9 Tips for “Date Night” Newbies

If you’re read my previous post about the benefits of doing a weekly date night you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m a big fan of them! I love the romance, the chance to have a good meal in a nice restaurant, a reason to get dressed up.

And because my boyfriend and I have been doing them for almost three years now…every week…I feel like I’ve definitely got some good tips for anyone who is considering starting the date night ritual in their own relationship.

1) Keep it simple

Date nights don’t have to be an extravagant affair. If you’ve gotten used to only going out for a meal on a special occasion such as an anniversary or a birthday, then the chances are that you go all out: starters, mains and puddings…a bottle of wine…maybe even followed by drinks or the theatre.

Don’t get me wrong, that sounds like my idea of a perfect date night and if you’ve got the money and the time there’s not reason why you can’t make a big deal of it. But if you’re worried about money or time, or both, a simple date night can be just as special.

During university, my boyfriend and I kept costs down by drinking tap water instead of wine and foregoing pudding (unless it was included as part of a set menu). We’d set a budget (usually around ₤13) and choose restaurants that fitted into that budget. Some weeks we’d really want to go somewhere more special and so we’d spend more that week and less the next.

It’s completely manageable doing a date night every week if you embrace a mindset of simplicity.  

2) Protect your date night slot

It’s all too easy to not make time for your weekly date night. Maybe you’ve got a busy job, or a big family, or an endless list of chores. Life can get pretty hectic and if you’re trying to make time for the things you have to do then date night can easily be pushed aside as an unimportant extravagance…don’t fall into that trap!

Make sure you make time for your date night…every week. If something comes up, change your date night to a different day. Don’t cancel it. The romance in your relationship is at stake!

In the lead up to our dissertation deadlines in our third year of university, it became harder and harder to justify our date night. It took up valuable time that was needed for squeezing in more work. But we kept doing it every week without fail and it was the perfect distraction to the craziness of everything else that was going on in our lives.

3) Keep things fresh

It’s easy to keep going to the same restaurants you know you love and that’s fine, but make sure to mix things up and try somewhere new every now and again. While living in Bristol during university, there were always new restaurants opening and it was always exciting sampling the new places.

If you don’t live in a bustling city like Bristol, you have to be more creative to keep things interesting for your date nights. While staying with my family in Devon, our date night continues and unlike in Bristol, it’s limited to a few nice restaurants. We keep things interesting by making sure to try new things on the menu and this avoids falling into too much of a routine.

4) Keep it real

Date night is an opportunity to spend time with the person you love and it doesn’t have to be “perfect”. My boyfriend and I have had a good few date nights where one of us (or both) are feeling a bit off and we just go with it. It’s still a lovely evening and a chance to touch base on things we may be struggling with. The trick is to remember that this is an opportunity to bring more love and romance into your relationship…not more perfection and pressure.

5) Make the effort

Maybe you’ve had a long day at work and you just want to crash out on the sofa and watch a movie. Resist the urge. Always try and make an effort for your date nights. Remember that this is your one official slot for romance each week and if you want to make it special every time, then make the effort. Make sure to dress and smell irresistible and to be charming and warm and pleasant.

6) Be flexible

If you get too precious about your date night it can end up adding stress instead of pleasure to your week and that’s the last thing you want! The ideal scenario for a date night is of course to spend the evening enjoying a delicious meal in a perfect spot with great conversation and lots of romance.

It’s all well and good to aim for that each week but sometimes things don’t go to plan…the meal isn’t great or you end up being seated next to a couple who speak too loudly or you’re feeling a bit tired and stressed.

The trick is to try and see the funny side and enjoy your evening no matter what comes up. The great thing about doing date night every week is that there’s less pressure for it to be “perfect.” If things are a bit off one week you’ve always got next week to look forward to.  

7) Keep it fair

Despite all the equality in 21st Century relationships, a few sneaky gender norms are ongoing. Without getting into the serious inequalities that still exist, one that typically comes to mind for me is the fact that in the early stages of dating, there is still some expectation that the guy should pay (or at least offer to). If you’re doing a weekly date night with your partner then you should both be paying your share. Otherwise it’s just not sustainable.

Another point, make sure to keep your date night fair in other ways. Pick the restaurant together and make sure it’s somewhere that caters for both of your culinary tastes and fits into both of your budgets. If you want to get really fair, you could even alternate who picks the seat because let’s be honest, you don’t always want to be the person looking at the wall.

8) Make it a ritual

Part of what has always made date night so special for my boyfriend and I is that we have made it into a ritual. We pick restaurants that are romantic with low lighting and a good ambience, we dress nicely, we take our time, we talk about interesting topics. You can’t just go through the motions of going for a date night, you have to work to make is special.

9) Pick a day that works

Thursday was the day my boyfriend and I picked for our date night because during university it was the day that nothing seemed to happen on. All the going out and socialising and events seemed to happen on different days so Thursday was the perfect time to do it.

After we finished university, we continued our Thursday date night tradition. For us it’s still the the perfect time because it’s almost the end of the week but not quite. You’ve got to push through one more day before it’s the weekend and date night gives us the burst of energy to do it.

– Tiger Lily –

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