Date Night? Scientists Settle on 3 Activities to Turn Up the Romance

Creativity and collaboration make for a better date.

It’s summertime — which means people are shedding their winter layers and venturing out into the world of rooftop bars, longer days, and park picnics. It’s time for a summer fling.

But here’s the problem: Sitting across from someone at a bar or restaurant gets old after a while. So what do you do on a first date, or a second date, or even a 50th date, to keep your partner’s interest?

Scientists at Baylor University looked to answer the question: What dates boost emotional attachment between partners?

Watch the video above for a full scientific explanation of how your body reacts to different experiences with a partner.

The group from Baylor published a study in February 2019 in the Journal of Marriage and Family. They sent 20 heterosexual couples on one of two dates. Either the couples played a familiar board game, or they went to an art class and painted a beach scene together. Nineteen of the couples were married, and one couple had been living together for over a year.

In order to see how well the dates went, the scientists measured how much oxytocin each person produced before and after the date. Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone.” It’s the chemical your body produces that helps you form attachments to romantic partners and babies.

game night
Game night could be an effective way to boost oxytocin levels.

Bottom line, all of the dates increased oxytocin. But the researchers predicted that couples would like the board game date better because it was a familiar environment and the couples would interact more.

However, men who attended art classes released the most oxytocin — twice as much as any other group. The scientists predicted that these men enjoyed the art class because it was a new and challenging experience for them. The couples taking the art class also put their arms around each other and encouraged one another, while those playing a board game focused more on the game than each other.

Another study from the University of Buffalo and the University of California Irvine, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior in March 2013, suggests that people who volunteer feel less stressed because they have high levels of oxytocin. Check out some volunteering opportunities at your local animal shelter for another date idea that will bring you and your bae even closer together (plus, puppies!).

So switch it up for your next date night. Do something new, exciting, and challenging to keep your partner smitten. And keep oxytocin levels high by interacting and communicating and staring deeply into each other’s eyes.