Welcome to “Ask Ada,” a weekly series in which we answer all those burning questions you’d rather not share aloud. Today, a sweet guy wants some advice on how to show some love!
How do I show my girl that I really like her? She knows that I love her, but I still don’t know how to make that grand gesture.
I know it’s a bit of an advice column classic, but I’d like to talk to you about Sense and Sensibility. If you haven’t read it by now, that’s fine – there are great adaptations that will deliver the plot without the Regency-era English. The cliffnotes version is that patriarchy sucks, greedy relatives suck harder, and women can’t fucking win.
Anyway, one of the key points in the plot is the comparison between Marianne Dashwood’s two suitors. One gives her space, access to learning, support for her family while generally being a woke bae. The other guy? He gives her a pony.
Sorry for the indulgence, Matt, it’s just that there is a lesson from over 200 years ago that you will probably appreciate. Namely, a well-thought out gesture goes a lot further than a big, flamboyant one.
You say your woman knows you love her, but you still want to show her. This says a lot. It also tells me that this is more than a problem of differing love languages.
Look, I don’t know your relationship, but I’m willing to bet that you already have an idea about what to do, and you’re panicking that it won’t be enough. You’re thinking that a grand gesture must be expensive and flamboyant, rather than something understated that you know your woman will appreciate.
But, successful relationships thrive on understanding and listening to each other, not providing superficial bling.
Which brings us back to Marianne Dashwood’s horse. Aside from how inappropriate this would have been in 1813 (an unmarried girl + big expensive gift from a man who is not her fiance = she’s a hoe), there are practical implications that her suitor did not think through, such as the fact that Marianne and her family are dead ass broke. It would have been like giving a Ferrari to someone living on food stamps – impractical, tone-deaf, and incredibly expensive to keep.
It is therefore not surprising that the guy she ends up marrying is the one who literally ignores all of society’s bullshit and does everything he can to lift the barriers that deny her family a dignified life. His grand gesture was bringing her mother to see her when she is ill. His grand gesture was also standing by her when the rest of society shuns her for being “damaged goods”. He leveraged his privilege (as a white rich man in 1813 England) in favour of those less fortunate, and not for his own amusement.
Your grand gesture will be successful, Matt. Not because it’s expensive, but because it will show your woman that you can listen and follow through. You’ll give her something is meaningful to both her and you. You may not even plan it out.You might do something so completely mundane that you’d forget about it in a year’s time, but she will remember it as the one thing that made you a keeper.
Keep being you, Matt. The grandest gesture you can make is showing up and demonstrating that you pay attention. Trust me, this is worth its weight in gold.
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