Date Your Mate!

Why date night rejuvenates long term relationships – if you do it right.

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If you want an exceptional love relationship – even though you’ve been together for years or
decades? You’ve got to learn to date your mate again.

Oxford dictionary defines a date as a social or romantic appointment or engagement. And
when you were first dating your partner, you did a great job. Remember? You used to plan
ahead, come up with enticing settings and fun events, set the scene and ensure the object
of your affection felt very, very special.

But how are you doing at making your mate feel adored these days? 

I’ve worked with hundreds of couples as a psychologist and sex therapist, and thousands
more through my online couples program Become Passion and the biggest complaint long-
term couples have is a lack of fun, romance, and a distinct absence of those juicy falling-in-
love feelings. I call this stage of relationship Marriage Inc. You know how it goes – the two of
you are busy with kids, careers, refinancing the mortgage and dropping the dog off at the
groomers. You like each other well enough but you are running your relationship like a
business. And in the midst of it all, you’ve lost each other. You are parents, not lovers, and
joint CEO’s of a thriving family but a dying love affair.

Date Your Mate!

So what can you do to recreate some of the joy and passion you felt when you were falling
in love? Well, it may surprise you to learn that one of the most powerful ways to revive your
relationship is indeed, date night.

One of the things I teach the couples in my program is to bring more mindfulness and
creativity to their date planning – whether it’s your first date or the 51st. A mindful date
should give you insight into your sweetheart’s personality & character. A creative date can
teach you about yourself and where your relationship is currently strong and where it needs
some work. A sexy or adventurous date can actually increase your attraction to your
partner. And oh yes, dates outta be fun. Lots of fun.

Top 8 great date ideas

1. The Wake Up Together Date

Go for breakfast or brunch. Why? Breakfast dates are great because you get to start the day together in a novel way – and novelty is a key ingredient for happy long term love. When we fall into those day-to-day, Marriage Inc.routines I grab toast while you load the kids in the car –  we forget to look at our sweetheart with new eyes. So once a month, eat out, savor something delicious, and talk about your hopes and dreams. Full disclosure? I might be biased toward the epic breakfast date. I am writing this on the 9th anniversary of my first date with my now hubby. I was ambivalent about the blind date, so I kinda tested him by offering my only free time slot. He stepped up, chose the cafe, and our pre-sunrise breakfast date lasted for four hours.

2. The Adventure Date

Do something that is new, interesting, or gets your adrenaline pumping. Tackle a high ropes course, go on a food tour, or hit the go-cart track. Why? Research shows that we find others more attractive (and vice versa) when we are stimulated by new or exciting experiences. One study showed that (heterosexual) men who walked over a scary suspension bridge were far more likely to ask an attractive woman for her number than those who were still in the parking lot. So not only will you have fun, you can see your beloved in a new light. A very flattering light at that.

3. The Side-by-Side Date 

This one is great if you have some big topics to discuss but you get a bit tongue tied on a face-to-face sit down with your partner. date. After all, staring at each other across a table while discussing whether to retire can be intimidating. Instead of a sit down date, go for a walk or hike. Pick somewhere beautiful – whether that is a mountain trail or an urban stroll through an artsy neighborhood. It’s much easier to talk side by side, particularly when you have an ever changing landscape to comment on. You might find you open up and speak more deeply in this supportive set up. Bonus points? Bring your dog – or borrow one from a friend! Nothing breaks the ice and opens our hearts and minds like a happy hound.

4. The “Can We Cooperate” Date

Take a ride on a tandem bike or better yet, paddle a two-person kayak. This one is both heaps of fun and a great test of your ability to work together. Why?  Simply because if you want to get anywhere, you have to listen and be willing to let go of being right. Laughter helps too. I’ve seen plenty of long-married couples whisper fighting in a kayak. In fact, my hubby and I were guilty of that – turns out we needed to communicate more clearly and have a sense of humor if we wanted to end up at our destination. Huh. Sounds a lot like marriage.

5. The Curiosity Date

For this one, first choose an interesting setting – maybe sit at the bar at a classy cocktail bar and watch the maestro mixologists at work or pack an evening picnic and hit the beach. (A darker room or environment can help with the next part.) Next, I want you to Ask Interesting Questions. The couple in my program love this exercise. Make up your own questions or try some of these:

  • Tell me about a happy couple we know – what aspects of their relationship do you admire?
  • If you could have ten minutes with your 21 year old self, what advice would you give?
  • Who was your first kiss with? Was it good? What happened next?
  • What do you think are your best qualities as a romantic partner and what are your most difficult qualities?
  • If you won a prize that gave us two weeks at a luxury vacation spot anywhere in the world, what would you choose?
  • What is one sexy thing you’d like us to try?

Be open, you’ve got nothing to lose. And if you are in a dark place, they can’t even see you blush.

6. The Friendly Competition Date

This is one of my favorites. After all, you can tell a lot about how the two of you are doing as a couple when you are facing winning or losing and your egos are on the line.  Whether you choose something intense like ax-throwing or paintball, or something more sedate like bowling, backgammon or bingo, you’ll quickly find out if your separate tendencies to be a  poor loser, a gracious winner, a fiercely competitive adversary, or a hilarious klutz who can laugh at themself have changed over the years. 

7. The Uninhibited Date

I love a date that invites the two of you to let go, whether that involves moving your body, yelling at the top of your lungs, or laughing until you cry – anything that helps you loosen your inhibitions and toss away your set in stone date pattern of a dinner and a movie. Go see some live music or visit a salsa club and take a free lesson before hitting that sexy dance floor. Go to a sports event and cheer your head off or hit a comedy club or improv competition. Bonus points for dressing a little crazy (I’m thinking
team jerseys and face paint) or sexy (rock and roll chic anyone?)when is the last time the two of you  let go a little?

8. The “Sexy Truth or Dare” Date

This one is not for the faint of heart. If you want to get a little frisky you can play a game of sexy truth or dare. For example – Truth – “What is the most public place you’ve ever made love?” Dare – “I dare you to touch my arm with as much sensual passion as you can”. You can pick up a commercial card deck or game that will provide the truths and dares if you don’t feel very creative. And you might want to set this
date in the bedroom.

As I often tell couples, great relationships are not an accident. Like anything else, it takes love and effort to keep your love, interest, and passion alive. Date night rejuvenates long term relationships. So this week, treat your partner like the interesting, attractive, wonderful person they are. How would you date them if you were trying to win their heart? I challenge you to win their heart all over again, one date at a time.

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Sharp, frank and fearless, that’s Buddhist sex therapist, psychologist, author, and speaker Dr. Cheryl Fraser. With a rare combination of academic credibility, humor, straight talk, and life-changing advice, she has helped thousands of couples jumpstart their love life and create passion that lasts a lifetime.  She has taught for Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield, appeared on television and podcasts, and writes about love and sex for magazines. Dr. Cheryl’s online immersion program for couples Become Passion brings her work to your own living room. Learn more and get on the waitlist. Listen to her podcast Sex, Love & Elephants here. Her book Buddha’s Bedroom: The Mindful Loving Path to Sexual Passion and Lifelong Intimacy is available now. For more information or to sign up for weekly LoveBytes, visit her website and check out her videos on YouTube.

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