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Picking Her Brain: Women Reveal Their Valentine Wish Lists

Listen fellas, your lady appreciates that you remembered Valentine’s Day, but that heart-shaped box of chocolates with Tweety Bird on the lid isn’t going to win you a seat in her heart, or even standing room for that matter. After scouring feminine hot spots in the Falls Church area, like Tysons Corner Center, it was clear what women of all ages wanted this Feb. 14 — something with a little thought put into it.

I know what men out there are thinking: “Just like a woman not to get straight to the point. What does that even mean?” For married men, it means that more than flashy gifts that reek of a hefty receipt hiding in your sock drawer, all your wife really wants is some alone time. Married women with young children gave the same answer again and again — “Time with my husband.”

Don't: Show up empty-handed. No gift, no plans, no effort = no ... well ... Let's just say you're in the dog house.  "If the guy I was dating didn't do anything for Valentine's Day, I'd find another guy to spend my day with. Either that, or go out with my girlfriends and leave him home alone," says Helen Hilios of Woodbridge.“We both lead very busy lives and have three kids, so I’m not really gift-oriented when it comes to Valentine’s Day,” says Grace Yu of Reston, clutching her infant daughter. “But I did tell him [laughs] that he could get me a box of chocolates this year. I was craving some yesterday and couldn’t find any in the house.”

Yu isn’t the only one wishing for the time money can’t buy. Other women gave confused looks when asked to describe their best Valentine’s gift.

“I can’t remember any of the gifts honestly,” says Shelly of Potomac Falls, who wishes to go by just her first name. “I know candy companies want men to buy into their marketing ploy, but it’s really just a ‘Hallmark holiday.'”

Don’t think that means women want to forgo celebrating the occasion altogether. They just want to see some effort. Making dinner reservations are a phone call away, but you can score even bigger points by trading in that ball cap for a chef’s hat. [Editor's Note: See some handy recipes on page 24.]

“Going out to dinner isn’t necessary, but for my husband to make dinner for me would be nice. The effort put into making someone a meal is something really special,” says Martha of Gainesville, who’s been married to her husband for 20 years after both were widowed. The two recently took a trip to Antarctica to celebrate an early Valentine’s Day.

Okay, so maybe you can’t afford to witness the actual “March of the Penguins,” but any man can afford flowers, and most women still crave a little modern day chivalry.

“It’s the one day where I want to see traditional gestures. You can’t go wrong with flowers,” says Kathleen Smith of Fairfax.

Think before snagging a cheap bouquet from the local grocery store though guys. We’ve all seen you, picking through the designated bucket of discounted roses the night before in search of the ones with the fewest wilted petals. Take the plunge and splurge on something a little exotic.

“I think all women probably want flowers, but definitely something a little more thoughtful and not just a dozen of stereotypical red roses,” says Jordan Fusselman of Alexandria.

Do: Put some extra thought into what you do for her. Personalize your present and/or plans. Last year my boyfriend made me dinner. I think that's actually more thoughtful than taking a girl out somewhere to eat," says Jordan Fusselman of Alexandria.Do your homework and note her favorite color. Hunt down those purple daisies that remind her of her childhood and you can really score some points.

When it comes to more serious gifts, however, think about just how heavy the relationship is before you inadvertently send her running for the hills.

“If a guy bought me lingerie, I’d be okay with it, but only if we had been dating for a pretty long time,” says Fusselman.

The same rule applies to jewelry. Both young — Fusselman — and full of wisdom — Martha — agree jewelry’s better suited for long-term relationships.

“It’s only acceptable for a gentleman to purchase jewelry when he’s seriously dating, engaged or married to a woman that he truly loves,” says Martha.

The effort behind a man’s actions this Valentine’s Day will speak volumes more than any greeting card. They’ll express not only how he see his wife, fiancé or girlfriend, but also the seriousness of the relationship.

“Women want to be sure the person they’re with is the person they should be with and Valentine’s Day is a good day for a guy to prove it,” says Helen Hilios of Woodbridge. “I want to see something out of the ordinary, something special.”

So on Feb. 14, turn of the ESPN and turn on the ESP. Search her mind for what she really wants … even if it does turn out to be the Tweety Bird chocolates we warned you away from in the first place.