If every Friday is set aside for the same ho-hum dinner-and-a-movie, “date night” will repeat like Groundhog Day and eventually become a grind. That kind of drudgery can derail even the most starry-eyed-in-love couple (think Prince William and Kate Middleton).
The good news: It’s not that difficult to turn up the heat. The trick, experts say, is finding new and exciting ways to bond with your honey — and trying to be a little spontaneous about it.
Our friends from SELF asked Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. (aka “Dr. Romance”), psychotherapist and author of The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again, for five ways to bring back the spark. Oyster experts picked the best places and environments to rejuvenate your relationship, whether you’re on vacation or it’s just another night.
Get nostalgic. Think back to when you were first dating. Go back to the place where you first met, watch a DVD (complete with popcorn) of the first movie you saw together, hit Happy Hour at the bar near your old job or wander through the park with a picnic lunch.
Where to do it: Picnicking in New York’s Central Park is something special, anyone who has done it will tell you. The beautiful escape in the middle of a bustling metropolitan city has a unique and exciting feel; the setting ignited an appreciation for life’s simple things. Perfect for surfacing old memories that make you both smile, Central Park has got it all. The Excelsior Hotel on the city’s Upper West Side is just a block from the park, located in a quiet, residential neighborhood.
Take to the water. There’s something very soothing and seductive about water. Take a tour of fancy fountains, visit a restaurant near a lake, stream or the ocean or order a catered picnic and take it on a ferry ride. If you live on a coast, hit the beach with some cheese and wine (assuming it’s legal in your state/county). Live in a tourist destination? Take a gondola ride, complete with a singing gondolier.
Where to do it: We love the romantic, beachfront hammocks hanging over the sand at Ke Iki Beach Bungalows, in part because they match the hotel’s laid-back, bohemian vibe. They add to the low-key romance of this bungalow hotel, perfect for couples who don’t need much beyond a beach, a sunset, and a little privacy.
Act like a tourist. Even if your town is somewhat ho-hum, find the hidden treasures. Have dinner in a nice hotel with cocktails at the piano bar, visit local attractions like museums or the aquarium or take a stroll through art galleries in the area followed by dinner at a sidewalk cafe. Some towns still have drive-in movies — the most romantic date ever!
Where to do it: Whether you’ve lived in the same neighborhood for one year or one decade, there are always more hidden gems to be found. Los Angeles’s Santa Monica and Venice neighborhoods are perfect for discovering new places — Venice has evolved into a bohemian Shangri-la. A few canals remain and are worth visiting to see the period bungalows lining them, but the main draw today is Ocean Front Walk, aka the boardwalk, a stretch of sunbaked T-shirt shops, hot dog stands, and pizza joints along the beach. Check out The Ambrose, an off the beaten path boutique hotel for tourists who are looking for a fantastic, Zen-like alternative to Santa Monica’s enormous beachfront hotels.
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Get some culture: Search out small theaters, college events and speakers, even high school plays and sports. The energy in these less-commercial activities will inspire you and provide plenty of fodder for great conversation.
Where to do it: Washington, D.C. one of the most beautiful and inspiring cities in America, is the perfect city for stimulating conversation. Aside from its political vibe, the Capitol has a plethora of culture, events, sites and neighborhoods to stroll around. The George Washington University, located in the heart of the city, has regular events and speakers pertaining to a wide range of topics. The JW Marriott, steps from the National Mall, is a great pick for everything there is to do in Washington, D.C.
The bottom line: Make a weekly commitment to doing something fun together. You pick one week, and he picks the next. Time together should open endless possibilities of fun — not endless dinners (and a movie) stuck on repeat.