It takes two for a date night to be successful – seems pretty obvious, right? Well, a recent study found that both partners need to be committed to the activity on a date for it to improve the relationship. Basically, just going on a date might not yield the results you want because if one partner isn’t too excited about the activity, you might not end up with that increased connection you were hoping to achieve.
Here’s the biggest mistake you can make when planning your dates:
1. Selfish Motivations
Try to plan activities motivated by wanting to improve the relationship – like spending more time together, having the opportunity to talk, or strengthening the relationship. Or with a focus on your partner – like activities that facilitate getting to know him/her better, or doing something you know your partner will enjoy.
Maybe you’re wondering, “How can I tell if an activity will help me and my partner feel closer?” These researchers found that the motivation behind planning the activity determines how it impacts your relationship. If you want increased connection, you need to plan activities that are motivated by one of two things: helping the relationship or making your partner happy. If you plan a joint activity based on your personal interests, things that are convenient for you or you enjoy it, than your relationship quality and the closeness you and your partner feel may take a hit.
In this regard, it may not be the activity per se, but rather, why you’re planning it. Let’s say going to musicals is definitely not on your list of top 10 favorite things to do, but you know your partner loves them. If you plan an activity to go to a musical, then the impact on the relationship is different because it is focused on making your partner happy. On the other hand, if your partner plans the musical-attending activity (and he/she knows how you feel about musicals), then it is probably out of personal interest that the activity was selected, so you may not end up feeling closer at the end of it.
Why would this be the case? These researchers guessed that if a partner plans an activity for personal reasons, the other partner might feel like their needs aren’t being considered, or that they are making a personal sacrifice that goes unnoticed or is not appreciated by the partner. So, if watching a sporting event is torture for your partner, plan something that you both can enjoy and leave it up to him/her to plan that as a future activity, where they willingly do something they may not enjoy as much because they know you enjoy it.
The basic gist of this study? It turns out that selflessness in planning activities goes a long way for helping your relationship. If you consider the needs and wants of your partner or your relationship before your own, then you are likely to find joint activities that leave you both feeling closer to one another and happier in your relationship.
To find out how selfless your partner feels you’re being in your relationship and how that’s affecting your marital satisfaction, take our RELATE assessment as a couple!
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Written by: Steph