The rush you get on the Uber ride to the restaurant, or when you first see your SO walk in. The excitement of checking out that new tiki bar together. The thrill of not knowing what your boo will be wearing, or where your night will lead after dinner. Of course, what I’m describing may sound like a distant memory now — date nights in 2020 and 2021 look far different from those in 2019 (oh what a difference a year can make). But if you’re wondering how to build anticipation before a date night in with your partner, I have good news. It’s totally possible to make your time together still feel special, even if you are just having a home-cooked meal for the 50th time.
"Couples don’t have to leave their homes to keep their connection strong with their partner, it just takes a little more creativity and thought," Maria Sullivan, dating expert and vice president of Dating.com, tells Elite Daily.
Amping up the anticipation depends on two key elements: surprise and novelty. And whether you know it or not, there are lots of ways to cover those bases even when you’re just hanging at home. It may require a little creativity on your part, but I promise, the effort will be well worth it — by building anticipation, you’re re-igniting the spark in your relationship and triggering that flood of good feels you used to get during the earliest stage of dating. Here are some ideas that will have you counting down the minutes until your cozy date night in.
Set the mood the night (or morning) before.
One aspect that can make date night thrilling is spending time with your partner in a different setting — which is why you may feel a little more jazzed before going to check out a new gastropub than you do just having drinks at home. That said, you can make your digs feel different by making a few decorating tweaks.
The night before or the morning of your date, transform your space into a more romantic venue by setting up some candles, laying some scarves over the lampshades, or draping luxurious blankets over the furniture or even on the floor. Every time you walk into that room leading up to your date, you’ll no doubt get a surge of excitement for what’s to come.
Keep the plan under wraps.
One of the easiest ways to build anticipation is to keep the date a mystery. Whoever takes charge of the planning can leave the other partner subtle clues throughout the day or week leading up to the date. You might even come up with a prize if the person happens to guess what you’re doing.
Scheme together ahead of time.
On the other hand, if you want to make the planning experience more collaborative, consider picking a new recipe out of a jar together that morning so that all day long you can drool over the evening menu. Or, at breakfast time, take turns coming up with one item you’d like to add to the itinerary, such as a movie you’re dying to watch or a game you want to try playing. Sometimes, knowing exactly what’s in store is enough to rev up your excitement all day long.
Send flirty texts.
Even if you live together and you’re both working from home the whole day leading up to your date night, you can still ramp up the excitement by firing off a flirty text. Whether it’s just a quick note to let your boo know how much you’re looking forward to it, or it’s a racy message that details what you’d like to do together later, these little exchanges will surely have you daydreaming about your date night all through the workday.
Get ready in different parts of the apartment/house.
"Treat date night at home as if you were on an actual date," says Sullivan. "Get dressed up for your significant other, bring them flowers or their favorite bottle of wine. The more effort put into a date night the more special it can become."
When you meet your partner out somewhere, there’s a certain thrill that comes from not knowing what to expect. Will they be dressed up? Will they be wearing that scent you adore? Will they have done something different with their hair? Fortunately, you can totally re-create that experience at home, even if you do live together. All you need to do is get ready for your date in different rooms. That way, when you meet up in the kitchen, the living room, or wherever your night begins, you’ll get that same rush when you see them for the first time.
Pick out something you want each other to wear.
On the day of your date, take a peek in each other’s closets and pick out something you’d love to see each other in — whether it’s some special occasion intimates or an outfit you think they look snack-worthy in. Then, all day long, you have the perfect image of your partner to fantasize about.
Make a get-ready playlist.
A study conducted by Montreal researchers found that as subjects listened to playlists of their favorite songs experienced a rush of dopamine in two places in the brain: the dorsal and ventral striatum, which tend to light up from pleasurable stimuli. Researchers also discovered that listening to their favorite music caused an “anticipatory effect,” similar to a Pavlovian response of excitement. Meanwhile, a Deezer study revealed that there are specific songs that may get you in the mood for sex.
So, clearly, it’s well worth putting together a fire playlist to listen to while you’re prepping for your date night at home — whether that means showering and putting makeup on, or exfoliating your skin and giving yourself a mani-pedi.
Maria Sullivan, dating expert
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