Remember how excited you were about that first date?
You got ready with butterflies in your stomach. Primping and prepping to perfection. You agonized over your outfit. It was nerve-wracking and fun at the same time. Anticipation filled the air.
Now, compare that to “date night” when you’ve been with a guy for a long time. Not quite the same, is it?
Date nights aren’t a bad idea. Given how busy we are, it’s a good thing to set aside routine times specifically for your relationship. But it’s not good if that time has become kind of ho-hum.
And that’s the problem with date nights. They’re repetitive. They DO become ho-hum.
Which works against your relationship.
Here’s where some science comes in handy. Recently, researchers from the University of Georgia looked into why repetitive tasks tend to get boring. They found that repetition isn’t what kills the excitement.
Say you go out tonight. While you’re out, you find yourself thinking, “Oh good. Dinner and a movie. Again. And it’ll be the same thing next week…”
THAT. The expectation that future situations will be just like your current experience will actually make the current experience less exciting. [i]
But not to fear. If you find yourself in a date night rut, there are a couple of things you can do about it.
One is a quick fix you can use right now, and the other will make date nights better for years to come.
Step 1: The Quick Fix
Okay, so you’ve got a date night thing going on tonight, and you need something you can use right now.
I gotcha covered.
The thing you have the most control over is yourself. And you can change your own expectations just by deciding to. So start there.
Even if this date is just like the last 10, IMAGINE a different future. Tell yourself that your next date will be something new and unexpected.
When your expectations take an up-turn, it literally affects everything about your demeanor. You’ll smile more. You’ll laugh easier. You’ll have more fun, even if the current date isn’t all that different from the last three.
What’s more, attitudes are contagious. When you embrace excitement about the date, there’s a good chance he’ll follow suit.
This little bit of mind-magic can have a powerful effect on both of you.
Step 2: The Long-Term Solution
While Step 1 puts a Band-Aid on the problem, it doesn’t really solve it. For something more permanent, you need actual change.
First, the good news. Research has shown time and again that envisioning future success is powerful.[ii]
In other words, by doing Step 1, you’ve already started Step 2. Envisioning better dates in the future makes it far more likely that you’ll do the work to MAKE those dates better.
But there are other things you can do, too. For example, even if he usually sets the agenda for date night, offer to take the wheel next week.
Tell him you have something special planned (even if you don’t yet). Tell him it’s a surprise. Then plan something different.
Then keep the ball rolling by suggesting a double date one week. (Studies show double dates are better for reviving passion than an intimate candle-lit dinner![iii]) Or take a cooking or dancing class together. Or even ask him to surprise you.
Just keep mixing it up.
The thing about dating ruts is that they’re both easy to fall into AND easy to get out of.
A simple mind-hack will make your next date better, even if everything’s the same. And a moderate amount of planning will make every date after that more exciting.
Don’t settle for dull dates. Create the passion you deserve by spicing things up with some variety.
[i] Sevilla, Julio, Jiao Zhang, and Barbara E. Kahn. “Anticipation of Future Variety Reduces Satiation from Current Experiences.” Journal of Marketing Research 53.6 (2016): 954-68. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
[ii] LeVan, Angie. “Seeing Is Believing: The Power of Visualization.” Psychology Today. HealthProfs.com, 3 Dec. 2009. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
[iii] “Keep Romance Alive with Double Dates: And Other Ways Perceptions Influence Relationships.” Society for Personality and Social Psychology. N.p., 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.