The perfect date night. Jeez! The pressure of that statement makes my back sweat! Now I’m not saying that perfect date nights aren’t obtainable, but there’s some saying my Mum mutters now and then about best laid plans … and something about them not really working out? Whatever, my point is that often high expectations lead to bitter disappointments. And bitter disappointment leads to an argument, which leads to one of you sleeping on the sofa and a ruined date night.
Before I go on, let me make it clear that I am in no way shape or form giving you a note to hand to your teacher to get you out of PE… You still have to plan a great date. But let’s take a little pressure off here friends.
Planning a great date, whether it’s your first, 5th or 50th can be exciting, romantic and, well frankly petrifying! First dates are in a league of their own. They’re like a separate species with whole archives of research, data and volumes of books dedicated to the art of them. So that’s a topic for another time.
I will assume that any date referred to from here on in is with someone you’ve a) met; b) like and c) have more in common with than Joan from accounts.
So, let’s assume that you’ve got the date in the diary. Maybe you’ve had to arrange a babysitter, dog sitter, or someone to come and keep your flatmate Marcus company for the evening while you go out and actually have a life.
Now, for a perfect date you could do any of the following…
Book a fancy restaurant (unless you can’t afford fancy. Also, McDonalds is not a restaurant.)
A guy could rock up with flowers (unless either of you has hay fever.)
Depending on which city/state/country you live it, you could arrange for a window table at a Sky View bar for after dinner drinks (unless one or both of you doesn’t drink.)
You should always make sure you’re well dressed (unless your date demands a certain uniform… And no, I don’t mean a kinky uniform… I was thinking Go Kart racing or something of that ilk.)
Moonlight at some point is preferable so always try and arrange a date around a full moon (unless one of you is a werewolf.)
Some kind of string instrument should be serenading you at some point (unless one of you prefers Heavy Metal.)
Ideally you should visit Paris (unless you live in Paris in which case, you’re just knocking around at home.)
And really there should be brilliant warm sunshine; and freezing snow; and a sunrise but you should also dance under the stars, which is tough to orchestrate in one date (unless you’re God.)
So really, it’s all a bit tricky this perfect date stuff (proper back sweat happening now!) It’s all so objective and so dependent on you and your partner and circumstances. But before you lose all hope, I can tell you this. The best dates aren’t those that push your credit limit; or have rules around what you can and can’t talk about (no kid talk, no work talk, no house talk, no gossip talk… Seriously, what do you talk about?!); or adhere to the Hollywood rules of romance.
Before I officially started studying human behaviour (and relationships more specifically), I worked through my university years and beyond in hospitality. So I’ve seen ‘dates’. I’ve seen young people on dates who spent the whole time on their phones. I’ve seen married couples eat in silence like strangers. I’ve seen old couples sit in a booth cuddling up next to each other and howling with laughter whilst holding hands. I’ve seen couples fight, storm off in the disappointment of each other, themselves and their revered ‘date night’.
Here’s the real deal about date nights. The location is irrelevant. You could book a babysitter and a posh restaurant or have a carpet picnic on your living room floor after the kids have gone to sleep. You can dress up in designer clothes or lie in bed naked. You could eat, see a show, ride a horse or take a walk. None of it matters. The real ingredient, the magic potion, the thing that makes something ‘perfect’ is how much you listen. How present you are with the one you love.
Love and romance isn’t about replicating what you see in the movies. It’s about being thankful, kind and generous to your partner. Listen when she speaks. Encourage him when he needs it. Hold her when she’s sad. Appreciate him for all he does. Understand her, but don’t try to fix her. Be present and hold that space sacred. That energy; that love; that is where your perfect date lies.