Unexpected Romantic Activities for Long-Term Couples
When it comes to Valentine’s Day and anniversaries, most couples fall into two camps. For one group, such occasions might as well be national holidays, equal parts Christmas and Oscars red carpet. These folks start planning romantic activities months in advance, making reservations, searching for the perfect outfit, and cashing out their 401(k) to pay for gifts. The more cynical group orates about the undue influence of greeting-card companies in our society. These couples tend to spend their “special day” (if you believe Hallmark) relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
No matter what kind of a couple you’re part of, the same law of diminishing returns applies. In an effort to save couples from the grips of obligatory gift-giving, inevitable disappointment, and second mortgages, we’ve put together this guide of fresh, romantic things for couples to do together that will actually bring you and your significant other closer.
If you’ve been together for around 5 years…
You can afford to take it easy.
At 5 years, you can pretty much get away with murder. You’re both comfortable enough that you’re not expecting too much—romantic activities for couples at this stage in the game usually include a quiet night in with food delivery and a box of wine.
But what if that’s too similar to your weekly date night?
Well, that’s exactly why now’s the time to shine by going with some throwback fun. Since it wasn’t so long ago, it’ll be easy to hark back to the nervous innocence of your first few dates. Try on these adorably romantic activities for size:
- Mini golf basically comes gift-wrapped with good-natured ribbing and flirty asides. Nothing gets couples chuckling like whacking an errant ball into a water hazard for the third time. It’s the perfect opportunity to relive your first date without the awkward Q&A.
- Ice skating can be a good excuse to let yourself be a little vulnerable around your partner, especially if you’re not exactly Michelle Kwan. It’s even better if neither of you are great skaters—what could be more symbolic of your lived-in love than literally holding onto each other for support?
- If you two bond more over the arts than inept attempts at sports, watching a favorite movie in high-resolution 70mm film at your local indie theater can be just as romantic. One of the most overlooked activities for couples to do together, it sends the message that being together for five years is like seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey in 70mm. The colors have more depth, the story has aged well, and the whole thing led to a giant baby. (The last part only applies if you actually have a giant baby.)
If you’ve been together for around 10 or 15 years ...
You need to be sure you’re making time for each other.
After 10 years, every cell in your body has been replaced by new cells. You’ve got different bones and different eyelashes. Both you and your relationship have evolved—perhaps new careers and kids have been added to the mix—and those 5-year shenanigans just aren’t going to cut it. Eating takeout on the couch while catching up with Netflix is probably your average Friday night.
So it’s nice to remember that, even after a decade of connubial bliss, you can still surprise each other with romantic activities. Find something new that you love to do together, like art classes. (They’re not likely to send the wrong message like, say, fitness classes might). What they will do is bust you out of your comfort zone together.
But what if you consider hobbies your own personal time to decompress?
If BYOB painting classes sound a little basic or like something your SO might roll their eyes at, don’t worry—we’re just getting started. Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to mean forsaking adventure altogether.
- Chartering a private yacht blends the excitement of the open water with the luxury of an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. And they’re more affordable that you might imagine.
- Split the difference between nautical relaxation and your enduring promise to be more active with scuba-diving lessons. Imagine spending Valentine’s Day feeling the flutter of rekindled love as you and your partner breathe underwater for the first time, making googly eyes at each other through the bubbles.
If you’ve made it to 25 or 30 years together ...
Why are you even taking advice from us? (Kidding, kidding!)
Yowza! First off, congratulations. By this point, most of these suggestions for romantic activities for couples probably seem like some clown-shoes, kid-gloves, day-one stuff. You’ve watched the sun set while learning to ride horses together, taken just about every sightseeing tour imaginable, and cycled through all the romantic activities known to man. First things first, though: do all those activities if you haven’t already and take all the romantic getaways you’ve been saving up for.
And if you have done it all?
It’s time to dust off the bucket list, pull out all the stops, and deploy whatever metaphor you use to mean really go for it. We’re talking about injecting a high-octane blend of adrenaline and oxytocin into your lives.
- Is there any better demonstration of commitment than jumping out of plane together? Yes, we’re talking about skydiving. Study after study demonstrates a clear link between adrenaline and physical attraction; people report higher levels of arousal after pulling off death-defying stunts.
- Of course, that result can arise from anything that makes you a little nervous. That means a slightly more sedate ride in a helicopter or hot-air balloon might be just as effective as bungee jumping. Add that natural high to the little burst of adrenaline released by your brain every time you see your loved one, and you’ve got a recipe for making your 30th Valentine’s Day or anniversary feel like the very first.