Are dates important for couples?
I won’t keep you hanging. The answer is right here: YES, dates are important for couples! Period. (Or exclamation point!) As a couples’ therapist in Montreal I see all kinds of couples everyday – married, cohabitating, just starting their relationship, younger or older, with or without kids, in romantically-driven or arranged marriages, in closed or open relationships, gay or straight, polyamorous… I love working with all my couples (and some are trios or quartets)! Despite the variety, the question whether to date or not, once you are already in a relationship always has the same answer: YES. Definitely date your partner. Just because you’re already in a relationship doesn’t mean the dating should stop. On the contrary! Many of us intuitively feel that dating our long-term partners is a good idea but have you ever stopped to think about why? Here are a few reasons.
- They provide opportunities to reconnect, to seek each other’s advice and share feelings and meaningful thoughts. Think about it: isn’t that how your fell in love in the first place? Being able to show your vulnerabilities, express ideas or excitement in the context of a safe relationship is an enriching experience for everybody involved so share with each other, be vulnerable and enjoy the resulting intimacy!
- Having those dates planned in advance (or at least having a regular time set for this purpose) gives you something to look forward to together. In other words, it gives you one more thing in common. And guess what: having things in common (including future plans) is good for relationships. You may think that having fun together should be spontaneous but the longer you are together, the busier you get, the bigger your family and more obligations you have in your day-to-day life the least likely you are to just magically stumble upon those moments when you can focus only on each other. Plan your dates in advance!
- Feeling excitement together about something external can translate into excitement about each other. For instance, walking on a suspended bridge can increase your heart rate and that level of physiological arousal can be then transferred onto your companion making you more attracted to them, without you even realizing it! For all the fellow geeks and knowledge seekers out there check out this explanation of a classic 1970s experiment. Conclusion: Do exciting things together to be excited about each other!
- Relaxing together is a bonding experience. If most of your time with partner is spent on disagreements, managing chores and daily hassles, i.e., doing less-than-pleasant activities then you might start to associate your partner with feeling less-than-good. And that’s not fair to them, to you or your couple. Carve out some time to relax to together so that you can associate each other’s presence with bliss rather than pressure.
- Engaging in varied activities that reflect each person’s interests shows that your care about your partner and makes you feel like they really care about you. It is not necessary to do it all during the same date – you can alternate your museum visits with monster truck shows Invite your partner to share their interests with you and share yours with them.
- Without an occasional “quality time” it’s just too easy to grow apart. At first, we miss our partners but with time we get over it and find somebody else to talk to, to share our struggles and victories with and before we know it, we don’t have that much to talk about with our partners anymore. Need another reason: research suggests that married couples who date are also less likely to get a divorce, so go on dates and reduce your risk of splitting up.
- Date nights increase your sense of commitment. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight or LBTQ+ or how you define your relationship (dating, married, casual, open or monogamous) – if you are in a relationship, commitment predicts your couple’s stability and longevity. As a bonus, commitment also means a greater sense of safety and satisfaction with the relationship, so increase your commitment to the relationship and each other!
- Frequent dates with your spouse are associated with greater happiness in the marriage. Research suggests that husbands and wives who go on regular dates report 2.5 to 4 times more happiness compared to those who spend time together less than once a week. Same goes for cohabitating couples. Date your partner and increase your sense of happiness!
- Greater communication and increased satisfaction with the way you communicate are also benefits of dating your significant other. It just makes sense. If you never have an opportunity to talk to your significant other, how are you going to be satisfied with the quality of your communication? Texts can help, face-time is fine, but nothing beats the old fashioned face-to-face interaction. Communicate with your partner: share your thoughts but also listen and show interest in what they have to say. Communication problems are one of the main reasons why people start couples’ therapy. Don’t wait! Work on your communication throughout your relationship and increase your satisfaction with the communication.
- Couples who spend quality time together at least once a week are over three times more likely to report above-average satisfaction with their sex life. Isn’t that cool? Sure, it may be “just” because dates often involve sexual activities. It may also be because the dates make people feel closer to one-another, which is something that predicts great sex! Sexual satisfaction has very little to do with techniques and a lot to do with how you feel about your partner and yourself in the relationship. If you can be vulnerable with them, trust them, empathize with them and have fun together outside of the bedroom then you can do the same in bed (or wherever your mood strikes you!). Read this sentence again: vulnerability, trust, empathy and fun are BIG components of fantastic sex. Now that you know it, enjoy better sex!