Creative, Playful Dates…Try One a Week

You have a first date coming up and you want to make a great first impression.

Sure, you could do the traditional coffee date or the cliche dinner, but that isn’t going to impress anyone. If you want to impress the shit out of your date, it’s time to get creative.

Have An Art Picnic

Bring some colored pencils and those adult coloring books with you on a picnic. You’ll get points for coming up with a unique twist to a picnic, as well as your food choices. Speaking of which, don’t choose anything messy. Finger foods are best.

Take A Cooking Class

Not only does a cooking class give you something fun to do, it also shows your date that you’re good at following directions. That means you’ll follow directions elsewhere, like the bedroom.

Go Shopping For A Relative

Nothing melts a woman’s heart like showing how much you care about your family. Make a point to stop and buy something for your mom or sister. Ask for her help picking it out. You don’t need to have the entire date be centered around this, but if you’re walking through downtown, stop in a shop along the way “spontaneously.”

Play Games

If your date is on the nerdier or nostalgic side, head to the arcade. It gives you something fun to do. Plus, you’ll impress your date by showing that you can be a good sport if you lose at air hockey.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Let’s Get Closer: Top Ways to Connect With Your Partner When the Winter Weather Outside is Frightful

You know the rest of the song. “But the fire is so delightful. And as long as you love me so, let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!”

Sure, cuddling by a warm fireplace sounds all comfy and cozy during the holidays, and during the cold winter months. But what about dating tips for once Christmas and New Year’s is over? What about when it’s January, February, or the dreaded month of March, when it feels like it’s been freezing cold and snowing for 15,000 years, and the romance of the fireplace has worn off but your love hasn’t. What then?

Here are some fun and unique dating tips to stay connected to your partner, on those days and weeks when you are stuck inside. This list of fun and sometimes sexy activities will be so fun, you might be begging for more snow in April!

It’s time to have a snowman contest:

Anyone can go outside and build a snowman. Why not make it extra fun and unique? Try making it a contest, with a theme.

You have an hour to build your own snowman, and the best looking one wins. Build them side by side, and when you are finished, take a picture to post on social media. Let your friends vote on the winner, and then make a private bet for what the loser has to do to make the winner happy. Later on. In bed.

To put a twist on this, part of your contest could be a themed snowmen, such as “celebrity snowmen,” or making a Snowman that looks like your partner. This could provide plenty of laughter and lots of amazing memories for years to come.

You can create intimacy through music:

This is something that my partner and I do quite often, and each time, it is surprisingly moving, as well as an intense way for us to connect.

We choose 3 songs each (you can choose one to start, if three is too many), and we bring them to the CD player and play them for the other person.

We find songs that remind us of each other, of our love, or of something we want to express to one another in that moment. We take turns playing them for each other, with a short explanation of why we chose that particular song.

Some of them are silly, funny, romantic, or sweet. Others might be very deep, with profound lyrics that have a lot of meaning to us.

Everytime we do this, I feel like it brings us closer, and it also helps us learn a bit more about each other, through music.

You can do this in your living room, bedroom, or even in your car, while taking breaks from kissing.

Christmas couple in love of sexy man and woman

Try making a sexy new recipe together:

Any couple can cook together, but when it’s as cold as a freezer outside, and your hands feel like popsicles, it might be fun to find new ways to be together in the kitchen.

If one of you is a great cook and the other isn’t, perhaps a cooking class with a favorite dish is in order. You can cook it together and then have dinner together with some romantic ambiance.

If both of you can cook, but you’re sick of eating the same meals over and over again, this is the perfect opportunity to try something new and different.. Take to the internet, look up some unique and fun recipes, and pick something special to attempt cooking together.

If it’s a hit, you’ve got a new meal to add to your repertoire. If it’s terrible, you have another great new memory together, and another reason to laugh with one another.

Watch stand-up comedy clips and laugh all night together:

Laughter is one of the absolute best ways to connect with another human being, especially someone that you love. Genuine laughter often leads to feelings of intimacy, which leads to teasing and back and forth banter with delicious flirting madness.

When my partner and I are giggling together over something silly, it almost always turns into more hugging, more kissing, and more of everything else. Trust me on this.

Being mostly homebound for weeks at a time, due to freezing cold or icy weather, can lead to a lot of movie watching. This time,  forget the movies. Put your TV on YouTube, or Netflix, and finding some short comedy specials, or clips of favorite or classic stand-up comedians.

You can take turns at the remote, introducing a new comedian to your partner, or re-sharing a classic Carol Burnett sketch that maybe they haven’t seen. Going to sleep at the end of the day, after having just laughed a good amount, is a pretty great feeling.

Try to brave the cold and take a ski lesson together:

Not everyone lives near a ski slope, but if you are reading this article, you probably live in an area that has cold weather or winters. Have you ever tried skiing? It’s one big  opportunity for laughter.

Skiing is fun, but it’s not easy. Taking a first-time lesson together on the beginner bunny slope with an instructor teaching you how to stand up and then move, can be fun and silly time. You can reward yourself afterwards with some hot cocoa and brownies or cookies back at home.

Another option is to find a local skating rink or hockey game. Any kind of one-time class can be a fun adventure to do together, and another way to stay clear of doing “the same old things.”

If you can’t go outside, try something new in the bedroom:

What better time to spice up your love life, than when you are stuck inside together during cold winter months? Having a lot of intimate time is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it can become  repetitive.

A cold winter’s day is a perfect time to sit down with your partner, and each of you can share a fantasy you might like to try. Or, if you are too shy to tell each other, write down ten fantasy scenarios, put them in a bowl and pick one out. You can write two or three that are “real” fantasies and and the others can be fakes.

You can take turns reading them out loud, and try guessing which ones are the actual fantasies your partner wrote down. The next step is making them happen!

This can be another super fun way to get close again, turn each other on, and to keep discovering new things to love about your partner.

It’s certainly cold out there, but, baby, we’ve got a lot that we can dodo!!!

For more articles about dating tips check out, 15 Sexy Holiday Dates to Get You in the Mood This Festive Season or 10 Signs Of A Healthy Relationship According To Experts.

6 Ways to Escape a Not-So-Great Date Right Now

The planned escape phone call is old. So, here are 6 things you can do to end a not-so-great date before you’re out an entire evening.

On my most recent date I got to the bar early and ended up having a phenomenal conversation with the bartender. After he asked me to describe myself in 3 words, inquired about likes/dislikes in liquor he made me a custom cocktail. It was delicious. So was he.

When the guy I was meeting walked in I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to talk to the bartender any more. Double damn, my date wasn’t my type and this was going nowhere fast.

But I liked the bartender so much and was curious about what else he would make me. So I ordered a second drink. My date was a good conversationalist so it wasn’t torture to sit there longer. But a second drink probably sent mixed signals to my date and resulted in my being there longer than I wanted to be. Especially when my fantastic bartender ended his shift.

That date got me thinking, I need to have some strategies for ending a date early. And if you’re trying to cut through the noise and speed up your dating success, join as a member of LOVE TV.

bad date

1.   Don’t order a second drink

Yep, I messed up on this one. Not ordering another drink is a subtle signal that you may not stick around for much longer. Hopefully he will follow suit but you can’t guarantee that. Which brings me to my second tip.

2. Always bring cash

It’s nice to be able to toss a ten and a few ones (or more if you did go for that second drink) to cover your costs and get out of there without having to wait for a check. To use this strategy, you may want to couple it with one of the following excuses.

3. Your dog is mad at you

Or maybe he’s peeing on your favorite rug. Animals are a great excuse, even if you don’t have one. Maybe you’re dog sitting? “I would love to stay longer but Fido’s had a long day at home and I need to take him for a walk or suffer the consequences.”

4. Uh oh, tomorrow is Thursday

You just remembered that you have an early conference call tomorrow morning and you need to prep for it. Or it could be your early day with your trainer.

5. I’m meeting a friend for dinner

It’s best if you had this one built in from the start of the date. But maybe a reminder popped up on your phone when you had totally spaced it. Oops!

6. It’s pumpkin time

You could also go the route of classy and honest. Instead of making up an excuse, just tell them that it was nice to meet them, but you’re ready to head home for the night. Keep it simple and truthful; it’s actually easier than making up a lie.


Remember that bartender? I’m headed back there with a friend to find out if our conversation was a fluke, he’s just a really good bartender all around, or if there really was a spark.


My Dating and Relationship History Plays like a Spotify List

Sometimes, my dating and relationships history reads like a Spotify playlist.

From Mariah Carey’s “Butterfly” in seventh grade to Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” and everything in between, songs in my life have the power to transport me to romantic memories both good and bad. Music has such a nostalgic quality in our lives that I set out to examine it when it comes to love.

Here is my journey of songs that mean a lot to me.

“Butterfly” by Mariah Carey

kate oczypokRemember in The Notebook when all it took was the memory of the piano for Allie to have just a glimpse of the past? There are hints that music can help dementia patients remember, as this article states. For most of us with healthy brains, the article quotes a professor of neurology saying that music is a “very, very vivid way of reanimating memories.”

Cue 20 years ago, during a seventh grade dance. Before fast Internet and iPhones, junior high dances were the place to be. I had gotten all dolled up in my best butterfly clips and Lane Bryant jeans and brightly colored shirt and hoped my crush would dance with me. Miraculously, later that night he approached me during a song I could only identify as Mariah Carey’s voice. After having to ask the DJ the name of the song, I figured out it was called “Butterfly.”

Needless to say, I spent the rest of junior high completely obsessed with butterflies. I wouldn’t let my parents tear down the ugly ‘70s butterfly print wallpaper in my room from the old owners in our house. I was drawn to every t-shirt that had butterflies on it. My first email address was I was so obsessed with the memories of a song that I tried to hold onto it as much as I could.

The following year, I found out that my crush had just asked me to be nice—he really didn’t have any interest in me. I was devastated back then, but now I always look back on those “butterfly years” fondly.

“Let it Be” by The Beatles

let it be

This one still has a bit of mixed emotions as far as memories. I was visiting an ex-boyfriend in Chicago one summer and after a night at the Navy Pier, he asked if I wanted to head back to his apartment to watch fireworks. He was in a gorgeous rental that his parents had found for him with floor to ceiling windows. I of course agreed, imagining the spectacular view of the pier from his window.

We tore off our sweaty clothes, still damp from the humid July air. As I snuggled into his bed in my underwear, he asked if I wanted some music on. I said sure, why not? We were listening to The Beatles when all of the sudden the sky just lit up in beautiful color. Listening to “Let it Be” that night while the fireworks exploded from the pier in front of us was absolute perfection. Everytime I hear that song I think of this moment, then later, another moment comes to life.

That same boyfriend had just broken up with me. I was working at a Starbucks near Capitol Hill in between covering events for my old job. “Let it Be” came on their radio and I remember tears just coming and coming. I was unhappy that I was newly single on top of being stressed about the uncertainty of whether or not I’d have my job in the next six months.

This song contradicts a finding in a BBC article that its often pop music that brings back memories from times in our lives. While The Beatles are arguably pop, they were purposefully put on by someone, making it more of what the article calls a “reminiscence bump.” Classic hits take us back to our teens and 20s, especially important times in our lives. This makes sense, given I was 26 at the time.

Forever” by Chris Brown

Chris Brown’s personal life aside, I’ve loved the song ever since The Office parodied the original viral video in their Jim and Pam wedding episode. While this song doesn’t evoke any romantic dating or relationships stories, it always makes me recall when my two best friends and I would get together to watch The Office on Thursday nights.

Sometimes my boyfriend and their girlfriends would join us, or we’d extend the group to other friends. More often than not, it was just the three of us. It was a time in my life I felt protected and loved by two very good friends. There was no drama, it was just the three of us, 20-somethings about to conquer the world. Oh and side note—I also still really miss The Office.

“Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars

just the way you are

This is one of my more recent musical memories. My current boyfriend and I had just celebrated our first anniversary and we were at the wedding of two of my best friends. It was a magnificently romantic night at one of Washington, D.C.’s most splendid buildings. We were out on the dance floor, him doing what I like to call “the white man’s overbite” (thanks When Harry Met Sally!) and me laughing with friends. When Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” came on, we both looked at each other as couples started pairing off. We found each other and started slow dancing. I remember hanging on every word Bruno sang that night and as we were forehead to forehead, I secretly hoped that our wedding would be next.

Moving Forward

It looks like recalling memories through music won’t be a phenomenon that’s going away anytime soon. In June 2018, the Grammy Museum announced they would award $200,000 in grants to 14 recipients in the U.S. and Canada for research and support on topics like how neural integration through music helps long-term memory.

What are some of your favorite songs from your past?

Want to read more on music and love? Check out this piece about the benefits music has on sex.


Financial Questions to Ask Your Partner at Different Stages of Your Relationship

Financial questions to ask your partner at every stage of your relationship

It’s no secret that money can cause tension in a relationship. Couples clash on spending, debt, and financial philosophies all the time. That’s why it’s important to talk about finances with your partner often and make sure you’re on the same page.

The only problem is that talking about money can be stressful for a lot of people.

Some might be embarrassed about their finances and have a hard time opening up. Others might think that talking about money is unpleasant, so might avoid the tough questions.

While leaving some things to the financial imagination is okay at the beginning of a relationship, as you start to get more serious with a partner, it’s important to know their financial background (and spending habits) and it’s important that they know yours too. Together, you’ll create a good foundation for understanding and be able to help each other reach financial goals.

To help start the conversation, here are some questions you should ask your partner, and yourself, at each stage of your relationship.

1. Just dating: What do you like to spend money on?

Everyone has at least one hobby or interest that they probably spend a little too much on.

For me, it’s education. I will drop serious cash on classes and books and conferences to hear certain speakers. I love learning new things and I know that if I have some extra spending money, I’ll have no problem spending it there. For some people, their “thing” is getting detailed tattoos or going to concerts. Others are really into makeup or video games and like to spend their cash on getting the latest and greatest.

It’s important to know, early in your relationship, what thing (or things) the person you’re dating likes to spend money on.

Understanding your partner’s habits will give you an expectation so you’re not blindsided when he or she keeps dropping hundreds of dollars on model airplanes or fine wines. It won’t feel like financial irresponsibility so much as a investment in one of your partner’s interests and financial priorities.

Plus, if you find you have the same interests as your partner, it could give you an opportunity to bond.

I have one friend who loves dogs (and even has four pups at home). She’s never been afraid to spend money on her pets and has been known to drop hundreds (or thousands) on outfits for them, groomings, teeth cleanings, and even special dog foods. Recently, she met a guy who loves dogs just as much as she does and she was so glad to find that he understood the idea of spending a good chunk of change on a fuzzy friend’s care and well-being. It helped the two get to know each other and create a bond early.

Side note: if you’re thinking this might be an awkward question to ask on a first or second date, don’t worry, because you probably won’t have to actually ask. Usually, the answer will be pretty clear a couple dates in. If, for example, you notice your date wears a lot of designer clothes or talks about parts for their car a lot, you’ve probably got your answer.

2. New relationship: Is money important to you?

On some level, money is important to everyone. At the bare minimum, we need enough to pay the bills and buy groceries, but to some of us that’s where it ends.

Some people work just enough to be able to get by and they enjoy the freedom that comes with having just a few bucks in their bank account. Meanwhile, other people can’t stand to live paycheck to paycheck. They only feel secure when they have a heafy savings account to fall back on and panic if they don’t have at least 20k squirreled away somewhere.

Many more are somewhere in the middle: they know that making money will allow them to do things they like and they value that. They work hard at saving but aren’t afraid of a little spending either.

When you’ve been dating someone for a little while, it’s important to know how they handle money—and how that compares to your habits. Someone who is fast to spend might drive a “super saver” crazy. However, two savers together will likely fill their time with work and never spend their earnings on the fun things they deserve.

The key is to find someone who isn’t too different from you in regards to money habits, but isn’t too similar either.

For example, I probably spend a little bit more than I should—but I don’t mind spending money on a day trip or a nice dinner out if I know the experience will be special. Meanwhile, my husband is a little more frugal. He hunts for deals and is a little more hesitant before buying something he really wants. But in the end, we even each other out. He helps remind me of good saving habits and I make sure he knows when it’s okay to spend money on something really great.

3. Getting serious: Do you have any debt?

This can be a bit of a sensitive subject for some people so you should usually save the debt talk until you’re comfortable in your relationship.

The truth is that, these days, most young adults have at least some debt. They might have student debt or credit card debt, but just because someone has some extra bills to pay doesn’t mean they’re financially irresponsible.

In fact, maybe it’s a hint that they actually are good with their finances. For example, maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend needed a new car, and instead of dropping all their rent money on a fancy new set of wheels, they started making manageable payments on a sensible car.

Debt itself isn’t always a red flag. But when someone keeps spending outside their means on things that they don’t need, it can be. When someone buys a house they can’t pay a mortgage for or they rack up credit card debt with no idea of how to pay it off, that’s when it’s a problem.

When my husband and I were really getting serious, we were both lucky to not have a lot of debt. I had a mortgage and was on track to pay off grad school, while he just had some car payments. None of our debt was overwhelming and we were glad to see each other handling debt so well. We were able to talk about our plans for the future while getting to understand each other’s financial responsibilities better.

Of course, it’s easier to talk about debt if you only have a little bit of it, but even if you have a lot and bills are piling up, don’t be afraid to talk about it with your partner. The best thing you can do is make sure you talk about your debts and your plans for paying them off. As long as you’re patient with each other, and there are no secrets, you should be able to work through it.


4. Thinking about marriage: What are your long-term financial priorities?

When you get to the point in your relationship when you start thinking about marriage, you should also be talking about your long-term priorities.

When my husband and I talked about this just before we got engaged, we discussed setting aside money for travel, saving up for a bigger home, and building up our savings account before having kids. We were lucky to find that we had a lot of the same priorities.

But not every couple is so like-minded.

For example, couples who meet later in life might have other financial commitments. Maybe one person already owns their dream home, maybe the other is focused on putting their kids through college. You might not have the same exact goals as your partner, and that’s okay.

However, it’s important to know what both of your priorities are and how you’re going to work together to achieve those goals.

5. Engaged: How do you envision our banking situation after marriage?

In the olden days, married couples had one bank account that they shared. It was simple and a lot of people still enjoy this method today. However, many prefer to handle their money in a different way.

Some couples think it’s really important to have completely separate finances and to pay for things like rent and utilities 50/50. Others might like to have one large, shared account for the bills as well as two smaller individual accounts as well.

There are tons of ways to handle your finances and there’s no wrong answer to how you plan on handling your money. However, you must make sure you and your partner can agree on a method. Some like to have a little privacy on their spending (because who really cares if you spent $30 on a salad if you’re still on budget for the week?) while other couples want that full disclosure to keep each other on track. If you don’t agree on a method together, you might have to compromise or get creative.

When my husband and I got married, we combined everything and decided to simply talk to each other before spending a large amount. We’re good communicators and not big spenders, so it works great for us.

One of our couple friends has a system where they put 75% of their income into one account for their joint bills and 25% into their own separate checking accounts. They like being able to have the joint account to make bill payments easy but they also like having the smaller accounts to make sure they’re not going over budget.

Know that every couple will have a different financial situation for different reasons. It’s important to communicate with your partner and decide what’s going to work best for you.

6. Married: What do we expect each other to spend… and on what?

Once you’re married, you might have to be more involved in each other’s finances. After all, you’re legally bound to any debt your partner may accrue. But, know that since you get to be involved in your spouse’s finances, your spouse might want to have more of a say on your spending as well.

Of course, this can be challenging. When you’re single, you get to spend money on whatever you want, but once you’re married you need to work more as a team.

Consider setting a family budget by talking about how much each of you should aim to spend every day/week/month. Account for necessities (such as groceries and gas) as well as fun things (like dinners out and gifts).

My husband and I like to talk about spending on a case-by-case basis. We decided early on that if we were going to spend over $200 on something, we’d talk to each other about it first. Of course this amount will probably change as the years pass and we get more established in our careers, but we like the idea of checking in before spending a lot of money.

However, lots of couples keep their finances in check in other ways. One couple I know likes to set monthly budgets for shopping and date nights out. They give themselves just a couple hundred dollars each month for new clothes or dinners at restaurants. If they spend their whole “date night budget” in one night, they eat at home for the rest of the month. If they spend their “shopping budget” on just a few items, they don’t buy new clothes or accessories until the next month.

Of course, you’ll have to start by talking about your existing habits before you make a spending plan together. So, grab your bank statements and sit down with your partner. Talk about what you usually buy, how much your usually spend, and how you can improve your spending habits to reach any financial goals you may have.

While finances can be a touchy subject in any relationship, it’s important to communicate about money. If you can use these 6 questions to kickstart the conversation with your partner, you’ll feel more secure in your finances and in your relationship.