When newly in love, there is no need for "date night". Every conversation sipping frothy cappuccino, every stroll hand-in-hand by riverside, even mundane tasks like grocery shopping, are infused with romance and the promise of eroticism. Will he or won't he touch me? Does he feel the heat between us? Could he ever, possibly, be mine?
The dance of courtship, of longing, new discoveries and sexual obsession, is what scientists refer to as limerence—falling in love. During the first months or years of a romance, sexual desire peaks, not only because we're getting to know the most darling, amazing, person on earth, but because of the chemicals—dopamine, noradrenaline and testosterone—that surge through our bodies. But, friends, love like this doesn't last; it's not meant to. If humans were in a constant state of falling in love, civilisation would be in ruin. Who would ever show up at work? Let's stay in bed instead…
For those of us less enchanted, we laboriously pull out "date night" in an attempt to salvage even the tiniest inkling of goodwill. We are trying to like each other, forget bang each other. But seriously. Although "date nights" may seem contrived, cheap even in comparison to infatuation, they are crucial to relationship satisfaction and survival within the confines of long-term monogamy. Otherwise, what is couple-hood? Doing chores together everyday?
Some couples find date night, well, un-fun. Boring, or secretly disappointing, or they are unable to shrug off that subliminal pressure that the night should be a certain way, romantic or exciting. So change the game. As a rule, activities are better than sitting beside each other at a restaurant over-eating … and a lot more memorable.
One soon-to-be married couple that I spoke with "alphabet date". In turn, they plan date nights for each other in alphabetical order. If you can double up or triple letters, all the better. For instance "D" might be going to a dance class, followed by dumplings. Or "E" could be eating enchiladas, a walk on the esplanade, then moon-gazing at the Eureka tower. Cute, right?
Date night for hubby and I, (stats: dating three years, married 10, children two) occurs about every six weeks. Typically it goes something like this:
4:39 Crap! War cry: "The babysitter's going to be here in 20 minutes!" Tidy house, select kids dinner items and place them on kitchen counter with quickly penned note outlining their sleep routines.
4:51 Shower. Hair. Lipstick. Dress. Shoes (chosen for comfort rather than sex appeal.) Keys. Yell at husband to get bloody ready.
5:01 Greet babysitter. Rush out of the house with the taste of euphoria in my mouth.
5:02 As we walk to St Kilda exhaustion washes over me. It was, after all, a long day.
6:00 Have drink at bar. This is nice … Hubby really rather handsome.
6:30 Find Chinese massage place. Husband and I undress and lie down side by side, as elderly gentlemen begin working on our knots.
7-8:00ish Dinner. Happy. I don't have to do the dishes. We hold hands and say clever things. Very pleasant.
8:30 Stroll to ice cream shop. Both choose salted caramel. Walk home by the beach, stopping every so often to kiss under the stars.
9:00 Arrive back at house, shared jokes, feeling frisky. Pay babysitter a lot of money. Retreat upstairs, to our room, ready to …
"Muuuuuum? Is that you?"
Exchange murderous look with hubby. They're still f--king up.
9:15 Flannel pyjamas. "What do you wanna watch on Netflix?"