This month I found myself repeating the importance of romantic dates for couples. I feel sad for many people in my office. They are so busy and stressed that they don’t go out on dates or pause for even a few, short moments of connection. For years, I’ve been telling couples that they need to go out on regular, romantic dates to de-stress and get connected. I get a lot of questions about this. Typically, this one: “Why go out, if all we do is argue or talk about kids and money?” My short answer is: “Don’t talk about the stressful stuff on a date. Set an intention to be in an optimistic state, just like you set an intention to be calm in my office while we work through things.”
Romantic dates with your sweetie are as important as calling your friends and family and spending quality time with them. You have to nurture relationships for them to grow. When we do romantic things for our partner, early on in getting to know one another, we are trying to capture their attention (or capture them), letting them know they are important to us. Frequently, after we’ve succeeded, we slow down, or stop the momentum of romance. Why? The answer is scarcity. We put energy and focus into things we don’t have; scarcity drives us. Relationships are no different. When we are first getting to know someone, we find a lot to like them. When we imagine not being with them or not having the feelings we have when in their presence, we feel the scarcity, so we pursue them. Once we have them in our lives, we no longer feel that scarcity and then we incorrectly assume that we no longer need to show how important they are (of course, they often become really important again when someone at their office starts to flirt with them).
We must continue to show interest in our partner. Not the type that asks how their day went, but the sweet, tender interest. Things like: candlelight dinners, running a bath for them, bringing home flowers, writing poetry, etc. The Internet is full of ideas that are romantic. Just go searching, because it doesn’t matter what you do, but that you do something. It’s really true that it’s the thought that counts here. Just show interest. It conveys love and nurturing and romantic intent. What captured our attention in the beginning was the experience of being special and pursued and this is what keeps things exciting and interesting in the long-term.
So, romance is really just letting your partner know that they have been in your thoughts throughout the day. Making a sacred time for just the two of you ensures the importance of your relationship, each and every week. Weekly dates can be like re-affirming your wedding vows.
Once again, many thanks to my clients that allow me to let this material bubble up while in their presence. You all challenge me to be a better therapist.
Copyright © 2005 Russell Wilkie, MFT