I’m romantic at heart. I love flowers and chocolates, strolling by the river in the moonlight hand in hand with my dream date on a warm Summer evening. Wait. I have never actually had a date like that.

Here’s how my inflated dreams of romance and perfect dating go when I try to make them a reality. The more convoluted my plans, the more disastrous the outcome. Juggling flowers and chocolates is never easy, especially when I really want to be holding the hand of that dream date. Sticky hands and crushed blossoms are not the enduring memories I want to store up for tales of our romance.

Walks by the river in the moonlight? Forget it. Unless my date likes eau de bug spray, the mosquito infested river is out. Not to mention the time I got carried away with happiness and danced a romantic twirl after a first kiss…right off the crumbling bank of the stream we were walking alongside. Squelching back to the car in ruined shoes was not the lasting impression I wanted to leave. Yet, something odd happened in the midst of disaster.

Romance was found in the gentle touch of my date helping me out of the stream, and in the dry boat shoes (three sizes too big) that my date loaned to me that evening. We laughed (what else can you do when you look such a wreck?!). Love was found on subsequent excursions when dating plans were kept simple and focused on getting to know each other rather than the grand gestures of what we think romance should be.

Remember dating is supposed to be fun, work at taking the pressure out of it by remembering to be yourself and enjoy the company of the person you are with. A flower can be more romantic than a big bouquet, a short stroll in the park can be more fun than a major hiking excursion, a picnic can bring you closer to your date than a fancy restaurant where no one knows which fork is which or what the dishes actually are.

There’s a lot to be said for the acronym of keep it simple stupid…KISS for short (not by accident me thinks). Things can and will go wrong on dates. That is, after all, where the funny stories we will tell about how we met come from. But we don’t have to invite trouble by trying too hard. Relax and enjoy yourself – that’s where the true romance lies!