Reinventing Date Night for Boomers and Others

June 7, 2009 at 6:34 am Leave a comment

CB106693Reading about and watching all the coverage of President Obama’s date night – a trip to New York City to see a Broadway play – reminded me of an article I read in the New York Times several months ago. The article, entitled “Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples,” talks about how to make “date night” – a regular evening out with friends or at a favorite restaurant – more meaningful and fulfilling.

The article’s author, Tara Parker-Pope, offers a summary of research conducted by Dr. Arthur Aron, professor of social psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr. Aron believes that couples need to design their date nights around new and different activities and not the old and familiar. The goal is to find ways of adding novelty into existing relationships.

Over the past several years, Dr. Aron and his colleagues have tested the novelty theory. In one experiment, couples were told to spend 90 minutes per week doing pleasant and familiar activities, like going to a movie or out to dinner. Couples in a second group were asked to spend 90 minutes a week doing “exciting” activities that appealed to both the husband and wife, but were not things they typically did – for example, attending concerts or plays, hiking, skiing, or dancing. A third group was not assigned to do any particular type of activity. After 10 weeks, the couples were tested about the quality of their relationships. Interestingly, those in the “exciting” date night group showed a significantly greater increase in marital satisfaction than the “pleasant” date night group.

As with many experiments, there were a number of variables that could have affected the final results, but it makes sense that experiencing fun and vibrant activities with someone you care about would result in a greater sense of satisfaction and excitement about being with that person.

So next time you and your long-time companion think about your standard Friday night dinner at (fill in your regular haunt), try something new, unusual, or adventuresome! And don’t forget to consult the City of Torrance Events Calendar – you may find a great inexpensive or free activity close by to rekindle your sweetie’s affections.

Have any great ideas for novel places in the South Bay or its environs that you’d recommend for date night? We’d love to hear your suggestions.

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