Date Night Doldrums
Date Night Doldrums
Dear Tacit,
How can my partner and I spice up our date nights?
Signed: Date Night Doldrums
Dear Date Night Doldrums,
Many couples feel pressure when they start thinking about date nights.  They imagine there is a need to have a “wow” factor, in order for the evening to be a success (which is true – but let me explain).  And they often think this means the evening has to include costly activities, or high-end meals in fancy restaurants (which is absolutely not true – trust me on this).  The planning for date night can become so stressful and exhausting that the actual occurrence ends up being a rare and infrequent thing. And this can damage even the healthiest of relationships.
The point of date night is to rekindle the intimate connection between two significant partners.  It builds the emotional bank account between you both, which acts as a buffer when challenges arise.  The focus during the evening is meant to be on each partner and their relationship together – not on the kids, or the house, or on financial matters, or on work.  Date nights are essential to the ongoing growth and spark that is needed to keep any partnership healthy.  It is the foundation that ensures things don’t get too routine or boring.  And it prevents couples from drifting apart (which is often not even noticed until it has already happened).
Knowing how to create that “wow” factor is the key to a successful date night. It does not matter where you are or what you are doing – as long as you are doing it together, and as long as the evening results in a closer connection between you both.  Date nights can happen at home, or out in the back yard, or at a park, or at a special event.  It can include food or fun or a beverage of some kind – but it doesn’t have to.  Date nights can be over Zoom, by phone or in-person – they can happen at any time of the day.  They can last for 20 minutes or be a 12 hour event.  And while there is usually some form of physical intimacy (hand holding, a kiss, a cuddle, or something more) involved on date night, this can be as little or as much as you both feel is appropriate or have the energy to share.
There are a few key elements that make date nights successful.  The Gottman Institute (renown for its research on long lasting, healthy relationships) describes 4 main ingredients that I believe give date nights the critical “wow” factor that I mentioned.  These 4 aspects build emotional intimacy and connection, and are guaranteed to have you and your partner feeling closer than ever, by the end of the time you spend together:
Communication – spend the time talking to one another, about one another.  You may think you already know all there is to know about your partner – but you would be very wrong.  Dig deeper and learn more about every part of who they are.  Tell stories about childhood memories and experiences; discuss current beliefs and understandings about the good and the bad in the world; and share the dreams about the future and the aspirations you both have.
Trust – make sure your partner feels that they are a special priority for you on date night.  Put your phone away – focus on one another – keep your undivided attention on your relationship.  This is not the time to talk about the kids or what happened at work.  This is the time to focus on each other, like you did on your first date together.
Intimacy – share with one another about your physical and sexual connection.  Talk about what you enjoy the most, or explore fantasy possibilities for the future.  Have some fun being detailed – your partner wants (and needs) to hear about your turn-ons.  And it can be a giant boost for their confidence as well.  If you are shy, write down your thoughts instead and have your partner read them during the date.
Fun/Playfulness – try new things together during date night.  Do things neither of you has done before.  Or take turns participating in each other’s favourite activities.  Put your heart into it, even if you don’t think you will like the activity itself.  It’s more about the time spent together and the laughs you will enjoy with one another – it’s not about the forum.  Be silly and goofy – let yourself make mistakes – compete as a team together in whatever you are doing.  Maybe create a date night jar – both partners can write down date night ideas on little slips of paper, with the agreement that the activity that is drawn is the one that gets done next.  Take an art class or cooking class together, try an escape or rage room, have a picnic in the living room or in a park, go bowling or mini-golfing, share a video or board game night, go swimming and enjoy the hot tub and steam room afterward – there is no end to the possibilities.
Take care!

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