Intimacy for Couples Blog

A calendar page with date night written in black marker on one of the dates.

The #1 Secret to Date Nights That Create Connection

June 17, 202412 min read

Are You Part of the 52% of Couples Who Don’t Have Date Nights?

Over half (52%) of couples said they never have date nights (or only do a few times a year). But it’s known that “couples who devote time specifically to dating one another at least once or twice a month are markedly more likely to report happier and more stable relationships, compared to couples who do not go on dates as often.” ~ The National Marriage Project. 

In a recent study by The National Marriage Project, over half (52%) of couples said they never or rarely have date nights. 

But, as that same study states, it’s a known fact that couples who do have date nights at least once or twice a month are “more likely to report that they have happier and more stable relationships” compared to couples who don’t have date nights, or have fewer date nights.

I know in my own relationship, being intentional about date nights has been one of the biggest factors in building a deeper connection between myself and my partner.

So, what’s up with so few couples actually having date nights?

And what are the keys, including the number one secret, to date nights that create connection in your relationship?

Let’s talk about that…

We’ll take a look at:

  1. What “connection” is and why it matters.

  2. Why connection is often missing for couples (and what it takes to change that fact).

  3. How date nights contribute to connection.

  4. They key elements (and the #1 secret) of date nights that create a deeper connection.

  5. The main reasons that many couples don’t have date nights.

  6. The benefits of date nights.

  7. And what you can do to have fun dates and create a deeper connection in your relationship.

What is Connection & Why Does it Matter?

I define intimacy as real, open, honest, vulnerable and courageous emotional, physical and sexual interaction, exploration and communication with yourself and others that leads to connection.

Interesting, right? It leads to connection.

And I define connection as closeness and feeling seen, heard and understood by another person.

Connection is one of the biggest struggles for many couples.

It’s missing or significantly reduced for a lot of people and there’s actually disconnection, leading to feeling like disconnected roommates instead of connected, romantic partners.

It might look like:

  • Only talking about the tasks of daily life, rather than more meaningful things.

  • Not feeling seen, heard or understood by your partner.

  • Not having enough hugs, cuddles or other physical affection.

  • Not having any time for date nights anymore.

  • Or having boring AF date nights where you spend more time on your phone or in front of a screen than with each other.

Or all of the above (or lots of other things).

Connection is also one of the biggest desires that couples have for their sex lives and relationships.

Which is important because being seen, heard and understood is one of the greatest needs we all have as humans.

Not to mention the benefits from shifting the ways that disconnection might show up for you (like what I listed above).

So, Why is Connection So Often Missing for Couples & How Can You Change That?

There are lots of reasons why connection is missing for so many couples. Some reasons are:

  • Life circumstances (e.g. busyness, kids, work, stress).

  • Timing of schedules and bodies (e.g. different desires, different peak times of day, conflicting work schedules).

  • Being too tired (let’s face it … it’s more like exhaustion!).

  • Disconnection from yourself and your desires.

  • Not talking anymore.

  • No time alone together (unless it’s sitting in front of screens).

  • Not being present during sex because of all the things running through your mind that you need to do.

  • Feeling obligated to have sex because it’s good for your relationship, but not feeling connected, so feeling shittier.

  • Learned patterns of communication and relationship dynamics (like having the same damn fight over and over again or saying nothing because you’re protecting yourself out of fear of rejection).

  • And more.

The reality is that, as a result, you prioritize everything but your relationship.

  • You schedule your kid’s soccer games, birthday parties and playdates. 

  • Your next dinner with the in-laws is on the calendar. 

  • And everything to do with work is planned out and organized. 

But when it comes to your relationship, you feel exhausted AF and kind of leave it to magically take care of itself (... which doesn’t really happen).

And “date nights,” if they happen at all, involve you sitting in front of the TV on your phone, vegging out to try and decompress from the day or the week or the stress.

You feel disconnected as a couple and more like roommates than romantic partners.

You just want to feel connected again. But you feel like there’s no time and you actually have no effing clue how to even start.

So … let’s just stop and take a breath for a second because that feels heavy.

And to reassure you, it’s normal in long term relationships to not have the same spark you had at the beginning. Also, life and kids and careers and all.the.things happen.

However, the good news is that there are simple ways that you can intentionally bring connection, romance and intimacy back into your relationship (because they’re essential for an awesome and healthy relationship).

The key word there is intentional.

A connected relationship isn’t going to magically fall into your lap (if you’ve been waiting, hoping things will resolve on their own but are only feeling more disconnected, you know what I mean).

So, what does it actually take? It takes being willing to intentionally invest in your relationship.

And I know from my own experience as well as systems I’ve created based on my education that the investment includes:

  1. Core identity (your identity as an individual).

  2. Couple identity (your identity together in your relationship).

  3. Conditioning and circumstance shifts (becoming aware of the unconscious and societal conditioning and the situations that impact connection).

  4. Communication that’s healthy and emotionally intelligent.

  5. Connection that’s intentionally created (e.g. date nights).

How Date Nights Contribute to Connection

As you saw above, date nights are one way to intentionally create a deeper connection with your partner.

You may not have experienced them that way in the past. Your date nights may have been boring or non-existent.

But, new and fun date nights may contribute to something called “self-expansion” and counteract the same-old, same-old boring stuff that you (and many other couples) experience. 

A wide variety of date nights, including mundane activities can help couples create connection, likely because sharing time together provides “opportunities for self-disclosure and a deeper understanding of one’s partner.” ~ From a study by Yuthika U. Girme & Nickola C. Overall

And …

“Couple time may lead to higher quality relationships at least in part by fostering higher levels of communication, sexual satisfaction, and commitment among contemporary couples.” ~ The National Marriage Project

This is where the number one secret comes in …

The number one secret is that it’s the underlying motivation for having shared experiences (i.e., date nights) that makes the biggest difference.

Studies have shown that date nights that are motivated by relationship or partner-related reasons result in greater self-disclosure, connection and benefits than date nights that are motivated by self-oriented reasons. As well, the commitment of both partners is necessary. 

One way to increase closeness in established relationships is to have exciting date nights that include expanding the mind and growing the self. People who are motivated to pursue intimacy and growth in relationships (vs. to avoid negative outcomes) have more exciting date nights because they come up with and plan exciting dates (from their perspective). Planning might seem like the opposite of excitement, but might actually increase it. ~ From a study by Cheryl Harasymchuk, Amy Muise and others

Date nights can also create connection because, according to Date Nights Take Two, they might:

  • Prevent or reduce relationship conflict.

  • Prevent or reduce time spent with others that there may be an affair with.

  • Allow you to work toward shared goals

  • Promote closeness and commitment.

  • And build a strong foundation that helps couples handle relationship challenges.

The Key Elements of Date Nights That Create Connection

So, the key factors for effective date nights include:

  1. Coming up with date night ideas that are focused on your partner (e.g. to increase understanding of them) or your relationship (e.g. to spend more time together), rather than on yourself (e.g. for individual enjoyment).

  2. Commitment and responsiveness from your partner as well as their participation in planned activities because maintaining a healthy relationship requires the dedication of both or all partners.

  3. Creating stress-free date nights … simple can be best!

  4. Incorporating ideas that promote closeness and provide opportunities for self-disclosure and a deeper understanding of each other.

  5. Engaging in new, interesting, challenging and exciting shared activities that promote the broadening of the mind (e.g. learning about each other or learning something new) and a new perspective of the self (self-expanding)

  6. Choosing to have date nights because you want to achieve positive outcomes like intimacy and growth versus to avoid negative outcomes like conflict. Couples who are more likely to have date nights for positive outcomes, plan activities that they view as more exciting and therefore, more self-expansive.

  7. Planning! There is supporting evidence that although people know what they should do when they are bored in their relationships (i.e., engage in exciting activities with their partner), they are not necessarily more likely to do so (Harasymchuk et al., 2017). Although planning might seem contrary to the intention of exciting activities (i.e., to be spontaneous and “in the moment”), it might help to set the stage for an environment in which a couple can have natural, unprompted, and free moments to explore and play (i.e., sorting out the logistics to maximize desired choices).

Why Couples Don’t Have Date Nights

Some common reasons include:

  1. Lack of Time: Busy schedules and responsibilities can make it challenging for couples to find time for regular date nights.

  2. Expense: Some couples may feel that going out for a date night is too expensive, especially if they have budget constraints or other financial priorities.

  3. Childcare: For couples with children, arranging childcare can be a logistical challenge and an added expense, making date nights less feasible.

  4. Routine: Over time, date nights can become routine or predictable, leading to a lack of excitement or novelty.

  5. Fatigue: After a long day of work or other responsibilities, couples may feel too tired to plan or enjoy a date night.

  6. Communication: Differences in preferences or interests may lead to disagreements or difficulties in planning enjoyable date night activities.

  7. Relationship Issues: Couples experiencing relationship challenges or conflicts may find it difficult to enjoy date nights together.

  8. Social Pressure: External pressures, such as societal expectations or comparing their relationship to others', can create stress around date nights.

  9. Technology distractions: Constant connectivity to devices and social media can detract from quality time spent together during date nights.

  10. Health concerns: Illness or health issues can limit the ability or desire to engage in date night activities.

Overcoming these objections often involves communication and creativity to find what works for both partners.

The Benefits of Date Nights

But benefits of date nights include:

  1. Communication through creating opportunities to talk outside of the regular daily grind.

  2. Novelty, which adds fun, uniqueness and excitement back into a long term relationship.

  3. Romance, which can result in greater sexual satisfaction as well as that spark of romance.

  4. Commitment increases from putting each other and your relationship first.

  5. Stress-reduction from enjoying time together away from the usual stresses of life.

What You Can Do to Have Fun Date Nights That Create Connection

So, you’ve seen that intentional date nights can contribute to healthier relationships, deeper connection, increased closeness, more meaningful communication, fun (!), romance, commitment and reduced stress.

I’m sure you can see how important they are for your relationship.

I want to finish off with part of my story to emphasize the importance.

What you may know about me is that I’m an intimacy coach who helps couples create intimate connection and communication in their relationship so they can go from feeling like disconnected roommates to romantic partners again.

But what you may not know about me is that my partner and I were separated for almost five years after we ended our relationship that was full of conflict, disconnection and lack of emotional intimacy.

You might notice that I said we were separated for almost five years. So, what happened at that point? We got back together (and even had a superhero re-wedding, which might be a story for another time)!

What the heck led to us getting back together? Well, it started with a lot of individual work on the underlying stuff that had created the conflict.

And then in a deep conversation in the car of all places, we agreed to three things (in addition to continuing to shift the underlying stuff that gets in the way).

  1. To always communicate with each other and do so in a healthy, constructive way.

  2. To honor our authentic selves and support each other in becoming the best version of ourselves individually and together.

  3. And to intentionally create emotional intimacy (because it’s so easy to get lost in the stress of life, jobs, finances, kids and everything else).

We’ve continued to do all of those things and more. What we created was a deep connection, authentic sex and calm, honest communication. And ultimately, a relationship that nourishes us.

We still have disagreements and hard conversations of course. But with the foundations we built (and keep working on), we talk things out, listen and respond (rather than react). We continue to work on the shit under the surface that gets in the way. And we have fun constantly connecting with each other and deepening our emotional intimacy (like through date nights).

That’s a major reason why I’m so passionate about helping couples (through practical solutions that actually work). I know the power of healthy communication, emotional connection and authenticity as well as the foundational mindset work underneath it all. And that’s what I help YOU do, too.

Us getting back together happened almost ten years ago and including the five-year separation, we’ve been together for 29 years now, but I still remember the hurt, screaming fights and hopelessness. I know what it’s like to want a connected relationship but have no idea how to change the disconnection and feeling caught in the shit-loop, feeling like it’ll never end.

Working on the underlying mindset issues took YEARS for me to shift, along with learning effective communication about our relationship and also about sexual desires. I created the 5C system that I now support you with so you can create intimacy, satisfaction in the bedroom, healthy communication and shifting the underlying stuff much more quickly than I did.

I’d love for you to get started with 3 keys to non-boring date nights that create that connection.

See you over there!

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Leanne Chesser

Hi! I'm Leanne. I'm a intimacy coach and creator of Connection for Couples and the 5C System. I help couples create connected relationships and build foundations for intimacy, emotionally intelligent communication and sexual authenticity and go from feeling like disconnected roommates to connected, intimate partners again. You can learn more at

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