Last night was a rough night for basketball. Not only did Gordon Hayward suffer a horrific leg injury... but three (three!) of the guys I like playing with were unavailable for pickup, because it was "date night."
What are the odds, right?
But it got me thinking, "How come I've never done date night before?"
I realized that, while I support the idea behind date night (couples should have fun together, and couples that play together stay together)... "date night" implies certain lifestyle and relationship tendencies that are incompatible with how I want to live.
1. "Date night" implies that the couple doesn't have shared interests.
For me, love isn't enough. One of the primary roles of my boyfriend is that of activity partner.
That doesn't mean we do all the same activities -- after all, as I wrote in If Your Partner Loves You, They'll Let You Travel, I spent about eight months of a four-year relationship traveling without my boyfriend...
And he even missed a Valentine's Week with me, because he got a permit to whitewater kayak the Grand Canyon, but only if he started on February 14.
Yes, we both have our individual activities, and we both traveled without each other. But some of my best vacations were with him:
Torres del Paine, Chile. No crowds, only rainbows. Because #shoulderseason
Beyond travel, we had several shared activities that we do right here at home: kayaking, mountain biking, volleyball, scuba diving, hiking, camping, backpacking, karaoke, dancing, spearfishing, abalone diving, skateboarding, and so much else.
Between all those shared interests and activities, we didn't have time for date night.
And I wouldn't have had it any other way.
2. "Date night" implies that your day-to-day is unromantic and routine.
One of my favorite blog posts of all time is Life Hack: Do What You Do When You Travel While You're At Home. In it, I wrote:
Which is why the best life hack in the whole world... is to live your whole life like you're traveling. Be silly! Be adventurous! Try new things! Find beauty in the everyday, normal sights and events around you.
Just like you do when you travel.
If you see a tree that's dropping flowers all over the ground -- have a snowball fight!
If you're doing a "long, boring drive" to your parents' house -- stop and smell the sunflowers. (Or do whatever else people do in the sunflowers.)
Or just go dance in it together! Here's me in the "boring" Central Valley, just moments before we broke into some badass orchard ballet together.
In the car, listen to music you both love and can rock out to! Or, if you like different music (or if one of you is musically apathetic), listen to podcasts and audiobooks. It typically takes me and my boyfriend about thirteen hours to listen to an eight-hour audiobook, because I like to pause it several times per chapter to discuss.
Just because it's not "date night" doesn't mean you can't be lifelong rockstars, or lifelong learners. Plus -- who knows what your conversations can spark? After listening to A History of the World in Six Glasses, by Tom Standage:
My boyfriend and I found ourselves at a fancy Greek restaurant -- the kind of place we'd've never gone, normally -- trying out pine-aged, old-world wines. We had so much fun, we literally closed the place down.
Now, say you get invited to a theme party. Go big or go home, right? It's not that hard! And it's always worth it! "Dress like a song" party? How about Wrecking Ball, by Miley Cyrus?
Going to Oktoberfest? Put in, like, ten minutes of effort and dress the part. And when the music starts -- DANCE!
Photo credit: Becca Swett -- she's the best <3
While you're at it, go ahead and enter the yodeling contest! I did (accidentally) -- and I won!
Turn off Netflix and go celebrate those small, everyday miracles -- like the full moon, reverse trick-or-treating, or a wind chime walk:
Running errands? Why not do it on the scooter -- and bring your puppy!
And don't forget to sit on the "magic carpet" sale at Costco and sing A Whole New World together.
Or test out the breakfast-in-bed trays at Ikea... by climbing into a bed and taking turns bringing each other breakfast in bed. It's the only way to know which one you like best.
Just because it's a "routine" "chore" doesn't mean it has to be boring or stressful. Put on your travel goggles and make it a romantic excursion!
When you do, "date night" will become obsolete. Every night will feel like date night.
3. There's an important difference between "experience seeking" and "boredom avoidance" -- and between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Let's talk psychology.
Sensation-seeking behavior can typically be categorized as Experience Seeking (going to the theater; watching a meteor shower); Thrill and Adventure Seeking (sky diving; scuba diving; mountain biking); Boredom Avoidance (doing something because you're scared you'll be bored if you don't); and Disinhibition ("cutting loose", maybe with drugs, alcohol, or dancing in a huge crowd).
The experience seeking and thrill and adventure seeking tend to be activities we're intrinsically motivated to do. In other words, we do it because we love the theater, watching meteor showers, or mountain biking.
Boredom avoidance and disinhibition tend to be activities we're more extrinsically motivated to do. If you're mountain biking because you're scared you won't have anything to do... you're not motivated by the rush of racing down a hill or conquering a mountain. You're motivated by fear of boredom.
When you're intrinsically motivated, you're typically driven by a desire to succeed -- to see the stars or swim with the fish. When you get what you want, you feel joy, excitement, and happiness.
When you're extrinsically motivated, you're typically driven by a fear of failure -- in this case, being bored or not having fun because you're sober or too "in your own head." When you get what you want... you feel relieved.
There's a difference, and it matters.
Which takes us back to "date night." The idea that you have to schedule a time where you have to do something with your partner suggests that, perhaps, you're not participating in activities you're intrinsically motivated to do.
And it suggests the motivation for the date is extrinsic (we have to have a date tonight), rather than intrinsic (I want to see Fiddler on the Roof tonight).
Are you seeking thrill, adventures or experiences... or are you avoiding boredom?
Is there a better way to do this?
Now, I'm not saying this is right for everyone. If you're a couple that is so super busy you hardly ever have time for each other, date night makes sense.
Likewise, if you're a couple who's taken the Five Love Languages test (which, though pop psychology, is actually a great way to uncover communication and relationship-style differences between you and your partner), and one of you scored highly in Quality Time and the other scored highly in another "love language"... it's worth scheduling something for the sake of the QT partner.
Part of relationships is compromise, right?
Maybe, too, if you're a more traditional couple with a more rigid sense of gender roles, "date night" is worth it. If he's spending most of his free time with "the guys" and she spends her evenings with her "girlfriends," and there are few shared interests and activities, putting a date on the calendar might be the way they make it work.
But even so. That doesn't mean you have to limit your silliness, lovey-doviness, and romance to date night. Pack a little something extra in his lunch.
Buy a small, special something for each other every time you go to the store -- even if it's just a small bag of dried fruit or the kind of tea you know she likes. (Remember: psychology proves that spending as little as $5 on someone else produces a lasting boost in your mood!)
And, again, because I can't say this enough:
Appreciate everyday miracles together. We could all benefit from living just a little bit more like we're traveling.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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