WASHINGTON — Whether it’s charming the barista into adding an extra shot of espresso to your order or convincing your co-workers that your project proposal is the best, chances are you spend a lot of time wooing others. And like most things, wooing is an art form — especially when it comes to romance.
Charmaine Flanagan, of Howard County, Maryland, is an expert in the persuasion department. As the founder and “woo-ru” at Woo Forever, she spends her days helping people win others over. If you’re thinking Flanagan’s job involves instructions on fluttering eyelashes, puckering lips and flashing flirty smiles, think again: She says new relationships hardly need any work in the wooing category — that’s automatic.
“Whether you know it or not, you start to really lean in to the person, listen to what they’re saying, open the door for them — really pay attention to what’s going on,” Flanagan says about new relationships.
She’s busy with more established couples, because it’s when the butterflies settle and commitment ensues that the wooing slows down. But it doesn’t have to disappear for good.
“Often if you’ve been together so long, you can forget [to woo], and we need a reminder,” she says.
If you want to ramp up the woo-factor in your relationship, Flanagan has some advice — just in time for Valentine’s Day.
The first step to putting some woo back into your romance, Flanagan says, is to figure out what makes your partner feel most loved — whether it’s gifts, quality time, physical touch, affirmations or acts of service — an approach she uses based on Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages.
Once you nail down your partner’s language, it’s time to tap into it with some creative ideas.
Flanagan says if your significant other prefers acts of service, surprise your partner by cleaning the house before he/she gets home. Do some extra laundry this week, or take the car in to get serviced. In busy households, small gestures of service go a long way.
For a grander gesture, take your partner out to dinner and arrange for a cleaning service to come while you are gone. When you arrive back home, you’ll both walk into a sparkling clean home.
“It’s not about gifts; it’s about helping out,” Flanagan says. “And those things can really make you look sexy to your partner.”
If your partner likes quality time, instead of going out to a crowded restaurant you can create a picnic in the middle of the living room floor. Get a bottle of wine, light a few candles and tune out distractions for a few hours.
“It’s just you and your partner, and that’s what quality time is all about,” Flanagan says.
Those who prefer physical touch might be pleased with a back rub, and dropping a nice note into your significant other’s work bag might win over someone who prefers words and affirmations.
Like most things in life, putting a little extra thought into what your partner needs out of a relationship will go a long way, Flanagan says — on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.
“It’s about being creative; it’s not really about the heart-shaped chocolate box and it’s not about the flowers … it’s about honing in on what the love language is and being creative around that.”
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