I’ve been seeing a lot of this thing called ‘the grand gesture’ in social media. A video where usually a man sneaks up on his love and surprises her with a garish and ostentatious display of singing and dancing and cinematography, normally ending with a proposal of marriage. It’s sweet, and nice to watch, but I have some reservations about this kind of huge sweeping romantic display. 

(I admit from personal experience that sometimes the woman likes this type of thing. However, in my experience it wasn’t really the grand gesture itself that she liked. It was something once removed – the attention, envy, jealousy, accolades, the idea that other people were watching her receive something and they wanted what she had, the image of the gesture is what made her happy. Not the grand gesture itself, or the relationship it represented. I hope that’s a rare thing. I think it is. On with the usual!)

Occasionally I have seen other videos where people are friends and one of them wants to be more, or people are dating and one of them wants to move in, or they live in different parts of the country or the world and one of them wants to be closer. Any sort of increase in exclusivity and closeness could be the spark for one of these videos, one of these productions. Since most of the time it’s about a proposal, from a man to a woman, I’ll approach it here from that perspective.

We see a headline, or a teaser, and we’re curious, so we watch the video. It strikes us as so romantic and sweet, and everyone is happy, and the comments are so positive, and she always seems to say yes. She’s pleased, absolutely chuffed to be on the receiving end of this lavish attention. Right?

Is she really?

I watched many of these for the feels, and for fun and entertainment, but something occurred to me. Who is this for? So I watched many of them again, and this time I focused on just the woman. Wherever possible, I watched the woman’s face and body language, and that alone. Surprisingly, I saw many instances where she didn’t seem pleased at all. She seemed annoyed, pressured, even horrified at times. Not every video, not most of the time, but in most videos at least part of the time, the woman was not happy. So who is this for?

It seems to me that in the worst case, the grand gesture is for show, a melodrama for public consumption. The neon, the rainbows, the glitter, the presentation. The flash pots, the pyrotechnics, the highly-trained well-rehearsed marriage proposal flash mobs. The time, effort, expense, the assistance from family, friends and other accomplices, the production and the ostentatious display. The grand gesture appears to be for everyone else EXCEPT her.

In the best case, it’s for him. It’s his idea of devotion or love, shown publicly and openly, with little regard for what she may want. By its nature, this grand gesture has to be kept secret, so consultation is nearly impossible. The grand gesture is for him at bare minimum, plus whoever he’s coerced into assisting him with this little number. She’s going to love it!  Right?

Will she really?

Either way, for him or for public consumption, it puts pressure on her. It can be uncomfortable, as I’ve seen in many a woman’s eyes while I focused on her. She may feel anxious because of the attention, and afraid of saying no while all the eyes are upon her. She may feel obligated to say something she really doesn’t want to say. Instead of making her happy and elated, it could be making her sad and terrified and annoyed. The more I looked at the women’s faces, the more I wondered ‘did anyone really think this all the way through?”

It seems to me that if you care about a woman, you would want to talk to her and feel her. Find out what her preferences are, what her comfort level is, what her thoughts and feelings are. Know her! Make sure of it. Make sure you’re not doing something that will actually have the exact opposite effect from what you intend. 

In short, find out the things she likes, and…
Do them a lot! Do them deliberately. Do them intentionally. Do them quietly and demurely. Do as many of the things she likes as well and as often as you can. 

Doesn’t that sound like the grandest gesture you could make?