Romance Your Friends

By: Winn Claybaugh

When it comes to the gifts we offer, many of us were taught to give certain gifts to some people and different ones to others. When I mention gifts here, I'm referring to levels of emotions, niceties, sentiments, and passions. For example, to your best friend and confidant, you might offer 80 percent of your gifts of fun and lightheartedness, but perhaps you'll give that person only 10 percent of your passion. To your spouse and lover, you may deny your lightheartedness (marriage is serious business!), but give full access to your passion.

Here's a radical notion: Treat your lover more like a friend, and treat your friends more like a lover. I've been blessed with a circle of friends who are funny, talented, passionate, loyal, caring, and giving. How do I know they're all those things and more? Because we erased the boundaries and did away with the stiff constraints that dictate how we should and should not experience each other. Simply put, we chose to romance each other, even though several of us have spouses or partners of our own.

I love the nuance and awareness of the word romance. It implies a different purpose, motive, and mind-set for my thoughts and actions. In some ways, the notion of romance sets me free and offers more possibilities for expression, honesty, and support. Applying all of that to my platonic friendships has added immeasurable depth to my soul and has skyrocketed my confidence as I take on the world.

Here are some ideas I've gathered from my friends about what we do to cultivate our romance.

Pamper Your Friends When They're Sick

This could be great news in the world of romancing your friends, because a lot of us digress into a childlike state when we're sick. We want to be pampered, taken care of, and shown that someone cares about our well being. When the person knocking on our door with chicken noodle soup and a sappy '80s video happens to be one of our best friends, we're at first surprised, then eventually at ease and ever so grateful.

Write Love Notes

This is one of my favorites. I can honestly say I receive at least one love note a week, from a circle of about ten friends. I also send out at least one love note per week. These love notes say more than just "Thank you for dinner," although dinner would be an occasion that warrants a love note. But why not spice up those nice little notes? Why not include in your thank-you message a mention about something lovely that was shared in conversation in the course of the dinner? Your love note could include reminiscing about an endearing or pivotal experience in your friendship building with that person.

I save many of the love notes I've received from my friends. I constantly carry a couple of them around with me in my planner, and I read them often, until they're replaced with a more recent note.

Play Show and Tell

I'm always gathering "souvenirs" of my daily activities so I can share them with my friends the next time I see them. I show them my latest shoe purchase, an interesting magazine article, a cool e-mail from a long lost friend, a song that made me cry, or even a funny fortune from a fortune cookie. Maybe it's been a week or a month since I've seen that person, and during that period of time I've gone through all sorts of experiences and emotions. By playing "show and tell," I can relive some of those experiences and emotions, and share them with my friend.

Give Gifts

We all love to receive a gift, especially when it's not even our birthday or a holiday. When I fall in love with a new music CD, I buy five extras to give to my romantic friends. I don't wait for a special occasion; the gifts are given randomly—just because. The gifts are sometimes expensive, but oftentimes just little memento items, such as a tiny picture frame with a snapshot of the two of us, or an inexpensive key ring in the shape of their pet dog. Other cool gifts to give to friends could include a photo album filled with pictures of your high school days, a recent vacation you took together, or their birthday party. Some circles of friends continually play practical jokes on each other, which can certainly be fun and friendship building, but romance might require more thoughtful offerings, such as a simple, unexpected gift.

Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!), with foreword by CNN's Larry King! He has worked in the beauty industry since 1983, and is the founder of Paul Mitchell The School, with several locations throughout the U.S. In 2004, the North American Hairdressing Awards (NAHA) recognized Winn's contributions by awarding him the Hall of Leaders Award. He is the National Motivational Expert for Paul Mitchell, and has worked with thousands of businesses, including companies such as Vidal Sassoon, the Irvine Company, Entertainment Tonight, Mattel, For Rent magazine, Structure/Limited Express and others. In its November 1997 "Super Heroes" section, American Salon magazine called Winn a "mover of mountains" and "Mr. Fix-it." Winn has also served as vice president of the AIDS Relief Fund for Beauty Professionals, and continues to pursue many fundraising projects. Visit Winn at

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