Date Night: Make It A Priority

Written by Michele Dial, M.Ed, LPC 

According to John Gottman, PhD, researcher and couples therapist extraordinaire, date night is an essential pillar in healthy relationships. It may be easy to write this practice off as frivolous and unnecessary, but it’s neither. Date Night is about quality time spent connecting to one another through relaxation, play, and focused attention. Think about it – how did you bond in the beginning of your relationship? How do you bond with friends? How do you bond with your children? It’s not the tasks and to-do lists that create a sense of warmth and connection; it’s the fun, the laughter, the adventures, the memories of good times that endear us to the people we love. Spending enjoyable time together establishes a firm foundation of closeness that allows us to weather the inevitable storms of life.


Taking the conversation a step further, research shows that the way we spend time together matters as much or more than the amount of time we spend together. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, certain activities are more likely than others to produce oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone” which is released during romantic bonding. Interactive activities such as painting stimulated the release of oxytocin for participants, and researchers speculated that words of encouragement and physical touch during these activities may have contributed to the surge of the “cuddle hormone.”


Date Night serves one crucial purpose in our relationship – to draw us closer to our partner and fortify the bond we share. With this goal in mind, a few guidelines can help you achieve a successful Date Night.


1.    Schedule a regular Date Night and put it on the calendar so that it doesn’t fall through the cracks. Experts suggest weekly Date Night, but if that’s not feasible for your relationship, choose a regular interval that works for both of you.

2.    Give your partner your undivided attention for a designated period of time. Notwithstanding emergencies, minimizing distractions can help your partner feel cherished, valued, and respected.

3.    Choose mutually enjoyable activities.

4.    Try new things (food, activities, etc).

5.    Approach activities outside your comfort zone with enthusiasm and an open mind. Remember, the goal is not to fall in love with a new activity – the goal is a shared experience with your beloved.

6.    HAVE FUN!


While routine fosters a sense of security and nostalgia (“our place,” “our table,” “our song,”), it also sometimes breeds monotony and apathy. Adding some variety to your Date Night while maintaining the specialness of some old faves can stave off these relationships killers. And remember to throw in collaborative and interactive experiences to boost oxytocin. If you need a little inspiration, here are some ideas for mixing it up on Date Night (or day, where applicable). 


1.    Citywide Scavenger Hunt

2.    Cooking Class

3.    Karaoke

4.    Indoor Rock Climbing

5.    Billiards

6.    Concerts

7.    Drive-in Movie

8.    Bowling

9.    Museum Exhibit

10. Mystery Dinner Theater

11. Double Date with friends

12. Play / Musical

13. Rooftop Cinema

14. Painting Class

15. Board Games

16. Trivia Night

17. Miniature Golf

18. Dining in the Dark

19. Trade Massages

20. Roller Skating / Ice Skating

21. Wine Tasting

22. Local Charity Event

23. Skydiving

24. Hiking

25. Book Signing

26. Poetry Reading

27. Open Mic Night

28. Comedy Performance

29. Musical Instrument Lessons

30. Bike Rides

31. Aquarium

32. Arcade

33. Bingo

34. Picnic

35. Observatory

36. Planetarium

37. Virtual Reality Experience

38. Escape Room

39. Ropes Course

40. Pottery Class