The Micro-Date Revolution
Rethinking Date Night
When I ask my couples clients what they do to nourish their love, I usually get something like: We’ll watch a movie or go to our favorite restaurant over the weekend. The next thing they will tell me is why they haven’t had a date night in weeks or even months. There is nothing wrong with making date night, but when couples stress over making it happen and feel tethered to “waiting” before they can enjoy some connection time, I like to introduce what I call the micro-date.
What is a Micro-Date?
When I introduce the micro-date to couples, I usually get a mixture of relief and surprise. “Could it be so simple?” Is written on their faces. I like to think of the micro-date as your ‘relationship harmonizer.’
A micro-date can happen anywhere and anytime in as little as five seconds. The most important thing, I tell my clients, is to “intentionalize” your micro-date.
A micro-date is like having a mindful practice, in which you get to build into your every-day routine “connection-pauses” and take the time to smell the roses; in this case, notice your partner. So what exactly constitutes a micro-date?
It’s a deliberate conscious act of focusing on your partner in a loving, supportive way. It could be giving a “rockstar” compliment – you know, the kind of compliment that ripples through your Joy Zone – or showing genuine interest in some “moment” of your partner’s day.
Don’t forget to set the intention right before having a date! Remember that you are injecting a felt quality into the moment, ensuring that you and your partner feel closer.
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How to Have a Micro-Date
When Adira and Richard came to me, they were both feeling depleted from being in “survivor-mode” for weeks on end. Richard faced mounting stress from losing his business in the pandemic while trying his best to accept the new reality of working from home and having to consider vocational opportunities that, according to him, were not ideal options for his entrepreneurial-driven career path. Adira looked after their three small children together, which involved a lot of special care for their two children with longstanding chronic health issues.
Adira and Richard complained of not having any time for each other. They both felt like their intentions were in the right place, but their days seemed ruled by things to get done. Taking several hours off from each of their hectic schedules to be together was met with a growing sense of futility.
During our sessions together, Adira and Richard gained a much greater understanding of a set of gridlocked issues that continued to surface in their relationship. They learned to process old and new pain forming emotional blocks in their relationship and keeping them from feeling motivated to grow together. But even when the relationship infrastructure felt a lot more secure than it had for a long time, Adira and Richard both felt they were still struggling to prioritize relationship care.
Together we brainstormed a micro-date relationship care plan if you will. Adira and Richard decided to create a love jar as a kind of talisman for their micro-dates. Each day, they would add things to the love jar – a thoughtful wish, a compliment, a vulnerable confession, a flirty note, funny share, silly picture, open-question, hand-picked rose, inspiring quote, surprise (e.g., I’ve got dinner tonight!) – even a request for a good hug.
The more positive feelings that flowed into the jar, the more they felt inspired to build on their micro-dates. They also created a morning coffee ritual and made it a no-phone-just-each-other-for-five-minutes micro-date, setting the intention to be present for their day and each other.
They emptied their love jar each evening and set the intention to wake up with a “tabula rasa” or fresh slate and nourish their love all over again.
(Anyone can make a love jar with a Mason Jar and non-sticky notes or non-adhesive memo notes. If you prefer to order a ready-made jar with blank cards that come with it, I like the Love Jars from: Gratitude Glass Jars)
What Micro-dates Can Do On the Bigger Scale
Richard recognized that losing his business seemed to stir up deep-seated emotions he had been holding in for years. He expressed that he had an “addiction” to receiving approval from others. Richard said that he felt like he had been releasing the “identity rope.”
Adira recognized how often she dismissed her own feelings, which came from experiencing a sense of “undeserving” – an inner wounding that originated in the past. Adira practiced feeling “deserving energy” by receiving compliments and refraining from her knee-jerk tendency to dismiss praise and flattery words.
Adira realized that she was still treating her feelings how her feelings had been treated when she was younger and subconsciously activating this dismissive pattern – against herself. Adira practiced accepting her partner’s expressed admiration and saying, “thank you.”
The micro-dates not only cultivated a more positive emotional climate in which Adira and Richard were able to foster greater shared meaning in their relationship but a ripe space for growth and understanding, both individually and in the “we-ness” perspective they were stepping into more readily. The micro-dates helped maintain and fortify the healing anchoring work in our sessions together.
(Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.)
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Amy-Noelle Shih,M.A., LPC is a powerful, dynamic, couples counselor, individual therapist and life coach with a direct, authentic approach to personal growth. Her style is as affirming and positive as it is effective, and all about helping you create alignment and joy in yourself and in your relationships.
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