Want to impress your date with something other than a cookie-cutter cappuccino date? Want to try something that will make for a very memorable get-together? Then try upping the thrill factor of your dates. These extreme activities don’t just get your blood pumping because they’re physically challenging — they actually increase the chemistry you have with your companion. “The response you have to an element of danger gets processed in the brain stem in the exact same way as sexual arousal,” explains Paul Dobransky, M.D., author of The Secret Psychology of How We Fall in Love.
These adventurous activities also bring out each person’s true personality. “You both get to find out how you respond to fear, spontaneity, and frustration; you’ll have to compromise and work together, too,” says Dr. Dobransky. That accelerated insight can speed up a budding bond (or help you realize sooner rather than later that there’s no “there” there for the two of you).
Sold yet? Here are five fun ideas to start planning. “Just don’t get so heavy on the physical aspect that you forget to actually get to know the person,” says Dr. Dobransky. “It’s smart to grab a bite or do something low-key afterward.” When you do have a conversation after sharing such an intense experience, you’ll take your new relationship to a whole new level.
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Super-exciting date #1: Drive each other up a wall at an indoor rock-climbing gym
You’ll scale new heights of accomplishment during a rock-climbing date for two at an indoor gym. You’ll start by learning how to tie the right knots, secure your harness, and work the device that keeps your date safely suspended by ropes while he or she is climbing. An ascent that looks easy can become a whole other story when you’re twenty-odd feet above the floor, scared and sweaty, and forced to rely on your partner for some old-fashioned, “You can do it!”-style support. Getting up and down the wall requires a steady back-and-forth of climbing commands. “Even as you’re enjoying the fun physical activity, you’re learning to develop communication with the person, which is fundamental to any relationship,” says Bill Baer, climbing gym director at Manhattan Plaza Health Club (www.mphc.com) in New York City. “And not only do you build trust in your partner, but you trust yourself to do things properly for the other person.” Oh, and the view from the ground of your date’s posterior ain’t bad, either. To find a climbing gym in your area, visit www.indoorclimbing.com.
Super-exciting date #2: Rush into a round of roller derby
Athletic, take-no-prisoners types who want a down and dirty date option need look no further than a roller-derby lesson or game. “It’s such a physical, exciting sport that people play really passionately, and that spills over into how you feel about your teammate,” says Tim Patten, manager of the Bay City Bombers, a roller derby league in San Francisco. The rules of roller derby are basically this: two teams of five players skate around a rink. At the signal, one player breaks ahead and attempts to skate laps around the members of the other team. A point is awarded for every opposing skater he or she passes. The scorer’s four teammates can skate in strategic formations to try to help him or her blaze past the opponents. What could get your heart pounding more than high-speed cardio when you’re trying to help your partner score points? To find a roller derby facility in your area, do a search for “roller derby” plus your city. If no classes are offered, email the team’s coach or trainer and ask about a private session.
Super-exciting date #3: Make a splash with a whitewater rafting expedition
When it comes to daytime summer adventures, whitewater rafting may just be the ideal sport, since you’re surrounded by nature and cool, rushing waters. With no phones or bikini bodies to distract anyone, you get to focus all of your attention on your date. While the wild waters may seem high-octane, what surprises many rafters is just how relaxing and romantic the experience can be for a couple. “The guides are really in charge, so your challenge is to let go and actually take in the unique settings and sensations,” says Arlo Tejada, marketing director of Sheri Griffith Expeditions (www.griffithexp.com) in Moab, UT. “It’s exhilarating — and the sunsets are unbelievable.” If that’s not a recipe for romance, we don’t know what is. To find a whitewater rafting outfitter in your area, visit www.americaoutdoors.org.
Super-exciting date #4: Spread your wings at an indoor skydiving facility
For a futuristic-sounding dose of fun, go weightless in a wind tunnel at an indoor skydiving facility. “It’s a sport (not a ride) since you’re actually floating, but there’s no way to lose,” says Rusty Lewis, manager of Skyventure Colorado (www.skyventurecolorado.com) near Denver. “It’s such a unique experience that you’re sure to bond when you share it with someone.” Over the course of about 90 minutes, you’ll be trained in flight poses and hand signals, get outfitted up, and then take a couple of minute-long sessions in the flight chamber. Compared to outdoor skydiving, floating in a wind tunnel requires just a fraction of the training and money for the exact same amount of free-fall time (and zero panic about that whole parachute-not-opening thing). Yet it’s so exciting, you’re liable to feel like you’re walking on air long after you’ve left the facility. Can you ever go back to dinner and a movie again? To find an indoor skydiving facility in your area, do a search for “indoor skydiving” plus your state.
Super-exciting date #5: Take the bull by the horns
Everyone loves a cowboy (or cowgirl), which is why rodeo lessons are a great outdoor undertaking for couples. “It’s just such a unique activity,” says Kim McGhee, owner of KB Horse Camp (www.kbhorsecamp.com) in Hahira, GA. She suggests a day of horsemanship lessons or barrel racing — i.e., weaving in and out of barrels on a horse — to polish up your riding skills. More advanced equestrians can learn how to jump bareback or goat-tie animals. To find lessons in your area, do a search for “rodeo school” and/or “horseback riding lesson” plus your city or state.
Caitlin Ascolese is a freelance writer in New York City.