How do i win something back?
January 28, 2008 9:43 AM   Subscribe

I dropped the ball on this one....year anniversary. Is there anyway to win her back?

So i dropped the ball on our 1 year anniversary. I just didn't come through to meet her expectations or mine. It came at a time in the year when we had just returned from a vacation and just had celebrated New Years. I was worn-out and on the day of, basically hungover. It mortified her when i simply suggested we "can go to dinner, but i dont feel well".

THIS combined with some other instances of me being less than romantic has lead her to question a lot about us and me. She's a dreamer and wants it to be perfect and i dont blame her. She feels a large chunk of "it" is just missing with a falter on the 1 year celebration.

Its rounding our 1 year and 1 month and i want to do something very admirable. I'd like to win her heart back completely though im not sure if its possible but i want to try.

What can things or thing can i do? I'd like to do small things leading up to the anniversary - clever surprises, little acts that lead towards 1 big piece. A surprise of some sorts on the day of our anniversary would be great too. Any ideas would be great.
posted by AMP583 to Human Relations (31 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Before you got married, did you do random spontaneous romantic things for her? If you did, start doing those things again. You could give little funny gifts, sweet notes of I-Love-You, a single flower of her favorite kind, a treasure hunt to a fancier gift.

If you didn't, then her expectations do not coincide with reality which is probably more her problem than yours.
posted by at 9:52 AM on January 28, 2008

I keep a few of my woman's favorite candy in my shirt pocket at all times. It works great.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 9:56 AM on January 28, 2008 [7 favorites]

This problem is not a 1 day a year thing, you need to put a visible effort in all the time. Relationships don't just happen, they like everything else in life require constant effort on your part to succeed. So don't try to make it up to her with one big gesture, just try to step it up every day with little things.
posted by BobbyDigital at 9:57 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Daily little surprises (hidden notes, a flower, etc.) that denote "I'm thinking about you" seem to be very appreciated by those who feel neglected.

That said, I think the petulant "You missed our anniversary" and "OMG, what can I do to make it up to her?" thing is a pretty troubling sign in a relationship. Did you get married, or is this the same girlfriend you were breaking up with back in September? If so, you might want to consider whether you're prolonging something that's heading downhill anyway (i.e., you may not be able to "win her back" but it probably has nothing to do with the anniversary).
posted by jasper411 at 9:58 AM on January 28, 2008

Before you got married, did you do random spontaneous romantic things for her?

I don't think they're married.
posted by amro at 9:58 AM on January 28, 2008

If you didn't, then her expectations do not coincide with reality which is probably more her problem than yours

There might be an expectations issue on her side, but don't use that as an excuse to say, oh well, I am what I am, might as well get comfortable and never change. We could all stand to improve ourselves.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:59 AM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

Yes, in the beginning of a relationship especially, women tend to place more importance on these things than men do. I remember being very disappointed myself once.

So, things you can do: check out 1001 Ways to be Romantic (the book by Greg Godek), or some suggestions from Greg Godek and his readers, here.

The best way to be romantic is to do something personally meaningful, so it is hard for us, not knowing her, to give you specific suggestions. Seeing some other general ideas like the ones above, though, may help you brainstorm ideas more fitting for your partner.
posted by misha at 10:00 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Take a week off, or if you can't take a week, take the time you're away from work, and dedicate yourself to her and her alone for a week.

Talk about the things she likes to talk about. Show true interest - meaning ask lots of questions and be prepared to listen to a lot of answers. Even if the subjects don't interest you, how your girlfriend (congrats on getting back together) moves through the times/stories/events should, if you care about her.

While you're doing chores around the house, talk to her, text her, communicate with her and ask her who did the chores growing up in her house. While you prepare and cook dinner, find out what dishes she always wanted to try, or that made her sick once, or that she found to be most appealing. While you massage her feet, ask about those dozens of shoes she never wears, and why, and what she was doing when she wore them last. As you lotion up her hands, notice the shapes and contours and note anything neat or intriguing about them.

"Did your mom brush your hair all hard?" as you slide the brush through her hair, or your hands through it.

And so on. For one week, forget about this place, about drinking, about your gym league about the superbowl, about your favorite magazine or news show or nightly poker game or the amount of rebounds Tim Duncan got. Whatever you're doing at work can stay at work.

And if you decide to do this, do it. Don't do one thing and then go outside yourself to let the voices of those elsewhere in society, talk to you about how this looks or anything else. Just give her a week.

It'll actually be a lot more fun than you might think. It might not seem that way when you're watching hours of television programming you're completely unfamiliar with, or cutting up a tomato for a salad, but you'll learn so much and your girlfriend might actually be surprised for an extended period of time, and not just for a day or two.

I am not responsible if you continue to get to know your girlfriend in this manner even after the one-week period.
posted by cashman at 10:04 AM on January 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Not to be intentionally negative, but while grand gestures do count for something:

1) It's the day-in day-out unconscious behaviors that matter in the long run. Don't count on this redeeming you if you're otherwise coming up short on a daily basis.

2) If you have to rely on a website to tell you what spontaneous, thoughtful surprises you can spring on your gal, I beg you to never let on that AskMe was your modern-day Cyrano, or all gains will be erased.

3) "She's a dreamer and wants it to be perfect and i dont blame her." I kinda do. Perfection is a very hard standard to live up to. I'm not saying that one shouldn't aspire, but nothing's ever like it is in the movies, you know? This could be a troubling sign of irrational expectations.

But, be that as it may, you're in the doghouse and you want help from the internet? Unfortunately, you've not given us much to go on. The idea here isn't to show that you're generous, but that you're thoughtful, considerate, and moved by your love to do things for her. Generic gifts aren't going to cut the mustard -- oh, sure, flowers and chocolates and whatnot are always nice in the mix, but what you want is stuff that says "I know you, and this is specially-crafted to be appropriate." You're gonna have to tell us a lot more about her if you want us to suggest the kind of highly-personalized thoughtful activities that are needed to save your bacon in this fashion.
posted by mumkin at 10:05 AM on January 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

Some suggestions that have come to my mind:

-Take her to a Benni-Hanna (SP?) style restaurant and talk to the chef before hand to do something special (maybe incoporate some jewelry with his act)

-Dueling Piano bars (IF and only IF she is into these) are amazingly fun. Dancing, song requests (have them dedicate a special song to her) etc... My ex and I loved these.

-Buy tickets to see her favorite band in concert. (Don't wuss out on the higher seats, get front-row if you can)

-Comedy clubs are always fun and special. Especially if you sit in the front row, they pick on you :)

-Cliche' but still heart melting... set up a candle light dinner before she comes home and surprise her.

Things happen, we forget important events all the time. I don't think this is a sign of a rough relationship like most of the others are talking about. If she forgives you, she ovbiously loves you too much to get upset.

Good luck
posted by Schuby at 10:07 AM on January 28, 2008

I think Mumkin hit the nail on the head.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 10:10 AM on January 28, 2008

TBH, I think your girlfriend needs a sharp poke with the reality stick,or you need to get more observant because she's either being a complete drama queen about this or theres more to it than a disappointing anniversary - its not even like you forgot.

As much as women can completely over-react over stuff like this, men can be equally oblivious to the subtle signs that their woman is unhappy.

You say its coming up to your 1 year and 1 month anniversary and you think this is a good time to 'win her back'... Are you forgetting Valentines day? Sounds like that would be a good time to me.

Tell her you love her - every day.
Suprise her with flowers - randomly and spontaneously (if its on a regular schedule its just not the same)
Give her lots of hugs and kisses and try to make sure you give her at least 1 evening a week of your undivided attention.

My boyfriend is terrible about remember anniversaries and things like that but he's a wonderful, loving man and I know it doesn't mean he doesn't love me or I'm not important - he's just a man ;)
posted by missmagenta at 10:16 AM on January 28, 2008

I think the emotional value of anniversaries comes from (re)asserting something like, "I still think you're just as amazing as I did on our first date, and more. Our future is going to be even better still." Unfortunately, your less-thougtful-than-usual dinner date sent exactly the opposite message. Next time, call it off entirely and give it your full attention as soon as you're feeling well again.

I'd suggest that you start thinking more about what you're celebrating. What exceptional things about her might you want to highlight to let her know you appreciate more than ever (her eyes: jewelry, clothes, flowers; her taste in music: concert tickets, extravagant Amazon giftcard)? What exceptional things about this relationship might you want to highlight? Maybe a year ago you went on a great date that could be reprised or expanded on. Maybe that first summer you went kayaking, so you plan a great trip for the summer coming up. Maybe you want to start a new activity together, so you set up the beginnings of that (a class, trip tickets, a set of books, a Wii). Maybe you design and cook a meal together, get some seeds and lay out a computer version of your summer garden together... the specifics really depend on your actual personalities.

P.S. It sounds like you'd better not forget Valentine's Day either.
posted by xo at 10:32 AM on January 28, 2008

A scavenger hunt/puzzle type thing would lead towards one big piece as you request. Or, I saw Sydney White recently (i know, i know) and there was this cute scene where the male romantic lead had six guys deposit a rose on the desk of the female romantic lead while making some acapella background noises. After the last guy puts down the rose, the male lead comes in singing some love song. I totally melted. If there's a love scene she adores from a favorite movie, could you act that out with your own twist?

In all seriousness though, I'd be wary. It doesn't sound like she was very understanding, especially given the background of the situation. Life isn't a romantic comedy. As missmagenta said, it's the little things, not the grand gestures. Is she looking for big gestures often, or is this a culmination of you not really doing anything romantic throughout the relationship?

FWIW, to me, it doesn't look like you forgot the anniversary. It looks like you forgot/neglected to plan a memorable evening to celebrate said anniversary. Is that correct? Two very different grievances in my book. She could have just as easily planned something or you guys could have gotten a rain check and celebrated the following weekend.
posted by ml98tu at 10:37 AM on January 28, 2008

It seems like at this point that if you do make a big deal about the anniversary - doing something big and grand - she's going to question your motives, whether you're only doing it because she guilted you into it or whether you are doing it sincerely. Really, any thing you do at this point she is going to question and that sucks for you.

You could turn it all around, though, and ask why she didn't do something phenomenal for your anniversary - why didn't she plan anything? Why is it always up to you? And why is this your 1 year anniversary when she broke up with you in September? Tell her you were planning a huge cruise this upcoming September for your 1 year anniversary.

Like others have said, you're probably the best one to determine what to do for her to help heal this. We don't know her and what her interests are, what she thinks is romantic. I'm a big hater of the whole chocolates and flowers thing, but maybe she loves that stuff. I'd say go simple for now (a nice dinner, a walk along the beach or the sidewalk, a simple yet elegant and appropriate gift), acknowledge that your anniversary was kinda sucky and then go all out for V Day. And start planning NOW for V Day. Get your ducks in a row. Make that memorable.
posted by Sassyfras at 10:56 AM on January 28, 2008

The anniversary issue is something I have long been baffled by. The grumpiness that results from a missed anniversary marking seems disturbingly hypocritical -- in that the woman is therefore dictating that her feelings about it matter above all others. And that's not ladylike.
posted by vanoakenfold at 11:13 AM on January 28, 2008

Response by poster: RE: jasper411
Yes this is the same woman reflected in my September posting. You may be correct that i might be prolonging something that is going downhill but i rather spend my efforts to make it work than just cut my losses short. If i missed the effort before, i should make no effort whatsoever? –that seems twice as big as a folly.

All your suggestions are great - that is true that i know her best and im the one to decide what would work best, but i am still interested in knowing what others have done/received to get some clever ideas.
posted by AMP583 at 11:30 AM on January 28, 2008

Sorry AMP583. You're right, your question wasn't about whether you should continue working on the relationship or not and it's not my place to advise you on relationship questions you didn't ask. Good luck on your endeavors!
posted by jasper411 at 12:22 PM on January 28, 2008

The title of this post says it all. Win "something" back? Dude, your heart might not be in it.
posted by sneakin at 12:33 PM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

"Did your mom brush your hair all hard?" as you slide the brush through her hair, or your hands through it.

Ew. What? No.
posted by electroboy at 12:46 PM on January 28, 2008 [4 favorites]

This problem is not a 1 day a year thing, you need to put a visible effort in all the time.

Indeed. Are you dating a calendar or a person who wakes up every day? If it's the latter, you have to be attentive more than just when milestones come up!
posted by secret about box at 12:58 PM on January 28, 2008

I really like 101 Nights of Great Romance.
posted by kristymcj at 1:52 PM on January 28, 2008

You could turn it all around, though, and ask why she didn't do something phenomenal for your anniversary - why didn't she plan anything?

Phenomenally bad idea if you want the relationship to get *better*. Nothing wrong with her initiating things, but blaming the one who feels victimized will get you nowhere, and also leads to a tit-for-tat, score-keeping arrangement. Hardly a healthy relationship model, IMO.
posted by misha at 1:53 PM on January 28, 2008

Oh, and though I agree that wanting everything to be perfect is completely unrealistic, I get the feeling that she felt that the anniversary needed to be special because of past problems the two of you had experienced, rather than expecting every day to be a fairy-tale, because of this line from the question, "THIS combined with some other instances of me being less than romantic has lead her to question a lot about us and me."

It might be best if you simply reschedule your anniversary celebration now that you aren't so overwhelmed with holidays, etc. You should also put any important future dates into a planner or Google calendar, a few days ahead of time, to remind you that an event is coming up.
posted by misha at 1:59 PM on January 28, 2008

The key is spontaneity and pure passion. You love her, right? You want her to be with you? Well darned well show it. Kiss her passionately as you're food shopping. When you get in push her against the door and give her a little more. Nothing is as unromantic as planned romantic scenarios. When you see love films, do you ever see the hero sitting down organising a surprise monkey petting visit or whatever? NO! They somehow end up surprising the fair maiden almost by chance.

Tip: Watch something like Pirates of the Caribbean and pretty much become Jack. That should do the job!
posted by jhighmore at 2:20 PM on January 28, 2008

Ugh, I must say I would personally hate a lot of the suggestions here. Keep it simple. A night at a really really good restaurant. Let her in on it, don't assume surprises are always great. I had a boyfriend adept at what he considered grand romantic gestures and they always went horribly. A lame boring scavenger hunt and dinner at a restaurant where I ended up not being able to eat much because of food allergies.

The best anniversary I had was when a boyfriend and I planned a tasting menu at a restaurant we both agreed we'd like and the best gift from a boyfriend was something I really wanted (a book), rather than something that sounded romantic (one of those annoying heart-shaped boxes of chocolates).

You aren't a mind reader, no matter how well you know her. Getting close to perfection requires collaboration, planning, and not putting the burden/blame on one person.
posted by melissam at 3:03 PM on January 28, 2008

Since I don't know you or your girlfriend, here are some things my fiancé has done that had the "wow, what a guy" factor:

- spontaneous driving to a resort town on a lake for a fancy dinner
- a candlelight dinner at home, replete with after-dinner drinks (and snuggling) by the fireplace
- sweet voicemails and text messages when one of us was away on business. These should be along the lines of "I miss you," not what you want to do to her in the bedroom, unless she's exceptionally receptive to that.
- when I thought he'd forgotten my birthday, he gave me a gift a few days late and apologized profusely for the mundanity of the gift because he'd been low on funds. Then he pulled out the *real* gift.

Honestly though, what is most romantic is the day-to-day things. The most romantic thing my fiancé did this weekend was to clean the garage so I could pull in my car (it's been fucking COLD here). If she's watching TV and you're in the kitchen, do you offer to get her something to drink? If she hasn't had time to fold her laundry, do you do it without asking? Do you give her backrubs that don't lead to sex? Do you tell her what she means to you, and how you couldn't imagine your life without her? Stop for a second and imagine life without her. This should motivate you into doing some of these things.
posted by desjardins at 4:29 PM on January 28, 2008

Good Christ, misha, I completely missed that.

You could turn it all around, though, and ask why she didn't do something phenomenal for your anniversary - why didn't she plan anything?

"Don't get mad at me, honey, you're the asshole here."

Tell her you were planning a huge cruise this upcoming September for your 1 year anniversary.

And then lie to her! This plan is sure to cement the foundations of a healthy relationship.
posted by secret about box at 5:38 PM on January 28, 2008

If I want something, I speak up. My husband is occasionally forgetful about stuff (and he would be the first to admit it!) I would never dream of leaving the poor man to figure out what I want, or to remember our anniversary. If I want to go dinner, I make the reservations and make sure he is ready to go on time. If I want him to get me something, I tell him about it. If my birthday is coming up, he gets lots of notice. My husband is terrific but he does not have ESP. :)

If you want to do something great for your wife, TALK TO HER ABOUT IT. Tell her, "I really dropped the ball and now I want to make it up to you. What would you like?" This will show her you are thinking about it and worried about her feelings, etc.

Maybe don't mention this part until 6 months from now: Having an anniversary just after vacation & New Year's is not great timing... You could have planned to not be hungover or whatever, but if she wanted a perfect anniversary she should have planned more in advance and/or let it be known that this is Very Important and husbands who fail to amuse will be in Big Trouble. It sounds like she didn't do that and so this is not entirely your fault.

The anniversary is not entirely up to one spouse or the other, after all--you married each other, and that means this is now a team effort.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 8:48 PM on January 28, 2008

I wanted to add that my husband and I have Amazon wishlists set up. This makes finding something the other person really wants much easier. Some people think this is cheating. We consider it good communication. If you get her to make an Amazon list (they do have lots more than books there), then you can occasionally surprise her with things you know she wants.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 8:54 PM on January 28, 2008

AMP583: What are some things that make her happy? When is she the happiest? What does she do for you that makes you happy?
posted by geminiannie at 9:03 AM on January 29, 2008

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