Whether you are married or looking to get married, bringing back these "retro" dating habits will greatly enhance your relationship with that special someone.
1) Go on an actual date - just the two of you
You know things have sunk pretty low in the dating world when the first tip is to just go on an actual date! You see, contrary to popular belief, a REAL date involves two people going out together - not two swarms of people hanging out together. Hanging out with people of the opposite sex does not constitute a date - that's a get together, or a party, or a scrum, or whatever you want to call it, but it's not a date! So, if you're married, take your lovely spouse and go out together, just the two of you. If you're not married, then find a lovely person of the opposite gender that you're attracted to and go out together, just the two of you. It will be fun!
2) Pick up the phone and ask them out
The art of calling someone on the phone and asking them out has quickly become a lost art. This form of human interaction has been replaced by sending a message through cyberspace with funny emoticons and acronyms. This is very unfortunate. Actually asking someone out on a date tells them that you're interested in them, that you want to spend time with them, and that you value the relationship that you share. Sending a text message says you're bored and have nothing better to do. Your spouse will be tickled pink if you call them up and ask them out on a date (even if they are in the other room). Just try it. They're going to love it.
3) Actually plan something to do
We know you might think it sounds fun to just chill on the couch and watch football, or the latest episode of Survivor, or to play video games, or peruse Netflix - but rarely do those plans (or the lack thereof) lead to successful dates. It's odd, but simply not planning something to do is one of the primary reasons married couples don't date as much as they should. Don't fall into that trap. Just plan something, get it on the calendar, and go have a blast together! Show your spouse, or that special someone, that they mean everything to you by planning fun and creative dates that they will enjoy!
4) Select activities that get you interacting with each other
Movies are great - but they're not great dates. Sure, it can be nice to have a low-key, cuddle-up-together movie night from time to time. We're certainly not opposed to that. However, it would be wise if you also select some activities that get you talking, interacting, and getting to know each other better. When was the last time you asked your spouse a meaningful question and then listened to every last word that they said? Go ice-skating, play a board game, make dinner together, go on a scavenger hunt, go dancing, take a class, etc. Remember, the purpose of dating is to get to know each other better and to strengthen your relationship.
5) Tell them beforehand what you'll be doing
This might seem obvious to some, but we've heard far too many horror stories about the girl who went hiking in stilettos and a skirt, or the guy who went to the symphony in tennis shoes and his ball cap. We don't even need to get into the dates that unexpectedly involved large amounts of water and no change of dry clothes. The nightmares speak for themselves (and you may have lived through a few of them) - you should always let your date know what to expect so they can come prepared and feel comfortable. If you want to surprise them, that's sweet, but at least tip them off as to what they should wear. If you're married, it would be especially sweet to set out an outfit on the bed with a little sticky note saying, "Can't wait for our date at 6pm," or something like that. Okay, stop the cuteness already.
6) Open up the car door for her
Remember those cute chick-flicks where the guy acts like a gentleman and opens up the gal's door for her? We should bring that back. Since when did acting chivalrous go out of fashion? It's possible that some women don't like this gesture, but we think those women are in the minority and it's a pretty safe bet that you won't offend her by getting her door. You might even impress her so much that she'll say yes to the second date! Oh, and if you're married, you sure as better open the door for your wife! At least on dates. Make dates that special.
7) Hold hands
Holding hands is fun and romantic. It's a very simple gesture that says a lot. It sends the message that you care, that you're interested, that you're enjoying yourself, and that there's definitely some chemistry between the two of you! All very good messages to send on a date! The worst thing you can do on a date with your spouse is to act like you're not married and to walk side-by-side without any physical touch. If you're married, then you should always hold hands on dates. Always.
8) Ask when they should be home
This one might not apply as much to the married folks, but, we guarantee that the married folks will appreciate this for their children. It can be stressful for parents to wait up late for some guy they've never met to bring home their teenage daughter. The point here is to have an end time in mind for the date, and to not simply wait for the fun to die down. Have you ever heard of the point of diminishing returns? This has great application to dating - trust us! For the married folks, ask your spouse when they would like to be in by, and honor their wishes (Plus, getting in early leaves plenty of time for some proper loving to happen!).
9) Send a follow up "Thank you" or "I had a great time"
This doesn't have to be a formal call or anything like that, it could be a simple text message. Either way, express gratitude to your date for taking you out. If you had a good time, then let them know that. Obviously, the fear here is conveying a message that you don't intend to convey. If you've been on a three-hour date but you knew in the first ten minutes that you could be perfectly happy never seeing this person again, you probably don't need to gush about it and imply you're up for round two. But, that still shouldn't keep you from being polite and saying "thank you." If you're married, leave a cute note for your spouse on the mirror, or their pillow, or in their car, thanking them for taking you out. It will reinforce how much that date meant to you and it will keep dating as a high priority in your marriage! Gratitude goes a long way.
10) Go on dates often
Dates don't have to be extravagant. They don't have to cost a lot of money. They don't even have to take very long. They simply need to happen, and happen often. Dating gives you time to connect (or reconnect) and discover (or rediscover) what you love about this special someone. They bring the two of you closer together and nurture the relationship that you share. Don't let dating fall by the wayside and become something "old-fashioned," in your marriage. Choose to make date nights happen, and watch the dating magic strengthen your relationship and nurture your marriage.
"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."
- Mignon McLaughlin
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