A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I went to an Argentinian cooking class in Culver City (HipCooks, if you’re in the market for a fun afternoon and a delish meal. Highly recommend!).
– – The menu (if you were wondering), was 2 different kinds of empanadas, thick cuts of steak with chimichurri, zucchini ribbons stuffed with ricotta and lemon, dulce de leche, and sangria – –
When we got there, the lady in charge had everyone–couples, BFFs, and strangers alike–gather in the kitchen and go around in a circle introducing ourselves and explaining how we came to hear about the class.
My boyfriend was up to bat first, all eyes affixed on him.
After introducing himself to the room, he casually explained to inquisitive eyes that he “hadn’t heard about the class until approximately 15 minutes ago. We’re on a date night. It was a total surprise to me. My girlfriend brought me here.”
To my surprise, the room dissolved into side conversation and questions immediately. People were genuinely shocked that we were A. on a planned date night, and more importantly that B. he had no idea up until the moment he was standing in the kitchen, apron and all, what the plan was. This blew our minds. We didn’t think that the concept of date night was revolutionary at all, especially not ours, but there we were, fielding questions left and right for the better half of the night. An older married couple approached us while we were eating our freshly grilled steak and chimichurri to ask us how long we’d been doing this for, what the rules were, and how we got it started. A shy, but sweet woman approached us–individually (so as not to ruin our “surprises”)–while we were chopping herbs to ask us what we’ve done on past nights and what things we both had up our sleeves for the next couple of months. She feverishly scribbled down all of our ideas as we spoke, explaining that she just started dating this guy and wanted to surprise him, too. Other couples chimed in their preferences for twilight concerts, movie nights in the park, or picnics when they found the time for a date in their busy lives.
I’m still really shocked that my little surprise became such a centerpiece at this cooking class. We only just recently incorporated date night into our lives after moving in together, as a simple (but potentially powerful) means of keeping things fun, spontaneous, and exciting. The rules of our date night are simple:
- Each person will take on the responsibility of date night every other month (to alleviate the stress of planning and the potential cost involved. And, ya know, because it’s nice to not have it be your responsibility all the time)
- The date has to be something that we don’t already do together in our everyday lives (to make it special)
- There is no minimum or maximum expense (A picnic of Trader Joe’s sandwiches and grapes is as fair-game as a sunset cruise and fancy wine), as long as it follows rule #2
- It has to be a surprise until the day of!
For us, this was a natural discussion when we were talking about what our lives would look like once we lived together. We knew we didn’t want to get sick of each other, and we knew that it’d take extra work on both of our parts to make sure that that never happened. Date night was one of the solutions born out of this discussion, and up until recently, I assumed that it was something that the majority of couples out there were already doing. The fact that my little cooking class was met with such surprise and awe honestly makes me a little sad. Everybody should make this a habit. Everybody deserves to plan something special for someone else, and in return have something special planned for them! Not for any particular reason, but for the sole fact that being in a relationship is a full-time job. It’s not something that you can work for until you have it and then take it for granted, like a new pair of shoes or the latest iPhone. Yeah, date night can sound kind of lame to some people. I get that. But the beauty of doing it is that it manifests differently for everybody. We like listening to music, trying new food, traveling, and trying new, random activities. For you, it could be training for a half marathon, going to the dog park on a random Sunday, or hitting the beach.
The point is, it doesn’t have to be big, or grandiose, or expensive, or well-planned. It just has to be about you, and the other person, carving out some time to spend together that doesn’t involve your routine, your work, or anything else that comprises your everyday lives. And no, I am not saying that our relationship is perfect and I am not trying to couplesplain. But I do think that everyone deserves to feel the same spark you got the first time you exchanged eye contact. I think that everyone deserves to feel loved and to want to give love in return. I’ve had my fair share of relationships that didn’t allow me to feel like I was loved, or cared for, or needed. And for a while, I thought that was normal. I’m re-learning that it doesn’t have to be that way. And I hope that can be the case for everybody else, too.
I’m excited by the idea of looking forward to planning something every other month. I already have a couple ideas up my sleeve for my next few turns…. 🙂
If you are in a relationship, what are some things that you do to keep things fun and spontaneous? Do you have your own version of date night? If so, what are the rules in your book? I’d love to hear them!