrique Iglesias or Bessie Smith. You could even conveniently forget the utensils so you have an excuse to feed each other.”
Get Swept Off Your Feet
Make up your own tango moves and groove with your guy for 15 minutes while you wait for dinner. Pop in the Marc Anthony CD, then press your pelvises together, entwine your legs, and twist and twirl around the living room. “Slow dancing is so intimate,” says Godek. “The way you stand hip-to-hip, block out the world, and sway to each other’s rhythms…now you’re really cookin’.”
You and your guy are having a Blockbuster night. But wait, think twice before you change into your lounging-on-the-couch clothes… You know, oversize T-shirt, shabby sweater. That gear isn’t exactly a recipe for a night of making googly eyes. Instead, slip into something a little more comfortable but a lot more cuddle-enticing. “A fitted T-shirt or a semisheer tank top, especially when worn without a bra, is a lot sexier than some too-big shirt you’re swimming in,” says fashion designer and Cosmo contributing editor Shoshanna Lonstein. “Pair it with your favorite perfectly worn-out blue jeans or khaki cutoffs for a casual but irresistible look.”
Dish with Him
Flash back to the ’50s and get passionate over pots and pans. “Okay, it’s totally old-fashioned and cornball, but I find doing dishes together incredibly romantic,” says Janet, a 28-year-old chiropractor. “My dishwasher went on the blink one night, and my boyfriend offered to help clean up. We both rolled up our sleeves and got sudsy in the warm water. We talked about the places we’d love to travel to, the crazy things we’d like to try just once in our lives, and our hands kept touching — we just got completely lost in each other as we did this mindless activity. It was so sweet and oddly intimate that I haven’t bothered to get the dishwasher fixed.”
Touch Tenderly in Front of the TV
When you’re both chilling out in front of the tube, heat things up with some hands-on action. “Give each other mini foot massages while watching the evening news,” suggests Laura Corn, author of 101 Nights of Grrreat Romance (Park Avenue Publishers, 1995). “Or lay your head in his lap and let him stroke your hair.” For the ultimate drive-in date experience, invest in an extralong extension cord and watch TV outside on the deck or on lawn chairs on the front stoop underneath the stars.
When no one’s looking, give your guy a sneak peek in public. Granted, it’s not exactly violins-in-the-background romantic, but it’s certainly guaranteed to send his heart (and pulse) soaring.
Send Him a Sweet Afternoon Treat
If you know your guy’s facing a particularly grueling, sucky afternoon at the office, call up a local restaurant that delivers and send him an I’m-thinking-about-you lunch, suggests Ilene Rosenzweig, coauthor of Swell: A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life (Warner Books, 1999). Let him know dessert’s waiting at your place later.
Play the Dating Game
Get out of the same old Saturday-night film-and-food groove. For your next date, come up with three out-of-the-ordinary evening ideas — perhaps a starlit ferry ride, a game of mini golf, dinner at a restaurant with a kind of food you’ve never tried, or even seen, before — and write them down on index cards, suggests David D. Coleman, coauthor of Date Smart! How to Stop Revolving and Start Evolving in Relationships (Prima Publishing, 1999). “Then, have your guy blindly choose one of the cards and embark on a mysterious, exotic adventure.”
Keep Him in the Dark
For the ultimate lights-out love nudge, fake a power outage. “Unplug the phone, computer, and TV, then turn off all the lights,” instructs Godek. “With nothing else to distract you, you have no choice but to break out the candles and cling to each other as you tell scary ghost stories…or just plain cling to each other.”
Ban the Peck
Replace that chaste, no-effort lip graze with a 10-second smooch — and make every single kiss a bit of bliss.
Map Out the Hot Spots in Your Neighborhood
Make it your mission to fool around in every prime passion nook of your neighborhood — behind trees, on nearby park benches, under a lamppost. Every time you walk out your front door with your dream guy, hit one of these desire-designated areas until you have the whole area PDA’d.
Write Him a Sexy Check
While you’re taking care of the bills, take care of your guy with a personal payment for head-to-toe kisses, suggests Godek. “Tell him he can cash in anytime.”
Make Out Every Time You’re Alone in an Elevator
Use this love-lifter as a cue to sneak in a secret smooch session.
Read Seductive Stories to Each Other
Pick up a steamy best-seller like Vox, by Nicholson Baker (it certainly got Monica boiling for Bill), and take turns reading it aloud. “My boyfriend and I love sharing juicy novels,” says Liz, a 30-year-old producer. “We’ll get in bed or curl up on the couch and take turns being the narrator. At first I was a bit nervous and rigid — I sounded like Rod Serling from The Twilight Zone — but eventually I found my natural rhythm and got really turned on by it. It’s so utterly romantic because we’re in this sort of fantastical fictional world together rather than sticking our noses in our respective books. And listening to my boyfriend’s voice is unbelievably sexy.”
Create some surprising postal passion by mailing I-want-you notes to your man. Start by telling him exactly what you love about every part of his body.
Play Barber Babe
Show your man some passionate pampering by giving him a sensual shave. After his morning shower, lather up his face with a great-smelling shaving cream and slide the razor in the direction the hair grows. “It’s a way to steal a very intimate moment when you’re both usually so rushed to get out the door,” says Kelly, a 26-year-old massage therapist who loves to groom her guy. “Not to mention the perfect excuse to straddle him.”
Tempt Him with a Slew of Where-to-Find-You Clues
Make your usual rendezvous a million times racier by keeping them mysterious for your man. “I have a standing Friday-evening drink date with my boyfriend,” says Sue, a 27-year-old tax attorney. “To keep it exciting, I have this trick for spicing things up: I send him on a treasure hunt…to find me. I pick an obscure, out-of-the-way bar, one we’d never normally go to in a million years. Then every hour on the hour during the workday, I send my boyfriend an e-mail feeding him clues about where I want him to meet me that night — little riddles that hint at the name, landmarks that will lead him to the location. When he puts all the pieces together, he finds me waiting in the most private booth I can find. Now he’s scheming up the next mystery meeting.”
Hold the Sports Section Hostage
Steal the paper before your guy gets a chance to check out the scores. Place a ransom note on his pillow and insist that your demands for a.m. sex, smooching, and snuggling be met before you’ll consider giving him access to the stats.
Outlaw Work Talk
Make office gripes and groans a taboo topic when having dinner with your doll. “My boyfriend and I make meals our time,” says Anne, a 29-year-old furniture maker. “We talk about upcoming vacations, friends, movies — anything that lets us share ideas instead of bombarding each other with tales of work woes. After eight hours of focusing on other people on the job, it’s such a luxurious treat to indulge in some time that’s all about us.” If professional topics accidentally pop up, quash them by saying, “Get your mind out of the grind and back onto me.”
Give Him an All-Day “Scentual” Reminder
“The next time your guy sleeps over, spritz a small item of clothing — scarf, underwear, camisole — with your signature fragrance, and slyly slip it into his briefcase or backpack,” suggests author Corn. “With your sexy scent wafting out every time he reaches into his bag, he won’t be able to take his mind off of you.” When the clock strikes 5, he’ll follow his nose all the way to your front door.
Get a Sound Track
Create your relationship repertoire by picking a few favorite songs (a sentimental score, a sultry in-the-mood croon, a sassy “Feel the Earth Move”-type number) that really capture the essence of your couplehood and make them yours by playing them on romantic, sexy occasions.
Compliment Each Other in Public
“My girlfriend tells everyone that I’m the most talented person she’s ever met,” says Andrew, 28, a teacher. “She’ll tell a cashier, ‘We’ll take a chocolate brownie because my guy so deserves it.’ When she introduces me, she says, ‘This is my hilariously funny boyfriend’ or ‘Meet my handsome boyfriend. He puts George Clooney to shame.’ My heart jumps every time. I swear it makes going to the deli sexy.”