For some, it’s a bunch of roses (never carnations); for others, a weekend break in a mountain cabin.
For others still, romance comes in the form of a cold beer on the couch and “Die Hard” on the TV. He kisses her in the end …
So to some extent romance is a subjective concept.
But there are some people for whom it’s not just an act saved up for special occasions, it’s a way of life, a never-ending journey, and they are forever trying to buy a ticket to your heart.
And when you are on the road, those foreign fellow travelers or locals always seem to have something that the girls or blokes back home are missing.
So here they are — the world’s most romantic people.
If you didn’t make the list, consider it a let-off. Because the pressure’s now on these guys to be the most charming flirts in the world.
Look past the often harsh-sounding language and the fact he picked you up on his dad’s scooter and you’ll find a nation as romantic as any.
Here, however, the meaning of amour is skewed depending on your gender. While the guys lay the syrup on thick in the form of love poems, drippy texts and gifts of giant teddy bears, a good proportion of them have as many love interests as they have SIM cards to keep them compartmentalized.
Seduction secret: A timely motorbike upgrade.
When slushy novel publisher Mills & Boon ran a poll to find the world’s most romantic nationalities in 2009, the inclusion of the Irish in the top three came as a surprise to some -– not least to the Irish themselves.
Self-deprecation and not self-aggrandizement is generally the way they do things in the Emerald Isle. But it’s exactly that “Oh I didn’t mean to charm you, but I guess I did” smile that wins them a spot here.
Seduction secret: Memorize some stanzas from the work of Oscar Wilde or Pàdraic Pearse.
The Swedes’ egalitarian approach to romancing offers hope to folk without sultry Latin looks or silver-tongued repartee.
Famed for his well-scrubbed appearance, the secret weapon of the Swedish male is not his golden mane or perfect teeth but his willingness to do his thing with a duster. A recent study of 12 countries by Oxford University economist Almudena Sevilla-Sanz found that Swedish males’ enlightened attitudes toward gender roles make them the best potential husbands in the developed world.
Seduction secret: Scrubbing, vacuuming and cooking.
Look past the Crocs, morbid obesity and Lycra-clad wrestlers and you’ll find that the United States practically invented the modern lovelorn teenager.
American innovations such as drive-in cinemas, mass production of the automobile and the nurturing of musical genres from jazz to house added frisson to courtship rituals that had till then been the domain of only those who could recite Shakespeare or dance ballroom.
At its heart, the American dream is fueled by an aching tenderness.
Seduction secret: Every mall in the country has shops dedicated to candles, chocolates and lingerie.
They are different from the rest of the Arab world and they know it. Blessed with olive skin, soulful dark eyes and smoldering looks (not to mention a penchant by some for surgical enhancement), the Lebanese make full use of their physical attributes.
Combine this with Beirut, the region’s most liberal capital with a ton of slick nightspots, and you have the ingredients for a host of sexy, but classy, encounters.
Just wear something bright — there’s a fair chance he’ll be wearing expensive shades.
Seduction secret: Liberal application of hair gel and a designer shirt.
Take a measure of caipirinha-fueled debauchery and balance it with a shot of saudade –- a word that roughly translates into English as a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing -– and you are on the way to understanding Brazil’s romantic appeal.
The Brazilians are not shy about sex; witness the ass shaking that goes on at carnival (and much of the rest of the time) and the many themed love motels catering to lusty couples.
But, as anyone who has watched the nation’s football team, caught a samba band or watched the stars above Corcovado in Rio knows, there’s as much emphasis on sensuality as there is on straight-up rumpo.
Seduction secret: Some serious samba moves.
It’s a predictable cliché but just like American brashness and Australian beer worship, the French fluency in “la langue de l’amour” is not just a myth.
The combination of a seductive capital city, a history drenched in heroism and a laissez-faire vocal brogue makes resisting a Frenchman’s pass even less likely than the chance he won’t try it on.
Throw in their appreciation for life’s fine things and you can occasionally even find yourself declaring their physical shortcomings (see Serge Gainsbourg, Gérard Depardieu) and fiery temper as “endearing.”
Seduction secret: Keeping a good stock of fine Bordeaux wine.
When Madonna famously sported a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Italians Do It Better” she wasn’t referring to pasta sauce.
The word “romance” originally meant from or about Rome, which means that, by default, just about anything Italian is considered romantic.
Notwithstanding Tuscan blood cake and prices in Milan — two obvious turn-offs — you’d be hard-pressed to resist the evocative landscapes, the rich history and the vowelgasmic accent.
Seduction secret: Freshly baked focaccia and a bottle of Chianti in the Tuscan countryside. Bunga Bunga optional.
With a lineage heavily drawn from both Italy and Spain, it’s no wonder many Argentines consider themselves superior to both when it comes to wooing the opposite sex.
More than any other Latin American nation, the country has traditionally looked to Europe for cultural inspiration; the fire and passion, not to mention the propensity for dramatics, associated with its two main foreign influences are very much evident.
The perfect expression of Argentine romanticism can be found in the tango -– arguably the world’s most sensuous dance -– but is detectable in everything from the heady red wines to the sublime football skills of stars such as Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.
Seduction secret: Tango shows at Café Tortoni in Buenos Aires, one of the world’s most beautiful music venues.
Europe’s most convincing Casanovas, the Spanish, are often overlooked in favor of the French and the Italians. They shouldn’t be.
Sure, the ongoing popularity of the mullet hairstyle and its hideous near cousin, the rat-tail, counts against the Iberians, but they are more than willing to showcase plenty of charm-positive attributes to offset these follicular sins.
Consider its rambunctious eating and drinking scene — perhaps the liveliest and most social on the planet — ponder its flamenco; dwell upon the three-hour lunch breaks and ear-melting linguistics, and you have a people that appear to focus every task in life with bringing man and woman together.
Seduction secret: The ability to drink long into the night and still make sense.