Date night as a saying may have become a little overused, but the concept of carving out time to spend quality time together - is important, and date night is actually really key in healthy relationships. A recent survey of 3,000 people by Lovehoney found that 62% of couples regularly have date nights.
Hayley Quinn, Match’s dating expert, explains that although it sounds a bit un-romantic to schedule in a night to date our partners, it's a really smart way to improve your relationship. "For those of us who don't live and die by our Google calendar, date night may feel like a cliché. Shouldn't romance as a couple just happen organically?" she says.
"The facts are with increasingly busy lives, if you're in a committed relationship, spending quality time together may get squeezed. The early dating haze of planning fun dates together may slowly shift into nights on your sofa binge watching Netflix. Date night isn't just about hanging out together, it's about being present and really connecting and building memories. And yes that means that you should do something where your phones are firmly on airplane mode!"
Kate Moyle, psychosexual therapist and LELO sex expert says, "It is important that we nurture our relationships in a deliberate way." But she adds it's also important that date night "is not pressured or laden with expectations about having sex, as this can cause unnecessary pressure which can detract from enjoying the time together."
Hayley and Kate rightly know we're not all made of money, so going to fancy restaurants or on swanky trips isn't possible for most of us. Here are some of their best date night ideas that won't put you in your overdraft. Because date night isn't about what you do, it's about being present with your partner
Date night - Staying in
You don't have to go out to have date night. And some of Kate and Hayley's cutest date night ideas don't even involve leaving the house.
If you want to stay in, Hayley says try switching off the TV and cooking a meal together instead. "Swap up your usual go-tos for a three course meal you prep together - and yes feel free to light candles!" she adds.
Kate agrees that is a good way to get creative and move into a more playful space together.
2. Games night
If you love a low key activity, try hosting a retro games night. "Doing a puzzle, or beating your partner at Monopoly may not sound that romantic, but you'll be a lot more engaged with one another than if you had spent the evening scrolling through social media," Hayley says.
And if you want something a little sexier, you can get adult board games too, FYI.
Date night - Going out
3. Date night during the day
Just because it's called date night, doesn't mean you actually have to do it at night! Day dates are just as cute.
Hayley says, "Date night could be getting brunch together at the weekend, heading to a cool market, or taking a bike ride. Romance is after all not about how much the bill is, but about both of you continuing to make an effort to learn who each other is, even when you've been together for a long time."
4. Make a couples time capsule
Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney says making a time capsule of your relationship can be a great way to celebrate your love.
"Go through your old pictures and any other pieces of personal memorabilia - letters, maybe an email or text - that are extra special to both of you," she says. "Pick out your very favourite holiday snaps of the two of you having the time of your lives. Present each other with your five favourites and talk about why those moments were so precious."
Date night sex
Lovehoney's survey also found that 45% of couples are so busy that they schedule sex with their partner in a diary - much like date night. And, on a date night, 88% of couples usually end up having sex. Six out of ten couples have booked a hotel getaway specifically to get some time alone for sex and intimacy.
Annabelle says, “It’s vital that couples carry on maintaining intimacy even when sometimes they are not feeling particularly in the mood. How many times have you started out having sex with your partner feeling lukewarm about the idea only to warm up and really get into it. I worry about couples who get out of the habit of having sex. It is the glue that keeps all relationships strong. That is why I think date nights are a great idea.”
How to have great date night sex
5. Role play
Role play during sex could be anything you fancy, from pretending to meet as strangers in a bar and booking a nearby hotel room. "It could be you both experimenting with some new sexy outfits and acting out some fun scenarios at home," Annabelle suggests.
6. Phone sex
Phone sex may sound a bit old school, but it's a really good way to connect and be intimate. "This could be you both using FaceTime to connect sexually when you are apart. Undressing, talking dirty together and connecting even when you are on different sides of the country. It could be you swapping flirty texts ahead of a date night with suggestions as to what each of you would like to do later," she says.
7. Live out your sexual fantasies
Annabelle says date night is a great time to explore any sexual fantasies you've always wanted to try. "Each write your 10 favourite sex fantasies on post-it notes and put them in a jar. Take it in turns to pick one out every week and live it out for real," she suggests.
8. Play with new sex toys
Lovehoney's research found 90% of couples who introduce sex toys into their regular routine say their levels of sexual happiness improve. And couples with good sex lives tend to have higher overall levels of happiness.
"Start out with a simple bullet vibrator which costs as little as £13. The most popular couples’ toy for male/female couples is a cock ring - they keep the male or penis-having partner harder for longer during lovemaking and stimulate the female/vulva having partner by rubbing against the clitoris."
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