As I think about my first date I travel back to my teenage years, welcoming an abundance of feelings and thoughts. I exited my bedroom that was left in a disarray because of how many outfits I tried on. I was nauseous thinking about the moment my parents were going to embarrass me by asking my date 21 questions before I left the house. I remember checking my bag to make sure I had Chapstick with hopes that I would receive my first kiss that night.

I share this with you because those feelings I experienced were telling me I was excited. I was thrilled at the opportunity to connect with another human being in a way I had not before. The point is that those feelings do not have to go away after the first date! I truly believe that we continue to evolve and grow based on our experiences, there is always something to learn from one another. So, whether you are going on your first date or taking your partner out for your 30th anniversary, the value of a date night does not go away.

Why are Dates Important?

Date nights provide an opportunity to prioritize quality time, limiting the distractions that everyday life brings. They allow us to set aside the time to communicate in a less stressful environment, and continue to increasing our connection to one another. Most importantly, date nights are all about what you and your partner enjoy and want to spend time experiencing with one another.

Getting Creative

When I started working at Emma Schmidt’s & Associates, I welcomed the idea of learning new techniques and interventions to bring into sessions. Of course, no one other than Emma Schmidt herself taught me an intervention that is related to creating and building intimacy in relationships. The famous jar exercise! This is a great exercise that you and your partner can do together that will lead to all the “date nights.”

This is how it works. You’ll need two jars or more depending on the type of relationship you are in (if not jars- use whatever works best for you). Create a list of experiences you would like to have that you haven’t yet, or experiences that you know you really enjoy and want to continue to do so. After you create your list, cut the list apart and place each idea into your jar. Now, you have a jar that is filled with opportunity for date night ideas! You can pick from the jar whenever you choose, one partner will pick from the other partner (or partners) jar and plan the activity. You then take turns on planning activities and time spent together.

Staying In

I know that some of the stress that may come along with planning date nights could be related to financial reasons, which is totally understandable! It also maybe you just really do not feel like sitting in a restaurant around others, also totally valid. So here are some ideas for stay-at-home date nights!

Pick a movie to watch together and set the scene in whatever room that feels comfortable for you, grab some snacks, drinks, and have an in-home movie date.

Build a fire in your back yard and sit beside one another. You can talk about your day, check in with one another, or simply sit in silence together.

Think of what your favorite activity was when you were a child to engage in at home, introduce it to your partner and relive the experience together. One that comes to mind for me was having a campout inside. Grab all of the blankets and turn your living room into a tent, tell scary stories and embrace the creativity that your previous experiences can bring into your relationship.

Out on the Town

Communicate with your partner(s) about what you enjoy about the environment you live in. This could be something you know you enjoy or something you have yet to experience. If you enjoy hiking or walking, share what your favorite trail is and tackle it together. If there is something you have always wanted to do in your hometown and have yet to have the opportunity to do so, plan and make it happen! Head to your favorite restaurant or explore some that you have never gone to before (the application Yelp is really good for this)!

Prioritizing Quality Time

A date night does not have to mean candles lit and a fancy dinner (it certainly can be that though). The point is, prioritizing time to spend with your partner(s) is what matters. Date night is going to look and feel different for everyone, it’s what you and your partner(s) make it. I encourage you to have fun with this. Allow yourself the opportunity to spend time with one another, uninterrupted and giving yourself the space to be mindful in your relationship(s).