Editor's note: This article was originally published on the Jacob's site, Nurturing Marriage. It has been reprinted here with permission.
Has anyone else noticed that 21st century dating seems to have changed quite a bit? And not for the better.
Whether you are married or looking to get married, bringing back these "retro" dating habits will greatly enhance your relationship with that special someone.
1. Go on an actual date - just the two of you
You know things have sunk pretty low in the dating world when the first tip is to just go on an actual date! You see, contrary to popular belief, a real date involves two people going out together - not two swarms of people. Hanging out with people of the opposite sex does not constitute a date. That's a get-together, a party, a scrum or whatever you want to call it, but it's not a date! So, if you're married, take your lovely spouse and go out - just the two of you. If you're not married, find a lovely person you're attracted to and go out together - just the two of you. It will be fun!
2. Pick up the phone and ask your date out
The art of calling people on the phone and asking them out has quickly been lost - replaced by sending messages through cyberspace with funny emoticons and acronyms. This is very unfortunate. Actually asking people out on dates tells them you're interested, that you want to spend time with them and that you value the relationship you share. Sending a text message says you're bored and have nothing better to do. Your spouse will be tickled pink if you call her up to ask for a date (even if just from the other room). Try it. She's going to love it.
3. Actually plan something to do
You might think it sounds fun to chill on the couch watching football, playing video games or perusing Netflix, but rarely do these plans (or lack thereof) lead to successful dates. Failure to plan is one of the primary reasons married couples don't date as much as they should. Don't fall into that trap. Plan something, get it on the calendar and go have a blast! Show your spouse, or that special someone, that he means everything to you by planning fun and creative dates!
4. Select activities that get you interacting with your date
Movies are great, but they're not great dates. Sure, it can be nice to have a low-key, "cuddle up together" movie night from time to time. We're certainly not opposed to that. However, it would be wise if you also selected some activities that got you talking, interacting and getting to know your date better. When was the last time you asked your spouse a meaningful question and then listened to every last word she said? Go ice-skating, play a board game, make dinner together, go on a scavenger hunt, go dancing or take a class together.
5. Tell your date beforehand what you'll be doing
This might seem obvious to some, but we've heard far too many horror stories about "the girl who went hiking in a skirt and stilettos" or "the guy who went to the symphony in tennis shoes and a ball cap." You should always let your date know what to expect so she can come prepared and feel comfortable. If you want to surprise your date, that's sweet, but at least tip her off as to what she should wear. If you're married, it would be especially sweet to set out an outfit on the bed with a little sticky note saying, "Can't wait for our date tonight."
6. Open up the car door for her
Remember those cute chick flicks where the guy acts like a gentleman and opens up the gal's door for her? We should bring that back. Since when did chivalry go out of fashion? It's possible that some women don't like this gesture, but we think those women are in the minority, and it's a pretty safe bet that you won't offend your date by getting her door. You might even impress her so much that she'll say "yes" to a second date! Oh, and if you're married, you'd better be opening the door for your wife! At least on dates. Make dates that special.
7. Hold hands
Holding hands is fun and romantic. It's a very simple gesture that says a lot. It sends the message that you care, that you're interested, that you're enjoying yourself and that there's definitely some chemistry - all very good messages! The worst thing you can do on a date with your spouse is act like you're not married and walk side by side without any physical touch. If you're married, you should always hold hands on dates. Always.
8. Ask when your date should be home
This one might not apply as much to the married folks, but we guarantee that the married folks will appreciate this for their children. The point here is to have an end time in mind for the date and not simply wait for the fun to die down. Have you ever heard of "the point of diminishing returns?" This has great application in dating - trust us! For the married folks, ask your spouse when he would like to be in by, and honor his wishes (plus, getting in early leaves plenty of time for some proper loving to happen).
9. Send a follow-up "thank you" or "I had a great time"
This doesn't have to be a formal call or anything like that. It could be a simple text message. Either way, express gratitude to your date for taking you out. If you had a good time, let her know that. If you're married, leave a cute note for your spouse on the mirror, on her pillow or in her car, thanking her for the night out. This reinforces how much your date meant to you and shows that time together is a high priority in your marriage! Gratitude goes a long way.
10. Go on dates often
Dates don't have to be extravagant. They don't have to cost a lot of money. They don't even have to take very long. They simply need to happen - and often. Dating gives you time to connect (or reconnect) and discover (or rediscover) what you love about your special someone. Dates bring people closer together and nurture relationships. Don't let dating fall by the wayside and become something "old fashioned." Choose to make date nights happen, and watch the dating magic strengthen and nurture your relationship.