Posted On February 10, 2012 by Print This Post

Handsome Hansel – A Man’s Eye View of the World of Romance

Welcome a very dear friend of mine, Handsome Hansel or HH as he’s known to his friends from Dance of Romance If you want warm fuzzies for your romantic side, make sure you follow HH on Twitter at @DanceOfRomance

Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day wasn’t invented for men. It was an idea latched onto ages ago by women who needed at least one day a year where they could count on their man to go out of his way to express his love for her… hopefully with some sincerity behind it.

At the risk of sounding a bit whiny…it’s a lot of pressure to put on a man. The wounds from the holidays have finally healed. The last rogue pieces of confetti from the New Years Party have all been accounted for and thrown away. All just in time for Hallmark to spin us around and throw us back in the ring for another round, with barely a splash of water on our face. Why do we not resist getting thrown back in, ladies? Because we love you and are willing to go to any length to prove it. Even if we get our ass kicked in the meantime.

My point was proven this afternoon at the local mall. I needed inspiration for characters to write about so I decided to go people watch for a while. Standing in line at Starbucks in the heart of the mall, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation between the two thirty-something men behind me. In the time it took for the barista to make my drink, I learned they were at the mall with the intention of “knocking out” their Valentine’s Day shopping during their lunch hour. (Keep in mind ladies, we love you.)

Taking a little longer than usual stirring sweetener into my coffee, I wait until the guys are handed theirs and decide to follow them. I’m genuinely interested to see if they will be able to accumulate enough tokens of love and affection in under 60 minutes to warrant their significant others holding onto them for a while longer.

Obviously intending to get the easiest gift out of the way first, they make a beeline for the card shop. As they scour the racks looking for the just the right card with just the right words and just the right pictures, I take a moment to size them up. While they both come in at around 6 feet tall that is the only similarity they share. The dark haired one is dressed in a casual suit and is closing in on 40. He’s also the only one wearing a wedding ring. His fair-haired friend is in the shallow end of his 30s and is wearing jeans and a shirt with his name stitched on it. They’re expediently skimming each card, occasionally sharing one they think comes close to what they want to say. After a dozen or so tries, they each find a card that suits them and it’s off to the next stop.

For the next half hour, I watch as they pin-ball from store to store,, buying gifts for their lovers. Gifts that say what they can’t put into words.

Married guy’s gifts are more practical. His wife is getting a couple candles, the obligatory stuffed animal and a classy, yet sexy, pair of pajamas from Victoria’s Secret which scream, “I’ve learned my lesson from the Valentine’s Day of ’07 thong debacle.”

Single guy on the other hand will be showering his girlfriend with an assortment of bath oils, the obligatory stuffed animal, some bedroom “novelty” items from Spencer’s, and a lace teddy with matching thong from VS which earns him an all-knowing, Don’t do it! shake of the head from Married Guy.

It’s obvious they have wrapped up their shopping trip and I was about to break off and find a place to write when Married Guy nudges his buddy and nods his head towards a jewelry store. As I drew closer there was some good-natured ribbing going on and I heard Married Guy ask, “When are you finally going to ask Julie to marry you?”

“Soon. I’m thinking when we take our vacation in a couple months. I really want to do it right. She deserves it.”

“I couldn’t agree more. Asking Em to marry me was one of the best days of my life, right behind our wedding day.”

Single Guy seemed to reflect on this then asks, “No regrets?”

Without hesitation, “None. I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

They exchange a goodbye handshake peppered with a few more chuckles. I toss my cup in the garbage and as I head for the door I can’t help but wonder if our attempts to be romantic through gifts, cards and sweets on Valentine’s Day can ever express what us men truly feel deep in our hearts but fall over ourselves sometimes to say. Sometimes the best gift you can give is one that’s not bought.


RU Readers – Here’s your chance to get the man’s eye view on romance, Valentine’s Day and love – got questions?

Join us on Monday for Creating Characters for the Keeper Shelf with Donna MacMeans – and don’t forget the Tainted Love Contest RU is hosting for Valentine’s Day.


Bio: Like most of us, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or three) in the relationship world. I like to think of myself as having a pretty thick skin, however, that skin doesn’t surround the heart.

I’ve been in love; I’ve been in lust. I’ve been hurt and got up to do it all again, each time having learned more of myself as well as “wants” and “don’t wants” for my next relationship. Amazingly enough, I never gave up on that one true love wrapped in Romance. You can visit me here, at

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19 Responses to “Handsome Hansel – A Man’s Eye View of the World of Romance”

  1. Welcome to RU, HH. Like you, I love to people watch. In my younger days, my friend and I used to go to the local dance club to watch the drama rather than to find guys.

    My husband is an awesome romantic. He knows I don’t care for jewelry or expensive gifts. Give me a great V-day card and pasta puttanesca and I’m a happy girl. If he adds a Barnes and Noble gift card, I’m a VERY happy girl.

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | February 10, 2012, 5:43 am
    • Tracey,

      First of all…Thank You for being the first to welcome me! I am very thankful Carrie has brought me into the fold here at RU.

      People watching for me is cathartic. Besides simply becoming charecters in a lot of what I write, it makes me appreciate the individuality each of us bring to the human race. We all have a story we are living. (Some more animatedly than others.) 🙂

      Being a guy in this website’s roomful of women, it’s refreshing to here that there are a lot of men out there who are romantic and don’t hesitate showing it.

      A Barnes and Noble gift card, huh? 🙂 There really is something sexy about a new book, isn’t there?


      Posted by HH | February 10, 2012, 3:23 pm
  2. Hey Handsome! (Okay – I know you probably get that all the time but I couldn’t resist.)

    I think that people of both genders but more often women, get hung up on hearing those three little words all the time and ignore the everyday signs of love from their man (my guy takes my stuff out to my car for me in the mornings so that I don’t have to – awww). Are men more comfortable “showing” than “telling”.

    Also, my guy friends have an idea that if a woman sleeps with you “too early” then she’s taken you out of serious contention for a relationship and just wants to to fool around. I think they are dead wrong. What say you?

    Thanks for being with us today!


    Posted by Robin Covington | February 10, 2012, 5:46 am
    • Robin,

      Thanks for the kind words and warm welcome.

      I personally don’t see anything wrong with saying, “I Love You” as many times as is needed. I would have to say however that men tend to be showers rather than tellers. (I think my 4th grade English teacher just rolled over in her grave.)

      Quite frankly, it’s easier for us men. We’re still not too far removed from our Neanderthal ancestors in that regard. We’ll go out of our way to invent fire to keep you warm at night, chisel a wheel to help you get around and even wrestle a wild boar to keep your belly full but when our backs up against the cave wall sometimes the best we can muster is an “Ugg” and if you’re a lucky a boyish grin to go along with it.

      We do love you ladies and we want to protect and look out for you. It’s what our DNA conducts us to do.

      To answer your other question… Wow where do I start? 🙂

      I’m not really sure I have ever met a man who thinks a woman has slept with him “too early”. That being said, I don’t understand the double standard at play here. If a woman wants to sleep with a man on the second date and he says, “duh, ok”, I don’t really believe he has taken her out of contention for a serious relationship. So why would the opposite hold true?

      Maybe she is taking him for a test drive to see if she wants to take the relationship further. To make sure there is a compatibility in the bedroom as well in the other parts of the relationship. Of course if it’s the guy who wants to take things a bit slower we run the risk of the woman thinking we aren’t that attracted to them which isn’t true. Sometimes it’s a way of showing respect.

      I’d be interested in hearing more of your take on this topic!


      Posted by HH | February 10, 2012, 3:40 pm
  3. Morning HH!

    Glad to have you here on RU…=) and with such a great post! I admit I teared up a bit at the end. =)

    I agree that I think men are more show than tell. When my sister’s husband took off from work for 15 min, scraped the ice off her car windows and started her car so it would be warm while she drove 2 blocks to work? We all said awwwwww….that’s so SWEET! When my husband gets up super early to snowblow the driveway so I can get to work? Same thing. Awww. Definitely a more show than tell kinda guy. =)

    Great to have you with us today, HH!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | February 10, 2012, 8:39 am
  4. Hi HH,

    Buying for a woman is tough. Stalking at the mall is better on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. Clueless men abound! I’ve been tempted to walk up and offer to find something for their wives or moms. For a small fee. My father was a romantic kind of guy. He cooked and did the grocery shopping. He didn’t need no stinkin’ card. She knew he was a keeper.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | February 10, 2012, 8:52 am
    • Mary Jo,

      I think most men today (and some women) have been so brainwashed by the card companies, stores, etc which have convinced them the only way of saying I love you is spending money on someone.

      For me, the greatest gift is one that is unexpected. I would rather get a surprise from my lover on a random day than a day a calender I’m supposed to get one.

      I have to hand it to your entrepreneurial spirit! You could make some serious money offering those services to the clueless at the mall!

      Keep me posted how it works out!


      Posted by HH | February 10, 2012, 3:47 pm
  5. Hi, HH. Welcome to RU. I LOVED this post. I’ve often joked that I may have been a man in a past life because I don’t really need all the Valentines Day hoopla. The hubby and I usually go out to dinner and exchange cards and we’re done. His theory is, if I want something, I should just buy it. I’m certainly not opposed to that. LOL.

    I agree that sometimes the best gift is the one that isn’t bought. On brutally cold days my husband will take my car and gas it up for me so I don’t have to stand out in the cold. That does it for me every time!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | February 10, 2012, 11:08 am
    • Adrienne,

      There is something very relaxing limiting the requirements a day like V-Day puts on us. A relationship such as you and your hubby have is stronger than other relationship because you both see the silliness of being forced to show something you both already know exists between you.

      And it doesn’t hurt you have Carte blanche with the credit card! 😉


      Posted by HH | February 10, 2012, 3:52 pm
  6. Hi HH! I’m a cheap date when it comes to Valentine’s Day and anniversaries. My husband and I have a 3-card tradition. It takes the pressure off him AND our bank account.

    We each look for the perfect cards for each other, which usually includes one or more with a nice romantic (not mushy) message, and one or more with a funny, goofy and sometimes suggestive message. Sometimes we’ll go out to dinner, but that’s optional.

    So, yeah, I’m a cheap date when it comes to diamonds, etc. But, boy howdy, it’s another story when it comes to books.

    The most romantic thing my husband does – and he does it a lot – is NOT to blink or raise his eyebrows when yet another package of books arrives in the mail. And he usually suggests a restaurant in or near a bookstore for our date nights.

    To me, THAT’S romance. I’ve got nothing against chocolates or flowers, but that’s just frosting on the cake.

    Posted by Becke Davis (Becke Martin) | February 10, 2012, 11:14 am
  7. Becke,

    You’re a cheap date? Where were you 25 years ago?!

    Your hubby is a very smart man for not making a peep when the books arrive. Afterall, he sees how happy they make you and isn’t that what relationships are supposed to be about? Happiness? Sometimes the simplest things can have the greatest impact.

    A relationship like yours is to be envied.


    Posted by HH | February 10, 2012, 3:56 pm
  8. Sorry ladies but I have to police myself. I have a pet-peeve regarding misspellings.



    Whew….I’m better now.


    Posted by HH | February 10, 2012, 4:21 pm
  9. Hola HH!

    I do feel for men faced with the pressure of Valentine’s Day or any kind of romantic gesture. I remember when I worked in retail and dealt with men rushing into the shop on V-day looking for anything that I could wrap up for their wives. (A blender isn’t exactly what a woman wants for V-day, but maybe he and his wife don’t abide by a “no appliance” rule.)

    Like Becke, I’m a cheap date. And I’d rather the gesture be from the heart as opposed to an obligation.

    My husband called and asked if I wanted my roses in a box or in a vase for V-day. I told him to save the money and we’d go out for a nice dinner when he gets back.

    As you stated, it’s the little things that someone does for you every day that are important. Whether it’s a bag of pastries from my favorite bakery on a Saturday or a $1.99 Breakfast Jack from Jack in the Box, I know my husband was thinking of me.

    Thanks so much for being with us today!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | February 10, 2012, 4:54 pm
  10. How wonderful it is to hear your written voice again. I have greatly missed your always insightful perspective into the minds of men. I could picture the shopping venture of those two as if I were a few steps behind you observing as well, because you always describe every situation with such believable detail. I especially loved the message at the end that without hesitation Married Guy had no regrets. Sweet. Hope to hear more from you soon. : )

    Posted by Evangelina Joseph | February 10, 2012, 11:19 pm
  11. What a world of difference between a boyfriend and a husband when it comes to gift giving.

    Hopefully their significant others appreciated the gifts, I know I would.

    When it comes to Valentines Day, all I expect is a card, anything else is appreciated, but not needed.

    I rather have random spur of the moment gifts than have it feel like a ‘must’.

    Posted by Soraya E. | November 2, 2012, 11:30 am


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