One night in September 2010, I was propped against a table in our local indie bar, fighting the urge to cry from the excruciating pain in my feet, shoes in hand, wondering when my friend (and taxi partner) would tire and be ready to leave. After many failed attempts to give my friend the, ‘I need to go to bed’ face, a tall, dark and very handsome man staggered over, grabbed my hand and pulled me onto the crowded dance floor. We screamed Kings of Leon lyrics at each other, swayed, danced and stuck to the floor (yes, my stockinged feet were precariously dancing amongst spilt beer and glass, lots of glass), and in the midst of a twirl, he disappeared. That’s right; he wandered off and left me to dance, alone, in the middle of the dancefloor, surrounded by Noel Gallagher lookalikes. And that is mine and Dom’s first encounter – oh, the romance. My vanishing Casanova did reappear the next day in the form of a Facebook apology message, and from there, our six week period of non-stop texting began.
What followed this initial bizarre (and slightly confusing) meet, was months of typical honeymoon period behaviour. We had flowers, romantic meals, I surprised him with tickets to his favourite comedian, and he surprised me with an impromptu birthday trip to Paris – to stay in the Dominique Hotel, on Dominique street (smooth move) – and many trips to the cinema (because where else should a new couple go, but to a dark room where you aren’t allowed to talk to each other for a few hours). After three months of peacocking, we decided to move in together – fast, yes but rest assured that it was the first and last time that our relationship moved at such speeds. What this speedy union did do was forced us to discover the real ‘us’ quicker than most. Soon my carefully styled ‘messy bun’ that had in reality taken me ages to perfect – in an attempt to trick Dom into thinking I was laid back and effortlessly cool – actually became authentic and was thrown into a hair tie within seconds. My casual outfit of jeans and a carefully selected I-just-threw-this-on jumper soon became the real deal of casual outfits – pyjamas. And our Saturday nights of dining out soon turned into full weekends of box sets and takeaways. And this has continued for the last six years. Of course, we still enjoy the odd child-free night here and there, but deep down we’re homebodies. We love nothing more than putting on our pj’s as early as we can get away with, grabbing a cup of tea, and sitting together mute on the sofa for the entire night.
I know that this life isn’t for everyone. Some crave the traditional romance, the grand gestures, the moments where you stumble across your ex-boyfriend who has come to Paris to declare his undying love for you and save you from your mean Russian boyfriend (and for that, I blame rom-com movies and Sex and the City). But if you are coming to the end of your honeymoon period with your new love, and you can slowly feel your relationship moving into the ‘comfortable zone’, then do not fear; the best is yet to come.
I haven’t received flowers in years, nor am I whisked to Paris on the weekend, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel butterflies, love, or romanced. I do, every day. I just find these things in a different way – the nightly cup of tea that is without fail handed to me at 9 pm every night; the warmed croissant I come home to after the morning school run; and that moment when he decides to clear fromhis side of the bed the mound of clothes that have accumulated over the week. These are the little – some might say insignificant – things that Dominic does for me, to make my life easier, more enjoyable and that bit more special. And I’m not the only one who cherishes these moments; when I asked the Instagram world to share the romantic gestures that are personal to them, my heart melted. If you don’t believe me, read the below (be warned, you may experience goosebumps and warm, happy tears).
‘My Valentine’s Day gift was a pizza delivered, and he didn’t even have to ask which one I wanted’ – Freya, @freyadowson.
‘He buys me potted jasmine for the balcony when I manage to kill off the plants I’ve got’ – Dee, @vanilla_papers.
‘He does baby bedtime every night so that I can get 10 minutes of Insta scrolling in peace’ – Fifi, @whimsyandgrey.
“He loves that when he falls asleep while reading in bed, I get up to mark his page” – @pattinow.
“…a dance in the kitchen, saying ‘I love you’ as we walk out the door,” – Pia, @piavibekegrace.
“He gets up earlier than me and turns on the heating, so that when I wake up the house is warmer” – Rocío – @little_arroz.
“He makes pancakes and a latte every Sunday for breakfast….and I’m there to remind him of family birthdays and important events” – Caren, @carenbarry.
“Listening to him waffling on about his cycling heroes” – Emma, @emssquire.
“He stands beside the traffic when we are walking on the road”– Tena, @tenabunda.
“He takes our little one for a walk in the morning on a Saturday and I can have a lie in and a cup of tea in peace”– Elena, @bonita.aurelia.
“She looks after and cares for and genuinely loves my son like he’s her own….and it shows in everything she does from doing the dishes, to school runs and hospital appointments, to going to KFC when I really need a greasy pick me up. She’s the best.”– @i_love_murasaki
“Straightens my collars and gets my closet in order when it’s a mess” – @mallikamalik.
“It’s the exchanging of adorable animal photos throughout the day for us – always makes me smile” – Bella, @thedoorsofldn.
“She listens to my work stories and pretends to be interested in the life of my work collegues. She holds my hand absolutely everywhere without fear to be judged” – @cocolimeandlove.
“He holds my hands for hours if we watch tv….and he folds up all the clean laundry every Monday” – Anita, @anitaellingsen
“Coming home with my favorite ice-cream every week and making my breakfast and coffee every day he has off work” – Alison, @allthingsalij.
“The way he looks at me” – @loveisrael.
“Has the wine ready when he knows I’ve had a tough shift at work” – Jo, @ridgiezola.
“He always makes me coffee so it’s ready when I wake up and sets out breakfast”– Brooke, @brookegail.b.
“It’s everything” – Skeeter, @theteatreegirl.
“Watching Harry Potter when I’m sad because he knows how much I love it” – @scarletslettersblog.
“He makes all the arrangements on the phone because he knows I hate talking on the phone, especially to strangers” – Sasha, @seashell_sh.
“Us being on the same page with our outlook on life, his total dedication to our family”– @prepare_share_enjoy.
“Always offers me the ‘first’ bubbles of sparkling water” – Amélie, @amelietoucourt.
“It’s the disapperaing trash bag and thoughtful post it note shoved in my book, my jacket pocket or bedside drawer” – Abby, @abbsharmison.
“He never drinks his beloved beer when I’m out without him, so that I can call for him to pick me up” – Britt, @remainsoftheday_.
“He always reads his book out loud in the evening, so I can fall asleep with his voice” – Leah, @leahmitherz.