There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to relationships – in particular what it takes to have one. There seems to be a disconnect that if the two people are growing, somehow the relationship stays static. It doesn’t.
And one of the best pieces of advice you’ll hear is ‘keep dating.’
Ed and I make sure to keep having little outings to ourselves to keep it special, and times to step away from current events and our busy work lives to catch up with each other. If we’re going to both be continually growing, let’s do it together.
So, in honour of Valentine’s Day coming up – here’s a few examples from our lives of just small little ideas to do on a regular basis to keep the relationship strong and keep in touch with each other – and why it’s so important.
The easiest two things, we find, are to go out for dinner or take a long walk. The latter is obviously more affordable and easier to do – it provides us an escape from the house and the usual lives to chat as we wander. It’s a good way to catch up and get some literal fresh air. Inspiration comes to you and perhaps, hey, a little spontaneity (we often go with the dogs, so admittedly we’re on their whims). But the latter example is more date like. Even a simpler restaurant can just add a bit of fancy to your life because unless you’re gourmet-chef-ing it up, or you just chose to go to a fast food place, what you eat at the restaurant is probably fancier and more expensive at home.
Both these scenarios allow for time to talk and catch up – but then also to expand. Part of being in a couple partnership is being each other’s sounding boards, so dates that allow you to escape the now and start talking about the future allow you to bounce ideas off each other – whether they will go anywhere later is up to you, they don’t have to. But just the act of reflecting and thinking through all the decisions and options is a part of growing, and doing it together helps you keep that close bond.
Going shopping or out on the town doesn’t always have to be about one person or have to hurt your wallet. A walk through a new neighbourhood, through a market, into galleries, etc, is a good way to do something different and spend time together without having to plan and spend and take up too much time. Getting somewhere new also brings up new thoughts and conversation topics, and encourages trying new things – you don’t want monotony in your life or in your relationship. Other than preventing growth, monotony can bore you and hide the good in a sea of dull; you may find yourself feeling trapped, and you’ll both be to blame. But you don’t need to go all out on trying new things, new adventures can be close at hand. Ed and I will often do ‘geek walks’ in Toronto, planning to go into our favourite game and geek stores down a certain path, but making sure to explore anything else interesting that comes up on the way, or taking a new way to get there. Or we’ll go to a mall we don’t often go to when shopping, so exploring and window gazing are a little fresher.
But the option of something bigger is also important. Something that requires planning and saving. Other than providing an escape, it’s a bonding practice that requires you to work as a team to not only get through it, but to make sure you enjoy your time and come back happy. Having important discussions about likes and dislikes, anxieties, and bigger topics like finances or even job security are important for maintaining trust, as well as staying on the same page. And as partners, you should know where the other stands. Although Japan is obviously the most obvious example for Ed and I, there’s also things like our trips to places like Hamilton (a couple hours from us) that require time management or our Christmas shopping trips to Port Perry where we have to money manage. Trips that are bigger (but not quite Japan), like we went to Niagara-on-the-lake this past fall, are obviously the ones that require the most teamwork to make happen… and get the best reward!
Dating, even after the ‘chase’ as people like to say, is important as life does often get monotonous, and we forget to have fun and grow. But most importantly we lose track of the partnership – continuing to date isn’t about keeping it spicy, it’s about respecting the partnership and treating it as the hugely important part of your life that it is – a part that takes work. Even if you adore someone and are perfectly comfortable with them, it’s important to take time to exercise the bond. Keep it strong, keep it relevant, keep it close to the heart. If you want it to grow as you grow, then you need to tend to it as you tend to yourself.
Well, is that enough mushy talk before Valentine’s Day or what??