Kari Rusnak, MA, LPC,CMHC

Learn why you need to prioritize time for dates.

First of all, date nights don’t have to be at night. You can do them any day at any time; the most important thing is spending quality time while engaging in shared meaning. The Gottman Institute’s research shows that 2 hours a week devoted to dates are part of a happy healthy relationship. Here are some date night ideas that could take at least two hours:

  • Take a walk or a hike together
  • Go to a coffee shop and talk
  • Have dinner out or cook a meal together at home
  • Go to a museum or art exhibit
  • Take a class together to learn something new
  • Play a board game
  • Engage in an outdoor activity like kayaking or a sport
  • Go to the gym or workout class together
  • Go to a festival or event in your tow

Why are date nights so important?

  • Spending quality time together without distractions boosts connection. It can be rare for us to give our partners our full attention without being distracted by kids, work, chores, or our phones. On a date night the focus is on each other and the activity you do together. It’s helpful to put your phones away during the date as well.
  • This time builds positive interactions to store your emotional bank account: 5-to-1 is the ratio of positive interactions to negative in order to maintain a positive perspective. Date nights can be an opportunity to boost that ratio and have a good time together.
  • It helps you engage in activities with shared meaning, like rituals of connection. Shared meaning is the way you define and share things as a couple. Rituals of connection are things you both share and enjoy together—from a morning kiss to the way you celebrate important events to, of course, date nights.
  • It gives you time to talk about your relationship. Having time alone gives you a chance to check in about what is going right in the relationship as well as anything you need to work on over the next week. Discussing this during a date night can make these discussions feel safe.
  • You get to have fun together. Having fun in relationships is very important for satisfaction. It’s helps to balance out all of the stress and responsibility.

Get more consistent about date nights

Talk to your partner about setting up a time each week when you can spend two hours together. This can be the same time every week or you can schedule the next one at the end of your most recent date night. It can be helpful to schedule date nights like you would a medical appointment or work meeting. This makes it feel more prioritized and harder to cancel or forget about.


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