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Now, once the honeymoon or euphoric stage of a relationship wears off, when you don’t get the five phone calls and one hundred texts per day, the over-the-top dates and gifts, how will he sustain the precedent he has set? How will you? This is the reason people say “the honeymoon is over.” When reality begins to penetrate the fairy tale, work, friends, family, children, hobbies, sports- the courtship gestures seem to go by the wayside.

Finally, and it’s almost a relief, you can think of something other than each other. You are not distracted to such an extent you are unable to focus on work and you occasionally see friends who are accusing you of being “whipped”- a charming term that never seems to lose it’s appeal.

Flowers no longer accompany him when he comes to dinner. He asks you to meet him for drinks instead of picking you up each time. She has to “call you back” instead of dropping everything to take your call. There is take-out instead of a home-cooked meal. Poker night resumes.

No one panic- this is totally normal- you are returning to homeostasis. The great news is you are a new version of yourself- you are in love- you are a couple. Now what?

A Clever Girl I know asked me- “Clever Girl, it’s great to learn how to get a guy, but once you get his attention, how do you keep him?” Great question! Thank you for asking.

Several words leap to mind- the first is authenticity. Being Clever is not about becoming someone else or pretending to be someone you are not- it is about growing, stretching and becoming a more rich version of the Clever girl you already are. So, in exposing yourself to new things, often those in the male realm, you are meeting new people and expanding your knowledge base. If you are lucky- you are finding you enjoy some of these new things.Now, if you meet someone who shares these interests- you are going to be able to be authentic with him when you ask if he wants to go to Hooters to get some wings and watch the Detroit Red Wings game. You found (after reading my upcoming post on Hooters) you really like the wings at Hooters, the beer is the coldest in town and they have so many TVs no one is denied their requested game.

Another word is romance. I discussed yesterday the need for a modern articulation of romance. Romantic notions tend to fade the longer the relationship goes on, because the mystery that existed while you were getting to know one another has translated to the honor of knowing the other and being known. This is where I see an opportunity for a new version of romance.

Romance and romantic gestures are not limited to gift-giving, luxurious dinners, last- minute getaways, deliveries of flowers, texts prompting butterflies and a quickened heart rate. True romance stems from two of my other favorite words: appreciation and acknowledgement.

I have a friend whose spouse does so much for her she has stopped noticing when he washes her car, or stops by the office on his way to work to bring her the coffee she didn’t have time to get, or how he calls to ask if she needs anything on his way home from work. She barely looks up when he walks in the door and pours her a glass of wine while she is cooking. My advice to him is to stop doing those things for a while and see if it gets her attention. It is critical, in our relationships, to express appreciation, thanks, want and need, and to acknowledge gestures.

Take the time to consider the other person three times a day- set an alarm on your phone if you must. Start small- wake up five minutes early and start the coffee maker, throw her towel in the dryer while she is in the shower and offer her both a hot cup of coffee and a warm towel when she emerges. Think about a way you could brighten his day- drop off lunch to his office because you know he is stuck there and likely to be eating out of a vending machine. Text her out of the blue and tell her you cannot wait to catch up over a glass of wine at home. In most cases- if knowing your person, and being known by them, matters to you- it is time to express it.

You know he is excited about an upcoming game- tell him to invite the guys over. Stock the fridge MTV style (with beer and snacks) and make a day of it with the girls. If you know his favorite ’80s band is touring and heading your way- buy a couple of tickets (but do not assume you are going). Listen to him. Remember the small things- if his feet are cold when he crawls in bed at night- get him some snuggly slippers and leave them at the front door with a cold beer to welcome him home. When she lets you know she is 10 minutes from home- run a bath for her, find the book she “never has time to read” and put it by the tub.

I got a note from guy who asked me how he could let his girlfriend know she could consider his place hers (not move in, but come at any time). I suggested he surprise her after work one day by picking her up, taking her to dinner and asking her to stay over. She would argue she had none of her things and it would be a hassle to get up early to get ready before work, so he’d resign and offer just a glass of wine at his place (What working girl would turn that down?) I told him to write down all of the products in her shower and bathroom- including make-up basics. I sent him on a mission to purchase them, along with a cute sweatsuit, an all-purpose tennis shoe, a sleeping tank top and shorts, and clean undies.

When they arrived at his place, he announced he’d picked up a toothbrush and a few items for her- they were in his bathroom. She told him it was the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for her. That he took the time to stock his home with her products- just so they could spend more time together meant more to her than an expensive piece of jewelry or dinner. We vote with time and effort. A Clever Girl doesn’t miss a trick. A text from him means he is thinking of you- be flattered, think of him.

I was listening to two women at Starbucks while I was working on one of my other posts- it was impossible not to hear them. The brunette was showing off the new bracelet her husband purchased “for no reason,” and the blonde was lamenting her own husband’s lack of romance. “He never does anything romantic. If I want to go out to dinner, I have to make the reservation, find a sitter,” she sat back in a bit of a pout. The brunette then reported with little emotion her husband was always picking up little things for her on trips and bringing home flowers- it sounded to me as if it was more important to her to be able to “praise” her husband and “show-off” than she actually appreciated his gestures.

At that moment- the door opened and a man rushed in, came over to the table and reached for the blonde’s keys, which were on the table. “Hi there, ladies,” he smiled (and it was a lovely smile) and traded keys with her. “What are you doing?” she asked with a little irritation. “I noticed you were low on gas and I am heading to Costco so I thought I’d fill your tank.” He leaned down to give her a kiss and she offered him a cheek. Once he’d gone the brunette in the new bracelet said- “Wow, I can’t remember the last time anyone pumped my gas.” The blonde said- “I don’t like to pump gas.” Her friend said, “Neither do I.” I heard her voice falter a bit and I snagged the implication- like it or not, she was pumping her own gas.

Her phone rang, it was her husband. She explained where she was and reminded him she’d told him twice she had plans for coffee. She hung up- obviously irritated. “He never listens to a thing I say.” They continued to twitter about things of little interest to me and it gave me the opportunity to sit back and give it some thought.

Seems to me, the blonde has a better deal- for many reasons. Her husband listens to her, notices her, goes out of his way to take some of the burden off of her and does so without complaint and in spite of what radiated from her as irritation. The brunette gets gifts for “no reason”- that means her husband can think of no reason to purchase a gift. He didn’t do it to celebrate her role as a mother, because he thought the initial of their daughter’s first name belonged on a chain close to her heart, or felt she needed a break from work and planned to shuttle her for 24 hours alone, to a hotel downtown- he packed a bag- replete with a bottle of her favorite wine, some bath salts, a change of clothing, the new book by her favorite author, her lap-top and three fashion magazines.

No- the gifts to the brunette are for no reason at all. Does he even know her or care where she is? For all he knows she is stranded on the side of the road with no gas and a dead phone battery.

In a relationship where you are known and you take the time and effort to know- romance abounds. Each time you think of that person- act on it. You are never too busy to shoot someone a text that causes butterflies, to make a stop and pick up his favorite bottle of Barolo, to put some of his shaving cream in a little dish and warm it gently, to leave a note next to his toothbrush thanking him for being such an amazing friend. This is TRUE romance. The rest is easy. Who can’t pick up a dozen roses or a bracelet? BE CLEVER.