Whether you’ve been together a lifetime or an hour, it’s important to keep growing – both independently and together. Both challenge and connection can take multiple shapes and occur across different dimensions. (Stay tuned for more articles in this series!) But you should take particular care to nourish your mental bond with your date or partner.
Pairs that embrace mental challenges together stay stimulated by their relationship. They learn from one another and develop respect for each other’s abilities and ideas. They report greater intellectual compatibility, which leads to greater relationship satisfaction, individual confidence, and cooperation.
Long term, there is no substitute for wide-ranging, frequent, and deep conversation to cultivate this aspect of your relationship. Ask one another wild “what-if” questions. Make an effort to research a topic that fascinates them and then engage them about it.
And try some of these daring date ideas. They will spark curiosity, exercise intelligence, and generate conversation. They will help you foster an established relationship or evaluate intellectual compatibility with someone new.
So get ready to challenge your brains!
High-Culture Date Ideas
Most of us fail to take advantage of the incredible cultural resources that our cities or hometowns offer. Do a little research. Many cities have cultural directories you can check out, and others at least maintain tourism websites that include local attractions.
From live performances to art galleries to nights hosted by a nearby coffee shop, you have a wealth of resources just outside your door. Or even at your fingertips. An increasing number of programs have taken their offerings online, making them available in times of closure and to wider audiences.
Explore your intellectual sides with these dates:
- Visit an art gallery or museum. If heading to an art museum, seize the opportunities presented by its special programming and exhibits. Or establish beforehand which one or two collections you want to focus on in a larger institution. Don’t try to take in so much that you’re just overwhelmed.
- Go to the theater, opera, or a concert. You may not live in a place (or time!) where these are readily available, but have no fear. Radio stations have been streaming live concerts since the beginning. These days, you can also see the best Broadway and the Metropolitan Opera have to offer right from your living room. Or venture across the Atlantic for the absolute best in Shakespeare productions.
These services are often free or offer free trials, so there’s no need to break the bank to get your dose of culture. You can still make a night of it, too. Dress up and plan a nice meal to be enjoyed at home.
- Explore Google Arts & Culture. Google now brings you an unbelievable array of interactive cultural experiences. You can visit landmarks and museums or take interactive world tours connected through a common theme. Or do something really crazy like crafting your own opera with machine learning.
- Watch a film rather than a movie. You know the difference! Many local theaters stream old classics, or you could always take in a foreign film at home.
- Attend the reading of a local writer or a poetry night. You can discover one another’s literary tastes and maybe even give yourself new talent to follow. Plus you can support independent bookstores, which is always a worthwhile endeavor.
Puzzling Date Ideas
Work together to solve a riddle or head out for some bar trivia. Games aren’t just fun. They can help you bond over a common problem or against a common enemy – um, I mean, rival team.
Some of these activities also make great ice-breakers when you’re dating someone new. But they’re just as much fun with spouses or significant others. Do enough of them, and you’ll find yourselves naturally assigning certain questions to your partner, increasing your respect for their areas of expertise.
Think while you play with these dates:
- Do an escape room, scavenger hunt, or riddle quest. These group challenges will invigorate you, getting your bodies moving while those mental gears turn. When it’s over, you’ll find yourself rehashing your moves in detail over drinks or dessert.
You can also buy games or mysteries that aim to bring these experiences home. If you really like them, you can hunt a killer every month or subscribe to a different mystery or puzzle subscription box.
- Attend a trivia night at your local bar. You don’t have to be a pop-culture expert to contribute. The odds are that you have some specialty or jumble of random facts that will help bring your team to victory. Learn about the other person’s knowledge hodge-podge in a fast-paced and energetic environment.
- Make an event out of the Saturday or Sunday crossword. Set yourselves up with coffee or mimosas and some breakfast. Then tackle the harder Saturday or longer Sunday puzzle together. If you’re a crossword newbie, the New York Times has some tips to help you get started.
Curious-Cat Date Ideas
Explore new worlds and ideas together. Maybe there’s a subject that intrigues you, or you’re just someone who likes to learn. Either way, these date ideas will give you new things to talk about and ways to engage.
Stoke and satisfy your curiosity with these dates:
- Watch a documentary, listen to a TED talk, or attend a lecture at your local university. You can pick a subject that interests you both or one that relates to individual passions. Either way, you’ll gain new ideas and information with which to engage.
If you play into one person’s expertise, make sure that it’s still approachable for the other. Taking on the roles of teacher and student can be healthy, but try to keep things balanced by switching things up for next time.
- Go to a science museum. If you were lucky enough to visit these attractions as a kid, it’s easy to forget how much you used to enjoy them. Let your naturally curious inner child out to play with the dynamic and interactive exhibits they present. Unlike a massive art museum, you don’t necessarily need a plan. It can be fun just to run – I mean, walk sedately – around.
The Used-Bookstore Date
Yep. Number eleven gets its own category:
- Head to a big used bookstore. First, put ten crisp dollar bills in each of your pockets. Once you get there, wander the aisles together, pointing out books you’ve loved, topics that interest you, things that remind you of funny events from your past, and even books that have bored you to tears. Walk around this incredible space, using it as a reference library for your personal histories.
Before you leave, separate and go shopping for one another, based on the conversations you just had. Pick out a book they seemed intrigued by, wanted to revisit, or that relates to something you learned about them.
Have lunch or dinner somewhere close. After you’ve ordered, exchange gifts and let the conversation continue to flow.
Don’t Stop There
Think of intellectual maintenance as part of the work you should put into your relationship. Revisit these date ideas. You can also look ahead for future lectures, events, performances, or exhibitions. Put these on the calendar, so the two of you can look forward to them together.
Creativity and adventure are important to relationships. Try new things together – whether it’s a photoshoot date or awesomeness that won’t break the budget.
Share your experiences with these date ideas or your own favorite ways to challenge your minds together!