Shake Up Your Dating Life!

Are you in a romance rut of dinner-and-a-movie or “Let’s meet for a latte”? Here, new ways to inject some spontaneity (and make sparks fly to boot)!

By Matt Christensen

e all know that dating shouldn’t be filled with occasional glances at your watch and attempts to cover up yawns. But after you’ve been to all the best restaurants, movies, and pubs in your neck of the woods, what do you do to keep things interesting? Inject it with a healthy dose of spontaneity. Check out these success stories from some creative couples, and then hear why they worked from dating expert Jeff Cohen, who’s also the author of the e-book The 30 Minute Guide to Online Dating:

“We consulted a tourist agent…in our home town”
A case history: “My boyfriend and I have lived in the same town forever. It’s a great place, but dating here usually involves going to the same places over and over. A friend of mine had just gotten back from vacation and told me that the concierge at her hotel
Sure, you might think you’ve seen all there is to see in your neck of the woods, but a true professional like a tourist agent or hotel concierge may surprise you.
told her all these great places to go. I thought, ‘Why not try that in my hometown?’ So we went to a tourist center. They suggested lots of places we’d heard of and been to, but they also gave us the names of a few new restaurants and a park we’d never heard of a few towns over. We had a nice early evening in the park swinging on the swing set and then a very romantic dinner.”
—Erica Dryja, Erie, PA

Why it works: Even if you’re a native, you haven’t turned over every stone. Sure, you might think you’ve seen all there is to see and done all there is to do in your neck of the woods, but a true professional like a tourist agent or hotel concierge may surprise you. “The main benefit to this date is that you can both rediscover your city together,” says Cohen. “You might get tipped off to places you didn’t know about.”

“At the mall, we gave ourselves a mission”
A case history: “I go to the mall all the time with my girlfriend. It’s usually pretty boring. She gets what she needs, I get what I need, then we go home. One time I suggested that we split up and try to go buy gifts for each other. We gave ourselves a half-hour to comb the mall, with the budget of $30. Having a time constraint, and only being able to spend so much money, made me have to get creative. In the end, I went to one of those T-shirt iron-on kiosks and got her a shirt with my picture on it inside of a heart. She thought it was hysterical. She bought me a Larry Bird collectible action figure (he’s my favorite player), and with the money we had left over, we both got ice cream. It really was a challenge to come up with something, but it was fun.”
—Ed Lindenschmidt, Cincinnati, OH

Why it works: Orchestrating a small gift-swap creates an instant challenge. Dates like these combine the excitement of a scavenger hunt crossed with the benefits of Christmas. “When you set a budget and time limit, you force yourselves to get creative,” explains Cohen. “When you think about it, when was the last time you spent a full 30 minutes just thinking about what would make your partner happy.”

“Our ‘date-ideas’ box always keeps things interesting”
A case history: “My boyfriend and I have a trick that always ensures a fun date. We have a shoebox full of ideas that we write down for dates we want to go on; we add ideas whenever we get them. When it’s date night, we reach in and pull one out. Sometimes it’ll be a date
“To keep things interesting, we have a shoebox full of ideas for dates we want to go on. When it’s date night, just pull one out.”
I wanted to go on, like when we went horseback riding, and sometimes it’ll be one of his (pro-wrestling show). Either way, it gives us a chance to fulfill our ‘I’ve always wanted to…’ ideas, and it definitely keeps us guessing.”
—Emily Payment, Charlotte, NC

Why it works: Reaching into the unknown is a great way to keep things exciting. What’s great about this idea is that you’re potentially one pick away from either making s’mores together at home or taking a weekend getaway to a nearby city, says Cohen. “Even though it’s going to be a total surprise, the date will be something that at least one of you wanted to do at some time,” he says.

“We mixed things up by forging new friendships”
A case history: “I’ve been with my boyfriend for a few years, and a lot of our old friends have moved away. It can be sort of lonely not having other people to go out with, so we made a point of befriending some new couples. Expanding our circle of friends has really helped us come up with new places to go and people to see.”
—Christine Little, New York, NY

Why it works: Some fresh blood can do wonders for you both. Oftentimes, couples can end up in a dating rut because they’re hanging out with the same-old people—or even just each other. Try stretching past your comfort zone and bonding with new people you meet, and it can add a whole new spin to your night. Says Cohen, “The experience of you and your partner making new friends together can bring you closer together. It also encourages teamwork between the two of you. You have to rely on each other to reach the goal of meeting someone.” Plus, the new people you meet can introduce you to their favorite haunts and activities, further enhancing your romantic outings.

Matt Christensen writes for Maxim and other magazines.
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