In the early days of a relationship, you go on these things called "dates." You don’t live together. You don’t share finances. So dates are the only time you see each other.
Then you get married, add a kid or three to the picture and, all of a sudden, you start to have the opposite experience. You're now together. All. The. Time.
You eat together. You sleep together. You spend hours and hours planning the logistics of life together.
So now you need to bring dates back into the picture, but for the opposite reason as before. Now, the problem isn’t that you rarely see each other. The problem is that you're close but not connected.
Enter date night. Sure, it sounds cliché, perhaps even a bit contrived. But, for most couples, date night is the only time left in modern relationships reserved exclusively for building intimacy and connection.
So how can you make the most of date night?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could spontaneously play hooky from work and spend an entire day together? For most couples, the answer is "Yes...and this is about as realistic as doing our next date night on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space plane." Put differently, it’s never going to happen.
That’s why it’s worth applying your ninja-like logistical skills to planning date night. Put it on the calendar. Set up a recurring invite. Carve out a weekend or two each year. Do whatever you have to do to block out this time from the thousand or so other commitments of modern life.
Date night begins long before it actually starts. It begins with the sense of excitement and anticipation that grows in the days prior to your time together. You can amplify the sense of anticipation in all sorts of ways.
Send your partner a racy text. Plan something new and exciting for your time together. Buy a new outfit. Or whisper something naughty in your partner's ear.
We've found it almost impossible to instantly shift from the busy state of ordinary life into the connected state of date night. We've found that we need a transition between these two energetic opposites.
Our favorite transition is walking or any other form of exercise. Even just a short, 30-minute, walk to dinner allows all those lingering thoughts, worries, and logistics from the day to fall away. It creates the headspace you need to begin connecting with each other.
There’s nothing better than a little novelty to spice up your night (or day) together. Novelty builds excitement. It even arouses the pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter of dopamine in the brain. It also keeps you from falling into the rut of habit, of going to that same restaurant or doing that same date night over and over.
So see what happens when you do something new. Bike to the restaurant instead of driving. Do a picnic outside. Go for a date hike. Try out that new restaurant. Get tickets to an experimental modern dance show or the local rodeo.
We touched on this in last week's newsletter as well. It's our final, and perhaps most important, tip.
The reason is that, if your conversation falls flat or veers into the terrain of ordinary life logistics, none of the other tips matter. You could plan out your date nights perfectly, build anticipation, get grounded, and do something new but still not feel close and connected to your partner.
To avoid this trap, we recommend asking new and different questions. Instead of asking your partner, “How was your day?" try asking, “How are you really doing?" Instead of asking them, "How's work?" ask, "What do you hope your work will look like in five years?" Instead of asking, "How's it going?" ask: “What are some tiny ways that I make you feel like the most special person in the world?" In short, see what shifts when you ask bigger, deeper, and different questions.
If you're interested in learning about more new date night ideas and questions to ask, be sure to download our free guide to Epic Date Night.