No matter how long you and your partner have been together, the benefits of a regular and refreshing date night can do your relationships a lot of good. Especially if you can come together mindfully and mentally ready to focus on nourishing your relationship.
Mindfulness can be one of the loveliest gifts partner’s give each other. The practice of being present can help you get the most out of your date nights. Finding ways to remain aware and in tune with each other will fuel a deeper sense of connection, confidence in your bond, and anticipation regarding upcoming dates.
Enjoy an overall boost in your individual enjoyment and the wellbeing of your relationship. Consider the following ways to incorporate mindfulness in your date night routine:
Know Yourself & Elevate Your Energy
Pay attention to your emotions, attitude, and energy. They directly impact your enjoyment, ability to engage and mutual experience.
If you are feeling frustrated with your partner or are overwhelmed by work responsibilities, the date will probably not go well.
Take some time before the date to be quiet and still. Observe the tension in your body and the flow of your thoughts. Breathe deeply and allow the negative energy to dissipate. Inhale calm, exhale negativity. Concentrate on the positive aspects of your relationship. Let go of negative self-talk.
You may even want to track your emotions and thoughts with a journal. The practice of being honest with yourself fosters an increased tendency to be open and honest with your partner. The better you know and understand yourself, the better partner you can be.
Practice Present, Conscious Communication
Date night is an excellent opportunity for meaningful, mindful conversation. Use the time to get a clear picture of your partner’s feelings and needs. Try the following to support and encourage closeness and caring interaction:
Ask questions like, “how do you feel right now?” and “what do you need from me?” Really listen and consider the responses with interest and compassion.
Avoid making assumptions or passing judgments about each other’s perspectives. It’s easy to think you know your partner so well that you can read their mind and emotions without much effort, however this practice can lead to shallow connection over time.
Instead, be intentional about taking the time to be curious and observant of your partner’s passions, needs, and perspectives. Put away your smartphones and other distractions to focus in.
Expand your Options, Take your Time & Pay Attention
To truly enjoy date nights, slow down and pay attention to the moments you’re sharing. This is often better accomplished by choosing dates that are less passive and more prone to active engagement.
Fewer movies and more dancing, visits to an art museum, or picnics along a hiking trail will give you opportunities to enjoy one another. You can see each other in new ways, observe each other in various contexts, and continue to learn about each other’s preferences, hidden talents, strengths, and weaknesses.
Set Reasonable Expectations, Relax, and Enjoy!
Often partners don’t recognize that they have overblown expectations for the one night they set aside to connect. While date night is great for the emotional health of your relationship, don’t put too much pressure on yourselves or each other to solve all the unresolved issues of your union. Allow date night to be a tool by keeping the following in mind:
Don’t try to accomplish too much. Reserve this time for connection and refreshment of your relationship. Enjoy the date for what it is and move forward.
Balance your expectations. Go on your date expecting to have fun and deepen your friendship. Share your wants and needs but don’t make demands. Keep communication open and supportive.
Smile, laugh and play together.
Let the date ebb and flow easily. Don’t focus on controlling each other or the activity. Make space to relax and see where the date takes you.
Take Time to Reflect
After your date nights, take some time to reflect on your time together. Use your journal to reflect personally. Share with a therapist as a couple. Reflection and sharing with an objective counselor can provide insight and improve your connection, shoring up the foundation of your relationship as you go along.
Date nights are only meaningful if you and your partner are actually engaged and intentional about tuning in mentally, physically, and emotionally. Use mindfulness to take care of yourselves and refocus on each other. The more self-aware, relationship conscious, and curious you can be, the more enjoyable your date nights will be, and your relationship will blossom.
Jill Baumgarner, MA, LPC Intern, works with couples and individuals at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Jill specializes in helping couples restore intimacy and communicate effectively with one another about feelings, needs, and desires. To schedule your appointment with Jill, contact her at (512) 270-4883, ext. 108, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.