When you first start seeing someone, dating is easy. Everything is new about that person. Every experience together is new. You want to make that extra effort and make everything special. You make plans in advance.
But once you’re with someone for a while, especially if you are living with that person, date nights seem to be pushed by the wayside. The responsibilities of real life seem to get in the way and taking time for one another seems to happen less and less. You see each other everyday, why put purposeful energy into planning something, right?
Having planned dates are important because they allow couples the opportunity to give each other 100% of their undivided time and attention. In order for a couple to maintain relationship satisfaction and connection they must spend focused time together.
At Solid Foundations Therapy, we define a date as pre-planned time where a couple is able to leave the stress of their work, and home life behind them. We view dating as the time when a couple can really listen and talk to one another. Unfortunately, we have found that so many couples allow practical and emotional obstacles to get in the way of scheduling out dates. While this is sometimes unavoidable, our goal is to help you remove these obstacles.
Keep reading for the 5 common fears that keep you from having an amazing date.
What happens if we don’t have fun together?
Set yourself up for success before you go out on a date by taking a moment to discuss with your partner what the concept of date night means for each of you. Going out on a date could mean different things to different couples. Often times, each individual has their own set of expectations of what a proper date consists of. For some, it could mean going out to dinner. For others, a date could consist of having a new adventure together or spending time having quality conversation in the park. By setting up the expectations beforehand, this ensures that no one is disappointed by the date.
Use this as an opportunity to challenge what your idea of date is. If you think that a date can only be dinner on a Friday night, then you are limiting the possibilities. A date can be anything from brunch on a Saturday, to lunch during the week, to skydiving on a Wednesday afternoon. As long as you are making time for each other and doing something enjoyable, it is a win-win situation.
What if we find out that we don’t have anything to talk about?
Another common struggle we hear about from couples is the fear of getting on the date and realizing that you and your partner have nothing to talk about. If you feel the same way, you aren’t alone, trust me. The topics that couples typically tend to talk about – household worries, kids, schedules, etc. – aren’t the sort of things that are satisfying to discuss on a date. These topics often causes a couple to view their date as stressful or as a chore versus something fun that they want to actually do.
Some couples will consider certain topics off-limits to allow time on a date to reconnect. We recommend not talking about kids, the house, work stress, or other practical aspects of the relationship.
It is normal, even encouraged, to prepare for your date ahead of time if you feel that you will struggle with conversation. Try thinking up or googling a few open-ended questions to ask or focus on topics that you’re passionate about. You can also listen to podcasts or read a few articles to find interesting things to stimulate conversation. Consider sharing updates about common interest, something you are passionate about or a hobby that you have outside of your relationship as a way to keep your partner in the loop.
What if we don’t have the money to go out?
If you are on a strict budget and have no extra money to devote to dating, then look for events in your community that cost little or no money. We recommend Summer Nights Classic Car Show that happen every Friday evening in downtown Downers Grove during the summer, the Downers Grove Park District Summer Concert Series running on Tuesdays in the summer or checking out the local trivia.
You could try planning a picnic in a park or a hike at a nearby location. You may also want to start looking on Groupon for a good deal on restaurants, favorite activities such as mini golf and bowling or a completely new activity that neither of you have done before. Bonus tip: While looking on discount websites, you may stumble upon a great little ‘something’ like a spa deal to surprise your partner with for their birthday.
What if we don’t have time?
Most of the couples that we see in therapy state that they simply don’t have the time to schedule out a date. Let’s face it. No one really has free time these days. We all have constant demands on our time. But we all have the same amount of time – 24 hours. What we have come to realize is that most of the time, couples aren’t using their time wisely. They are prioritising other things that they perceive to be more important.
Make time for a date and actually put it on the calendar. We often recommend putting date place holders once a month to make sure that you don’t over schedule. By putting it on the calendar, it creates a physical reminder not to put anything else on that date. It also helps you to have something to look forward to and build anticipation.
Explore together how often you would like to get away together and for how long. Set a goal for often you would like to have a date and a variety of duriations. Not every date has be hours long to be satisfying.
What if we don’t have a babysitter?
Parents worry about leaving their children behind when they go out on a date. They worry about how their children will feel being left. But what you should know is that children are resilient. They will be okay. It’s better for them in the long run to see a loving relationship first hand, a relationship where you are making time for one another. They also benefit from having two parents who are recharged and better able to engage with them when they are around.
Hiring a babysitter can be expensive. A low to no cost option is swapping childcare with another couple. They watch your children one night, then on a different night, you watch theirs. This allows both of you to go out on a date without having to pay for a regular sitter.
If you are hiring a babysitter, ask your friends or local mom groups who they use or if they could recommend someone that they trust. They may have a teenager at home, or a college student home on break, who would be willing to babysit and could use some extra cash.
The biggest thing that you need to keep in mind is that dating your partner needs to be a priority no matter what else is going on in your life. When couples are connected, all other obstacles don’t seem as bad. When you and your partner are on the same page, you are able to tackle the problems and stressors of life easier.
If you’re feeling out of touch with your partner, please contact Solid Foundations Therapy today to schedule your appointment with one of our skilled and knowledgeable therapists. With a little work, you and your partner can learn how to communicate effectively, reconnect as lovers, and celebrate each other’s differences in a way that brings greater authenticity, peace, and happiness to your relationship. We would be happy to help you get back on track.