With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it’s easy to say what you want and perceive to be romantic, right? But take a moment to think about how that has changed over your years.

Are you getting pickier?
Are your expectations higher?
Are you easier to satisfy?

Thinking about this day and how I am expecting to spend it with The Man, has me reflecting on my younger years. The years that began when I was 17, with a boy we will call A.

A. was essentially my first introduction to the world of relationships and love. He was my high school sweetheart, taking me to homecoming and prom, my senior year. After high school, we stayed together as he had gone to college in Massachusetts and I to Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. It was during our winter break back in 2004 that I thought I found the standard for romantic gestures.

It was a cold December day, probably just before Christmas. He picked me up for a date day out in Manhattan. Our first stop was Rockefeller Plaza to see the Christmas tree. It was there, rushing through the crowd, that he stopped me and told me how much I meant to him. He pulled out a small box. Inside was a thin, silver ring decorated with a fragile heart with little diamond chips in it. He told me he was ready to promise the rest of his life to me if I was willing to promise mine to him.

This was the first demonstration and therefore, my first standard of romantic gestures. Ha! Don’t get me wrong, that’s sweet! But 12 years later, hmmm…

Do you want to know what made me fall in love with The Man? What grand romantic gesture he made that set an impossible standard for any other man to reach?

One Sunday back in 2013, not only did he come to Queens when I cancelled meeting him in Manhattan, but he showed up with a picnic and took me to the park.

That was it.

We live in a day and age where people are constantly making huge gestures: flash mob proposals, surprise dates to Paris, thousand-dollar presents! I didn’t even know that the way to my heart was some take out, a bag of chips, and a sunset at Astoria Park.

Over the years, we’ve exchanged flashy jewelry, had romantic getaways to places like Warwick Wine Country, attended sporting events, and run 5Ks side-by-side. With all of the great memories created and experiences shared, my heart still goes back to that cool day in April nearly three years ago.

As you get older, your standards and expectations of romantic gestures mature. Sometimes it means you grow into wanting jewelry and dates in big venues in Manhattan. In my case, I grew into wanting the simple things in beautiful settings.

So as your day of romance comes and goes, how has your perception of romance changed over your life? Over the course of your relationship?