How to Be Romantic on a College Budget

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In between paychecks, you suddenly get the urge to do something romantic for your significant other. Maybe they haven’t been feeling like themselves, just bombed a test or maybe they’re perfectly fine but you wanna do something special for them anyways. You don’t have to take them to a fancy restaurant that’ll easily cost you $200.

You can learn how to be romantic under $30 and still earn that priceless kiss.

1. Picnic in the park

Find your boo’s favorite place, perhaps the beach or a nearby park, pack up their favorite food and maybe take a little wine to be cute like that. Or just pick up McDonald’s if your relationship is the one to prefer a chicken nugget bouquet. “My girlfriend and I were trying to figure out what to do for the day, and we had just stopped at a McDonald’s drive thru because we were going to the Keys,” University of Miami senior political science major Mark Gomez said. “The Keys plan fell through, so we had McDonald’s in the car, and we were passing the park on South Miami Drive with the volleyball courts near the Monty’s,” Gomez said. “I looked at the food and turned into the park we got down and just ate by the bay. It was awesome and makes you feel like if the whole world stops because it was spontaneous.” The best dates are the ones least expected.

Total price: $10-25

2. Flowers

Everyone loves flowers. They brighten up a room like no other. Now ladies, if you think your man would appreciate being given flowers, get him flowers too. But if your boo can’t keep flowers alive for their life, try getting plastic ones. “Well my girlfriend at the time didn’t know how to take care of flowers, so when I went to Belgium I brought her back plastic tulips,” Florida International University junior physical therapy major Landy Muñoz said. If flowers don’t make bae swoon though, any little bouquet of chocolates or their favorite junk food will work, too.

Total price: $5-$10.

3. Write them a letter

You don’t have to be as extra as Noah and send Allie 365 letters when you’re first learning how to be romantic, but I mean you totally can. We all loved Noah for it, and it was super romantic, but that doesn’t mean we expect that. Hand-written letters are sappy and your partner will have to act hard tp pretend they don’t love it. If you want to be a bit more romantic than just writing one letter, write a letter every day of the week for a week or one for every year they’ve been born for a romantic birthday present. These letters don’t have to be three pages long, back and forth, they could just be half a page. Pour your heart out on the page, and put in a little more effort than the essay you write at 3 a.m. hopped up on free library coffee.

Total price: $0, just your love.

4. Breakfast in bed

If you’re a morning person and your SO would put blackout curtains over the sun if possible, this is the perfect romantic gesture. During the week, a full-blown breakfast in bed might be a stretch because of work or school, but just making them a morning coffee would bring a smile to their face. “Having breakfast in bed made me feel cared for and like I was the first thing he thought about when he woke up,”Florida State University junior psychology major Hannah Oria said. On the weekends though using that crepe maker you got for Christmas, make healthy yogurt parfaits or whip up omelets for the gainz. Use whatever groceries you bought that week to make bae their perfect breakfast in bed. You’ll probably be more welcome in their bed with the promise of food in the morning *wink wink*.

Total price: under $20 for ingredients

5. Homemade dinner

If neither of you can wake up in the morning, learn how to be romantic when the sun sets. After work or school, head to the grocery store and pick up all their favorite dinner things. Make sure you have something special for dessert, like chocolate-covered strawberries or mini cupcakes. “[My boyfriend] has developed a love for cooking, so I know whenever I get home from my late classes there’s going to be something delicious waiting for me,” FIU junior speech therapy and psychology double major Brittani Garcia said. “We even started our own cookbook. It’s a cute way to bond that’s inexpensive and the recipes don’t have to be too complicated.” If you’re not much of a chef, check out some Tasty videos (we all know you drool over them during class). Finally, light some candles and put out your fancy (real, not paper) plates for a romantic dinner at home.

Total price: under $30 for ingredients

6. Leave them a voicemail

Texting and sending Bitmojis are basic af. How to be romantic in the age of impersonal texts can be a challenge until you realize you can still dial bae’s number and call them. Leave them a voicemail and they can save your spoken love note forever.  Voicemails are beyond romantic because you can listen to it whenever you’re sad or questioning if the feelings are still there. If you don’t know how to be romantic in a voicemail since the only ones you’ve received are from CVS telling you your prescription is ready, read a famous love poem over the phone.

Total price: $0

7. Put a note in a random place

Write bae a little note that says “I love you. I miss you. I hope you’re having a great day.” Put it somewhere that you know they’ll see it at some point in the day. Put the note in their bag or in their pants pocket. Secret notes bring a smile to anyone’s face . “In high school, my boyfriend at the time and I would leave little notes in each other’s binders and books, usually just a post-it with a short, cute message,” University of Florida junior theatre and English double major Marissa Secades said. “It was always a really nice surprise,” Secades said. “I remember feeling like I would find a note at the perfect time, like when I was having a really rough day at school or stressed about rehearsals and just needed a cute surprise like that to brighten my day. It also kind of turned into a game of trying to find really unexpected or strange places we could hide these notes.” Make sure to sprinkle in some XOXO’s and little hearts so they know it’s real.

Total price: $0

8. Make them a 365 jar

learn how to be romantic

Christy Pina

With this tip you can learn how to be romantic and how to make the perfect DIY gift for your lover. Pick five different-colored papers and make each color represents something different. One can be “I love…” where you write things that you love about the person or about your relationship. Other ones can be “Song Lyrics That Remind Me of You or Us,” “Memories and Special Moments,” “Quotes About Love” and “Future Goals.” Buy a jar and start writing. Then, your colorful creation can reside within an empty jar on top of Pottery Barn dorm trinkets and textbooks to brighten up their dorm room desk.

Total price: $10-$20 

9. Print Photos

If your anniversary with your boo is coming up and you need to know how to be romantic in gift form, making a scrapbook is the way to go. Collecting all of your favorite pics together in the year(s) that you’ve been together can be really fun if you’re the one making the scrapbook, and your SO will love it. Just don’t include any embarrassing screenshots from Snapchat unless you want a fight. If your crafty abilities don’t extend very far, print your favorite photos in polaroid form and get a pack of little clothes pin so your girlfriend can decorate her room with nostalgia memories of you two.

Total price: $20-30

10. Have a movie marathon

Hollywood knows how to be romantic, so sit down and take notes. Binge a long series like Harry Potter, Star Wars or even Fast and the Furious will keep you snuggled up and cozy. Or you can finally spend the day watching all the movies you keep putting off. Stop talking about it and actually do it. Both of you need to clear your schedules for the entire day and dedicate however many hours it’ll take to watch all the movies.

Total price: $0 if you stream the movies online

How to Be Romantic When Things Get Too Comfortable

Written by Corey Marfitt

The first few months of your new relationship feel perfect. He texts you to meet up as soon as he gets out of class. You listen to the same music and laugh at the same memes. You both glow with happiness. All relationships will fade out of this picture-perfect stage. After the butterflies flutter away, keep up relentless crave to share in each other’s presence. Penn State University junior Ben Calpino said, “Always [make] sure to show affection towards the other person even though you’re past the ‘honeymoon phase.’ Passing that landmark doesn’t mean you don’t treat them like the most important person in the world.” Relearn how to be romantic with these post-honeymoon phase tips.

1. Slip into something sexy

Remind each other what sent sparks flying in the first place. Your S.O. loves you inside and out, but he also loves what’s underneath all of that—literally. Tease him on your movie date with a low-cut shirt. Or surprise him with lacy lingerie under your food-stained sweats. You caught that eye in the first place. Make sure he keeps his eye on the ultimate prize: you.

2. Schedule a couples massage

Take advice from the pros: Point Park University junior Megan Irwin and her boyfriend of three years suggested getting a couple’s massage. “This is a perfect way to unwind and relax from the stresses of life you may be handling, together! How often do you two get to unwind other than Netflix & Chill?” Take some time and money out of your normal routine to pamper yourselves and reconnect.

3. Look nice for each other

You stopped putting on makeup, live in old sweats, wear your hair messy and maybe even put off daily showers. How are you supposed to woo your boo like with sweat stains in your pits? Kick the romance up a notch after the honeymoon phase by presenting yourself like you did in the butterfly phase. Bring your A1 game. Remember your days as a single lady on a GNO practicing your game? Charm him with your adventurous attitude and alluring looks. Meeting up for lunch? Lather on lash-boosting mascara and a dewy rose blush. Library date? Wear that sexy pair of leggings with the mesh inserts that show a little extra. Add some intrigue to your relationship.

4. Spend time apart

Some say distance makes the heart grow fonder. As someone that’s been in a long-distance relationship for several years, I feel distance keeps the romance alive. I can’t stop thinking about my significant other or the next time we’ll meet. Since we spend so much time apart, we always make our time together special. We love to get fancy with each other and go to our favorite restaurants with our best outfits. Sometimes we hang back and cook dinner or bake dessert to spend our time more closely. And when not together, you actually miss them. Seeing each other on a day-to-day basis becomes routine, you slowly overlook time shared. After the honeymoon phase, you can easily forget how much you once desired one another. Spending time apart allows for a meaningful reminder of your feelings toward your significant other and how much you really love your time together.


Spice up your text messages. When apart from our significant others, we always keep our phones on hand to make the distance manageable. Let the love birds fly with intriguing text messages and pictures. Start a flirty convo in the middle of the day using heart-eye emojis. Send a cute snap before you head to the gym. Shoot a text telling him to come over tonight because you have a sexy surprise. And those sexy texts will also make your long-distance lover want to book a flight ASAP. Send your significant other sexy texts/pics or tell them what you want to do when you reunite. Their emotions will bounce all over the room when they see that surprise message in the middle of an economics lecture.

6. Go on a road trip

Plan a trip outside of your college town and campus. Penn State couples can drive an hour and a half to Hershey Park to delve into chocolate world and try adrenaline-rush rides. Or drive a couple hours north to sightsee at Niagara Falls. Or stay local and hike the trails of the Alleghany mountains. Florida State University couples can take a romantic four-hour drive to Magic Kingdom and steal a kiss in Cinderella’s Castle. Or they can head two hours north to explore Providence Canyon, also known as the mini Grand Canyon. No matter where you go to school, romance awaits you past campus grounds.

7. Get drunk together

You don’t need your seven closest friends to let loose and get drunk. Ditch the posse and down a few beers with bae. Take a night out together, whether you decide to stay in with a bottle of wine or go to the bar. A few drinks will amp up your flirty confidence. Dance together, dare to be touchier, voice your seductive subconscious or even show PDA. Penn State hospitality major Nicole Ortega suggested celebrating your monthiversaries. “Every month celebrate each landmark to reminisce on how far your relationship has come.”

8. Actually go on a date

Susquehanna University senior Charlie Riley said, “How do we stay romantic? We go on dates! We make sure that we have our date nights every now and then because they are important.” Pick a night of the week, any night and plan a dinner to that new restaurant in town everyone posts on their Insta story. Get dressed up in your new LBD, matching bra and undie set and best perfume. Wait for a knock on the door at your apartment or dorm room like when you first started talking. Romantically talk the night away with good food and better company. After dinner catch a rom-com movie or share a milkshake. And then end up back home after your much-needed evening for a second helping of dessert.

9. Social media shout outs

Social media shouldn’t define your relationship. But an unexpected shout out on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter will make their day. Post a picture on your story saying how much you love or miss them. Or dig up an old memory, like your first picture together at the homecoming football game or that all-nighter at the library that got super silly. Bring back the feels and make you S.O. smile. Publicly showing affection over social media will reinforce the love and remind them that they are important beyond closed doors.

10. Play ice-breaker games

Put your S.O. in the hot seat with get-to-know-you games. Play two truths and a lie, find 10 things in common, who is most likely to or odds are. University of Southern California senior Shelby Webb said, “Talk about random stuff, learn as much as you can about each other. Look up questions online; find out every detail, whether it be little stories about their childhood, funny stuff, Truth or Dare, or even random questions like, ‘What is your fav dessert? What is your perfect date? Do you believe in ghosts?’”

**Updated on May 21, 2018 to include “How to Be Romantic When Things Get Too Comfortable” by Corey Marfitt

Writing is life. Life is writing. I’m a junior at the University of Florida for now, but in the future catch me writing all your fave celebrity and entertainment news. Or traveling. Hopefully residing in Manhattan.

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