Finding Ways to Date Your Mate

Taking the person you share your life with for granted is an easy habit to get into. The fact that you have sex on a semi-regular basis, share a checkbook, and discuss whether or not to paint the living room does not mean that you have license to ignore the romantic quotient of your relationship. No couple should expect to be romantic all of the time; you do have a life that needs your attention. The best way to make sure that you do have some romance in your relationship is to continue to date, just the way you did before you began to shack up.

The definition of a date isn't set in stone. Part of the dating process centers on the activities you do together. Another part centers on the attitude that you bring to a date. You may dine in the most romantic restaurant in the world, but if one of you can't stop thinking about the big sales meeting scheduled for the following morning, the date is going to be a washout. On the other hand, sharing even a cold can of soup when a storm knocks out your electricity can be very romantic when the two of you ignore your circumstances and give each other your full concentration.

The morning date

Like any other date, a morning date takes planning. In fact, morning dates may require more planning than others. When you first get up, your creative juices may feel drained. How do you overcome your grogginess? Take the time to prepare. For example, if you want to have a romantic breakfast in bed, prepare a breakfast tray the night before. Set an electric pot to brew coffee so that it's ready when you wake up. You don't have to think about what to do when you plan ahead; just follow your own instructions.

Lunch dates

Lunch dates are a great way to keep your romance going during the week. If your offices are close enough to each other, meet somewhere for lunch. You don't have to meet in a restaurant. Maybe there's a park at the halfway point where you could brown bag it.

The menu for a lunch date is not critical to its success. Your time is limited; you may find the most convenient meal is to grab a couple of hot dogs from a street vendor. If the weather's nice, just sharing some unaccustomed sunlight on a workday can seem like a mini-vacation.

Phone dates

If you can't meet in person, use the phone. You can both find a phone out of the office to ensure some privacy and call each other. You may each have a cell phone — you can call from anywhere you like. If not, see if a conference room or nearby phone booth can offer the privacy you need.

You can keep your voice low and whispery to cultivate intimacy. Your intonations are very different than when you speak to your partner in person, even when your partner is sitting only a few feet away. You're more likely to say something silly or very personal on the phone than when your mate is in the same room.

Traditional dinner dates

What differentiates a date from just a meal? How much time you spend is one factor. If you linger over each course and don't mind that the waiter is taking his time bringing you the bill, that means you're deep in conversation and busy rekindling your romance. Another indicator may be what you order. For example, sharing a bottle of wine puts you in a different mood than drinking mineral water.

Keep in mind that not everybody finds a restaurant the ideal place for a date. The problem may be with diversions at the restaurant. At these types of establishments, your partner may get so involved in what is going on around him or her that full attention is not given to your conversation. If your twosome includes someone who is easily distracted, you're better off ordering takeout for your romantic dinner dates so that you can get him or her to give you undivided attention.

Nontraditional dinner dates

A dinner date usually means that two people get together between about 6 and 9 p.m. to share a meal. However, you may also spend that time together without eating a thing. If you decide that the meal part of the date is not that important, you open up a whole world of possible activities:

  • Go for a run, stop at a nearby lake, and watch the sunset or the stars twinkle.
  • Take a painting or language class together and stimulate your minds.
  • Take in an early movie, when the lines aren't so long, and dine on buttered popcorn and chocolate-covered raisins.
  • Take advantage of the last hours of daylight to work on your garden; then have a salad from the greens you picked in your back yard.

In other words, a nontraditional dinner date means that you set aside your dinner time to do something different together, rather than sit at home, eat leftovers, and watch TV.

Extended dates

How great would it be if you could hop on a plane Friday afternoon and spend the weekend in Paris? Such glamorous voyages don't mix with most people's budgets. However, you can find less extravagant ways of spending an entire weekend together.

Many people take weekend trips that involve getting into the family vehicle, picking a place on the map a few hours away, and enjoying whatever that community has to offer.

You may also have a particular goal in mind for your trip. If you like to shop for antiques, you could head for areas that have lots of antique dealers. If you want to check out the fall foliage, a nearby state park would be another great weekend destination.

Some trips, like a visit to an orchard to go apple picking, are perfect for sharing with your children. However, your kids should know that some weekend trips are only for mom and dad. Set this precedent early and they won't howl quite as loudly when you leave them with their grandparents.

Don't try to pack too much into these long weekends. For a trip to qualify as a date, you need some time to unwind and get close to one another. That closeness is difficult to achieve if you never remove your seat belts.

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