But, as most of us now know all too well, lockdowns have largely had the opposite effect on romance. We lived on top of each other, without changing our pajamas and sometimes without taking a shower – not sexy.
“Covid has incinerated sexual desire,” said Madelyn Esposito-Smith, a Wisconsin-based sex therapist. “Couples living together have lost all intrigue and mystery working side-by-side remotely, and alone time to recharge has become a precious commodity.”
With summer approaching, it’s time to bring back something we’ve been missing, maybe without even realizing it: a date.
As the name suggests, a date night is simply a planned time that allows couples to focus on each other. “It can be code for timed sex, but it can also be playing cards, cooking a meal together, going out, seeing friends or going on a hike,” said New Jersey-based sex counselor Melanie Davis. . “Perhaps it should be renamed ‘date and time,’ because it doesn’t matter when you do it – as long as you do it.”
Even if you’ve been together for decades, there’s something to be said for spending intentional, quality time with your partner.
“A lot of people who have been together for a long time forget that they are still together,” said sex therapist Rosara Torrisi of the Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy in New York. “Relationships are like savings accounts, not checking accounts – you want to make sure you always have more in that account than any early withdrawals.”
In fact, date night can have benefits that last longer than the next morning. “Date nights have been found to have a positive impact on relationships, including increased relationship satisfaction, care for your partner, mutual pleasure, better communication, and increased commitment,” said Rachel Needle, psychologist and co-director of the Florida-based Modern Sex Therapy Institutes. .
A New Look at Dating
Say the words “date” and the stereotypical romantic candlelight dinner probably comes to mind. But the truth is, you can go as chic or understated — and as expensive or affordable — as you want. Whether you’re still staying close to home or just starting to venture out into the world, juggling childcare or just starting to date, you have plenty of options.
“Dating is a concept with one purpose: to foster feelings of connection with a significant person in your life,” said Rebecca Sokoll, a psychotherapist based in Brooklyn, New York. “Some basic ingredients to add to any good date night include: novelty, screen-free time together, eye contact, and shared experience. The more ingredients you have, the more likely you are to date. the goal of fostering connection and moving on to a greater sense of potential for growth in the relationship.”
Here are some other suggestions from my colleagues:
Prepare the terrain. Dating can be tough when you’re a parent, but it’s not impossible. “Maybe you can do a date night swap where you find another family with kids, and you can disconnect one day a week; you can hang out together,” Needle said. “Or plan something for when the kids go to bed or on a date day or a few hours and leave for a day at work or leave a few hours earlier if possible.”
Be nostalgic. “I encourage clients to describe their favorite past dates to learn more about what was exciting, fun, playful or intriguing during that time,” said sex therapist Sari Cooper, director of the Center for Love and Sex at New York. “Then we think about how to incorporate those qualities of special times spent into new types of dates that may need to be different due to Covid.”
Turn off your phones. “It can be as simple as having dinner intentionally and hanging out at home without distraction,” said Oregon-based sex therapist Paula Leech. “I encourage my clients to continue dating their partners, putting as much effort into the relationship now as they did in the beginning. For most of us, being on the phone for anything anything outside of something urgent on a date was considered rude. attention was a sign of respect, concern and care – and it still is.”
Go back there. If you feel comfortable, try to date in public. “When we leave the confines of our homes, we can see our partners from different perspectives,” said Hanna Basel, a psychotherapist who practices in Minnesota and Oregon. “When my husband and I went on our first date months into Covid, I was reminded of how charismatic he was as he interacted with our servers and chatted with people at a nearby table. It was a part of him that I hadn’t seen in months, and I remembered who he is other than a husband and father.”
Or stay indoors. “When staying home fits your budget, put the kids to bed a little earlier, put that decaying outfit in the closet, pop the cork, and eat by candlelight,” said Deborah J. Fox, therapist at couple in Washington, DC. “Are you afraid you won’t tell each other after two years of house arrest? The web is full of card games for couples, some of which include conversation starters on topics that just don’t come to mind .”
Go on an adventure. It can be as simple as going for a hike, trying a new restaurant, or driving to another city – anything outside of your comfort zone. “New experiences are a fantastic opportunity to learn more about ourselves and our partner,” Leech said. “Particularly adventurous dates can elicit feelings of vulnerability, which can breed closeness.”
Rethink intimacy. “Have sex before you go to dinner,” Torrisi advised. “People usually feel too bloated and tired to have fun sex after dinner.” Or find a deserted alley in your neighborhood, put on some music and have a kiss. A shared bath or massage can also be sexy and relaxing.
Acquire a new skill. Take a cooking class, take part in a wine tasting, or even learn how to change the oil in your car together, as long as you try something new together.
Make it a slumber party. Date nights offer couples an extended period of time to relax and connect. “I think there’s more benefit to sporadic date nights than there are more frequent date nights,” said Emily Jamea, a sex therapist in Houston. “Many of my clients complain that they are so tired at the end of their appointment that they have no energy to make love. Women in particular seem to need more time to relax. relax before you can get in the mood for sex.”
Have a date. “A lot of couples are experimenting with sobriety these days,” said Sokoll, the psychotherapist. “Consider how it can affect date night. What about date day or even date morning? A different time of day changes the type of activity we’re in able to engage, changes the circumstances in which we engage with each other, and it changes the mindset we inhabit together.”
Much of the same advice also works for singles. “Engaging in an activity together can be a great way to get to know each other while being goofy, creative, seeing how your date acts and reacts during activities, and having both traditional and unrelated to talk about,” Needle said.
And don’t rule out a virtual date. “If someone is unwilling to meet you via FaceTime, Zoom or another visual platform, they may have misrepresented themselves online,” said Davis, the sex counselor. . “I’ve had some great first dates that lasted an hour or two on Zoom. I’ve been able to meet people’s dogs and see them relaxed, at home. It’s a no-investment way to see if he’s there is an initial attraction without filters.”