Note: This is the first of a two-part series.

Dear Neil: Some time ago you wrote a very impressive article entitled “Secrets Every Man Should Know.” I still have a copy in my possession. In it was advice you offered men about how to be effective in their relationships with women—essentially how to make love to a woman in the broadest definition of that word. I am sure every woman would love to have the equivalent advice about how to be the best spouse, lover, friend and companion with a man. Would you please write a column titled “Secrets that every woman should know?”

Wanting Advice in Wellington, New Zealand

Dear New Zealand: How about two columns on this subject? This one will address romance and closeness, and next week I will offer suggestions regarding men and sex.

First, many women adopt a passive attitude toward romance; they tend to think of courtship, romance and seduction as something a man does to them. It’s a man’s job to woo you, make you feel valued, special and beautiful, bring you flowers, open doors for you, compliment you, wine and dine you and seduce you. So my first recommendation is to make romance more reciprocal. Reciprocal romance means that you would also woo him, court him, make him feel special, attractive and wanted, and act as his seductress and not just the seduced.

Second, touch is the best aphrodisiac. It helps us get close, feel close and stay close. If you’re not touching each other a lot, your relationship is unlikely to feel hot or passionate, and both of you will notice that the closeness and connection you once had has waned. Express your love physically every day through touch, hugs, kisses, cuddling or holding hands.

Third, the heart of me feeling valued by you is whether you are responsive to what I say matters the most to me. Therefore, if I say something is important to me, make it important to you also.

Forth, create time to be alone together every week, and treat that time as sacred. Make your relationship a top priority in your life.

Fifth, When you talk with him, look into his eyes.

Sixth, there’s an art to giving appreciation. Learn that art. Imagine the impact it would have had on you if you grew up in a household where your father thanked your mother for cooking dinner every night, or if your mother thanked your father for going to work every day. Try this: go out of your way to thank your partner for what he does for you and for all he has contributed to your life. Spell out what that contribution has been—both the big and the little things—and do this at least once a week from now on.

Seventh, keep up with your manners. Don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you” to him every day.

Eighth, always be a “student” wife/girlfriend. Consistently be willing to learn and take feedback about how you could be better as a friend, a companion and a lover.

Ninth, tell him what you like and love about him. What character traits does he have that you respect or admire? Is he reliable? Trustworthy? A good father? Is he considerate? Affectionate? Is he a good friend to you? Is he fun? Romantic? Good-looking? A great dresser? These are the reasons you chose him. Don’t keep it a secret. Tell him—or write it in a love letter and give it to him.

Tenth, make sure you express your affection verbally every day.

Eleventh, Ask more questions of him and listen to him more. Make sure you’re not verbally overwhelming or dominating the relationship.

Twelfth, Be fun. Find one or two fun things to do every week that you initiate and make happen.

In order for romance to stay alive, you have to keep it alive. Quit looking at how you could have a better partner, and start looking at how you can be a better partner.

Has your relationship turned cold and distant? Neil’s book Love, Sex, and Staying Warm can help you rekindle your passion.

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