Meeting someone special and going out to dinner for the first time can be exciting, but after a few evenings out, the same old date idea can get, well, a little monotonous.
Maybe dinner gets dull because you run out of things to talk about or you realize you’re not connecting… but I think a dinner date can get boring because sharing a meal isn’t always the best way to get to learn a person’s complexities, personality, and strengths. You won’t learn about his or her wacky sense of humor in a fancy restaurant and you’re probably not going to swap deepest darkest secrets in a crowded café.
In order to get into the real relationship stuff, to truly bond, sometimes you have to step away from your comfort zone (and I’m not just talking about ordering that strange oyster appetizer the waiter suggested).
Whether you’re just getting to know someone, or are looking to spice it up with your long term significant other, trying a new date could be just what you need to connect on a deeper level. Here are my seven favorite spring activities to help you break away from the safety of the dinner date and get closer to each other this season.
1. Get to new heights… with rock climbing
I would specify by saying that you should take your date “indoor” rock climbing, but, who knows? It is springtime, so if you two are outdoorsie (and I mean really outdoorsie), maybe climbing in nature will be just fine.
But, no matter where you choose to go, rock climbing is a great activity to help a new couple bond. The whole date is like one giant trust fall exercise, which will help you build confidence in each other (and hopefully build confidence in your relationship).
Usually, in climbing gyms, one person will climb while the other will belay the climber with an attached rope, making sure the climber gets back to the ground safely. It requires a lot of communication and trust, which is exactly what you need to build a stronger connection.
When I went rock climbing with my fiancé for the first time, I was nervous. I’m a little afraid of heights so the idea of going up a wall was terrifying. Being held up by only a belt and one single rope made me extra unsure.
Still, being forced to put my well-being in my date’s hands really helped us build trust early on. You might even say it made our bond “rock” solid.
2. Size your date up… by going shopping
Bringing your date shopping shows that you care about their opinion and respect their taste. Whether you’re shopping for a new spring wardrobe or browsing for a new couch, taking your date to the store can be a great way to get to know each others’ styles and get a hint into what your lives might look like if you took the relationship to the next level.
When I moved into a new apartment a few years back, I took my fiancé (then boyfriend) to Ikea to get some furniture. We had a great time looking around at all of the model rooms, choosing our favorite furniture pieces, and talking about our styles.
By the end of the day we were both happy with the furniture I’d purchased: I was glad to have had someone to bounce ideas off of and he felt honored that I had cared enough to take his opinion into consideration.
Of course, if you haven’t been going out long, you’ll want to start out small: let your date help you pick out an outfit or let him or her help you pick out the menu for that party you’re planning. The important thing is that you learn about your date’s style, and let them know that you care about their preferences.
3. Get on the relationship path… with a long hike
Hiking is a great way to get in shape, relieve stress, and get in touch with nature, but did you know it can also be a great way to strengthen your relationship?
Hitting the trail together this spring is the perfect way to get some one-on-one time in a romantic, flower-filled, spring setting, but it’s also a great opportunity for you and your date to learn to support each other. Even a short hike can be difficult and learning to encourage your partner, work together, and challenge each other can do wonders for a new relationship.
My fiancé and I have been going on hiking dates since we first met and we love trying new trails and seeing how far we can go on new paths. We’ll find nearby trails, plot out a path, then, over the next few weekends, build up our endurance and challenge ourselves to get farther every week.
Between the fresh air, teamwork, good conversation, and physical activity, hiking can really get your relationship headed in the right direction.
4. Prove that you’re not just playing around… by hosting a game night
As spring really gets going, and the days get longer, your friends might want to start planning more events and parties together. This is great because group activities can be a perfect place to bring a date to see how they interact with your friends, but it’s also an opportunity to learn more about his or her personality.
One great idea is to host a game night. If you happen to choose games where you work in teams, like Pictionary or Charades, you and your mate can have fun as you practice working together. If you decide on games where everyone plays as individuals, like Monopoly or Clue, this can be a great way to see how your date reacts to competition.
Game nights will give you a chance to learn more about your date, but it will also allow him or her get to know your better through your friends. Plus, you’re both sure to have a good time hanging out together. Looks like everyone’s a winner!
5. Improve your relationship… with an improv class
Being able to laugh with a partner, and learning to understand their humor, is incredibly important to any relationship. Take this idea to the next level by attending an improv class with your date.
You’ll let loose as you giggle your way through warm-up exercises like “what are you doing?” and “zip zap zop,” then you’ll have fun creating scenes with classmates. Improv class is a perfect activity because you can impress your date with your best jokes while you bond over trying something new.
When my fiancé and I first signed up to take an improv class together, I was afraid I would look silly. Of course, I looked very silly, but I found that acting goofy was half the fun. By the end of the class we were both creating scenes and making jokes just like the cast of “Whose Line is it Anyway.” Or, at least, pretty close.
6. Avoid relationship roadblocks… by taking a road trip
I’ve heard it said that you never really know someone until you travel with them… and I’m pretty sure that whoever said that was talking specifically about road trips.
Sitting in a car, staring at nothing but billboards for hours at a time, can drive a person stir-crazy, but a road trip can also be great fun, especially if it’s with the right person.
Once you and your mate have been going out for a little while (and gotten comfortable with each other enough to commit to a weekend together) consider taking a spring break road trip. Traveling with him or her will tell you a lot about their personality. Between the way they drive, the way to the way they deal with stress or boredom, to the activities they get most excited about, there are so many opportunities to learn something new about your partner, and so many opportunities to make memories together.
You’ll always remember that crazy themed diner with the Elvis impersonator and you’ll be able to laugh looking back at the time you almost ran out of gas. You’ll treasure the pictures you took in front of the world’s biggest yarn ball and think back fondly on the time you kissed by the grand canyon.
Road trips aren’t always perfect, but they’re a great way to see what it would be like having a future with your partner, learn a little bit more about them, and create memories.
7. Wash away any dating nerves… by creating a water park
Everyone has a child-like side, but sometimes it can be hard to see it right away. Take advantage of the warming weather by building a DIY waterpark, it’s the perfect way to encourage your date to get playful and silly with you.
What might seem, at first glance, like a simple grassy backyard, can turn into a mini waterpark designed for hours of fun. Set up is easy: turn on the sprinklers, fill a few water balloons, set up a kitty pool, and get in your swimsuit.
Spending an afternoon playing in the sprinklers will definitely bring out that playful side in both of you, plus, it can open you up to great conversations about childhood memories. After a water balloon fight, you can bask in the kitty pool as you talk about that summer at sleepaway camp or bond over stories about your crazy siblings.
It’s a perfect way to see a new side of your date and connect on another level. Plus, it’s super fun.
When it comes to getting closer, these seven spring dates are just the beginning. The truth is that any activity can be a bonding activity, the key is to just be willing to try new things together. Step out of your comfort zone, share a secret, do something that seems different or even a little scary.
In the end, you and your date will learn so much about each other, and with such a strong bond in spring, you might just have an amazing relationship by summer.