I want to spend time with my boyfriend on a regular basis. Which makes sense considering we plan on spending the rest of our lives together. The only problem is that prior to marriage, we have to be very intentional about making time for one another. Not that we won’t have to be intentional once we’re married; it will just be a little easier to do so living under the same roof.
Until then, we’re in this wonderful world of dating. Where our time together is still fairly limited and we understand the importance of making what time we do have count. The problem is that our society has led many to believe that in order to make it count, each date needs to be utterly magical and romantic every time—an idea largely propelled by reality shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. When you’re watching couples on television take helicopter rides or climb a mountain together, your movie and dinner date last Friday starts to look a little lackluster in comparison.
Now I’m not opposed to the occasional expensive dinner or a special weekend trip to go see your favorite show. I’m just saying that those occasions are the exception, not the weekly norm. In between jobs, families, schedules, and budgets, date nights are not always going to look like you think they should, or be as extravagant as what you see on TV.
And that’s okay!
Because there are countless other ways to spend time together, have an absolute blast, and spend little to no money. Here’s some personal favorites that my boyfriend and I have found:
1. Go to the grocery store or farmer’s market. You’ll both have to make a trip there at some point, why not just do it together instead?
2. Make dinner together. There’s something so nice about chopping vegetables side-by-side, working towards the same goal (delicious food), and getting some quality catch-up time while doing so.
3. Take a walk or go on a bike ride. What’s more romantic than watching the sun go down while walking hand-in-hand? Or biking under the trees together on your favorite trail? Or if you live near some good hiking spots, you can give that a try as well.
4. Driving in the car. Yes, really. I recently spent 14 hours over the course of 2 days in the car with my boyfriend as we traveled to an out-of-state wedding. Pretty sure I enjoyed the trip there and back more than I did the wedding itself… just saying.
5. Board games!! Can you tell I like this one? Yahtzee is our personal favorite, but any two-person game will do. Turn on some music and let your competitive juices flow.
6. Netflix night in. If you don’t feel like spending money on movie tickets and expensive popcorn, then make your own! And you can wear pajamas, even better. For our last movie night in, we even bought a bottle of wine for the occasion to make it a little more special.
7. Go to a local show or festival. Whether it’s a carnival, an art show, a concert in the park, or a sweet corn festival (Yes, that’s a real thing. I live in the Midwest, what do you expect?), many towns have either free or very cheap community events like this year round. And they’re actually super fun.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, but who you’re doing it with. Because when you’re with the right person, things like picking out produce or being in the car for 14 hours don’t seem so mundane. You may even find they’re the highlight of your entire week.