5 Dating Tips That Still Apply, Even for Couples That Have Been Together for a Long Time
Guest blog from Ryann Pitcavage of Ryann Pitcavage Coaching <3
Huh? Dating tips? But I haven’t been in the dating scene for YEARS! Plus, we’re about to get married, why would I want to know how to date?!
And THAT is exactly why you need to read this.
First things first: What exactly does it mean to “date”? What feelings and experiences do you associate with dating? Some of you may be quick to rush to the memories all of the “bad dates” you had (and don’t miss whatsoever) or the pain of past rejection and heartbreak that you’re not looking to feel again anytime soon. Or maybe you’re relieved that you don’t have to use online dating apps anymore like all of your single friends. Perhaps you feel like that chapter of your life has closed as you are moving toward your happily ever after. If this is the case for you, I’d invite you to expand your thoughts.
Let’s start by thinking back to when you and your beloved first met. This person who you’ve said yes to over and over again each day, and who themselves has done the same with you. This person, to whom you’re about to say one of the biggest yeses of your lifetime! This person you’ve been through so many life moments and changes with, who you’ve built so many memories with, who has navigated the many ups and downs of life with you. You know the one? ;)
Hop in my time machine with me, and let’s take a trip back in time.
Think back to the first time you two saw each other.
Those days, weeks, months of getting to know each other.
How interesting you each found the other… feeling like there was so much to learn about one another.
The butterflies you felt in your stomach when you’d meet up for those dates.
How much thought went into planning each date and how excited you each were for the next moment you could reunite.
The excitement + novelty, the almost “intoxication” of love that you experienced.
How you would routinely go out of your way to make really special and thoughtful gestures.
However, after we’ve been together for a while, things can start to get routine. We can start to feel like we know all there is to know about our partners. (Check out this post I wrote for more about the science behind this, if you’re curious!)
Add in any stress that goes into wedding planning, buying a home together, or planning and having a family together? And suddenly things can quickly start to feel a lot more stressful than magical.
While biology drives much of that “drunk in love” feeling we have in the honeymoon phase of our relationships that can never *truly* be replicated (and we shouldn’t pressure ourselves to feel that way!), it doesn’t mean we have to start taking our relationship or partner for granted or that we check out on making our relationship something that we’re excited to put energy into cultivating, nurturing, building, and creating.
The way I see it? Dating isn’t just the process of showing up in the world and meeting “the one”. It’s about bringing excitement and curiosity to the table. It’s about being open to learning, to cultivating a new perspective, to planning new shared experiences together. It’s cultivating that energy and mindset within that you are the luckiest soul in the world to be with this person. This means you can actually stay in “dating mode” regardless of how long you're together! (This is good news - YAY!)
Sure, as time goes on, things happen, and it ain’t always pretty! We can fight. Shared life responsibilities and big life decisions can start to fill our conversations 24/7. We start to find those once-endearing qualities borderline unbearable… and this is all totally normal! (If you haven’t already, check out the post I mentioned earlier for more on this.)
But if you’d like to learn how to date for life - meaning you create excitement, stay in a mindset of curiosity, and seek out novelty + adventure as a couple - keep reading.
Here are five tips to help you and your partner continue to date for life…
Never stop learning; believe there’s always more to learn (and that you want to!)
Find fun conversation starters or questions to ask each other (there is a plethora online… I do this all of the time with my partner and LOVE it!)
Try new activities together or activities you already like doing in a new setting or context
Be super present with them and notice ‘the small things’ that maybe go unnoticed before; challenge yourself to learn something new about them!
Share things you’re each individually excited about with one another and bask in the shared excitement
Invite your partner to try out a hobby that you enjoy if they’re up for it
Get curious about them, show an interest in wanting to learn more, rather than assuming they’re no longer worth exploring or getting to know
You get the idea...
Go out of your way to make special gestures for your partner
Bonus points for doing ones that match their preferred “love language”.
You and your partner can take this quiz to find out your primary love languages!
This can be things like gifts, planning dates or weekend getaways, leaving love notes in the house or in their suitcase, complimenting them and expressing how lucky you feel to be together, etc.
Another great idea is to have little pieces of paper cut up and a jar or basket for each of you where you can each write down ideas of what you’d like and you can pick one from each other’s basket for a sweet gesture or surprise your love is sure to treasure.
This one may seem weird, but hear me out!
Sometimes, after we’ve gotten cozy in a relationship and have gotten so used to our partner meeting many needs for us, we can forget that we can meet them ourselves, too.
Also, I find that sometimes once we get so reliant on them to meet a given need, we can feel resentful when they’re missing the mark at times.
A tip I teach my dating clients to use while dating (and that can carry through into existing relationships) is...
Date, delight, and explore yourself; this is personally empowering and keeps you in resonance with the relationship + love that you want to continue creating for a lifetime.
This also helps us really intimately get to know how to better communicate how we’d like our needs met. Sometimes, we’re not really clear with our partners about what exactly it is that we want, and when we look to meet those needs ourselves, we realize what we desire and how we desire it much more clearly.
This includes things like our sensuality and pleasure, as well. While this is a beautiful, intimate shared experience that a couple can have together, the learning never stops with ourselves, too. We can continue to better know our bodies, minds, and spirits to help one another be better partners to each other and even more in tune with ourselves.
Do the inner work!
A relationship is a beautiful, sacred container for your own growth and healing. Rather than viewing the growth and healing as something we do before we meet our match, know that having the loving presence and support of a partner to do it together can be an absolute game-changer.
Also, part of this work may be done together. There may be pieces of you that over time, come to the surface to be healed in the relationship. Seeking out the support of a trained professional can be deeply supportive - and while scary, I’ve found time and time again it brings couples closer and more deeply in love. It can also support you in cultivating deeper clarity about one another and your relationship dynamic as a whole.
Part of this is also being open to learning from everything, the day-to-day experiences, even the ‘bad’ things that happen in your relationship. It’s embracing these experiences as healing and learning opportunities rather than reasons to grow distant or create a rift.
Create your own empowering love, relationship, and sexuality narratives
There are so many rules, narratives, quotes, and whatnot about what love, relationships, commitment, sexuality, marriage, connection, etc. should look like. And even if we don’t consciously ‘buy into’ those ideas, sometimes we can unconsciously carry them around, and they impact our relationships.
Regardless of what the particular stories or beliefs may be for you, know that ultimately the narrative that works best for you may not be what works for everyone else when it comes to creating healthy, sustainable, deep love.
Even in this post here, if there’s anything that doesn’t feel empowering to your relationship, you are free to disregard. My work is to help people successfully create love, but ultimately it has to work for you and the desires you carry for partnership and love.
There is no one "right way" or "one-size-fits-all". Just because ‘everyone else’ is doing things one way doesn’t mean you have to be.
Bonus Tip: Be playful!
It can be easy to lose our sense of play as we grow older and life can feel more serious, but looking for opportunities to be more playful with one another can be a powerful element in a relationship over time. Even just making the basic day-to-day tasks more playful, light, and fun can do the trick! You don’t need to add more to your plate! It doesn’t always have to be so serious ;) I’d love to hear if you try any of these tips, and if so, how they worked for you! I’m also happy to answer any questions you may have about this post. Feel free to drop a comment below or find me on Facebook.