About three months ago, my partner and I moved in together. We made a home in our cozy one-bedroom Manhattan apartment and began to settle into a new-found sense of routine: who would make dinner on which nights, when we would go to the gym together during the week, and on what day we would have a designated date night (it was Friday, always Friday). But when coronavirus (COVID-19) broke out, our carefully constructed sense of normalcy was swiftly turned on its head, forcing us (and many others) to re-evaluate how and when we would spend quality time with each other while living and working in such a small space.
Successfully co-habitating typically means striking a delicate balance between the time you spend with your partner and the time you cultivate just for yourself. After all, you are both individuals with your own sets of interests, so it’s important to make room for that. But it’s also important to note that while quarantine might mean that you’re spending more collective hours together, many of those hours are spent working, worrying, or both. It’s more time together, but not necessarily quality time.
Denna Babul, relationship expert and author of Love Strong, tells HelloGiggles that it’s crucial for couples to make sure they’re still caring for their relationship during the pandemic. “Without the time to reconnect each week, couples tend to get into ruts and routines, believing their partnership can make it on cruise control,” she explains. “Everyone needs and wants to feel special, so make time for that. If not, your connecting can become more business-like.”
Since spending quality time with my partner is my number one love language, I’ve found myself looking for ways to capitalize on date night in a way that feels fun and fresh, while still being safe and at home during quarantine. Frankly, I’m tired of posting up and watching a movie on the couch every Friday night, and my partner and I not having any separation between our work lives and love lives stresses me out (on top of the general anxiety I feel about us living in the epicenter of the virus). That’s where Date Night In A Box comes in.
Complete with everything you could need for an evening in, it feels like the perfect solution to a romantic rut. I chose one called “Dine and Dance” with the goal of putting an at-home twist on the classic date night of dinner and dancing. The box comes with ingredients to make your own pizza (a welcome dinnertime menu idea, since we can’t get out to the grocery store as frequently), a fun card game, a pizza-related personality quiz, and a guide for how couples can approach the night. My partner and I were psyched to have something different to look forward to, and when the week came to an end, we successfully turned off our phones, shut our computers, and dove into the contents of the box.
A few hours later, we had made our pizza (and burned it, whoops), had our very own dance party, and played some fun games with each other—all with no screens, TVs or distractions allowed. Most importantly, it gave us the chance to be silly and let go of the stress and uncertainty in our environment.
“With all of the negative media and real-life struggles right now, dating during quarantine is essential,” Babul says. “Taking time for the two of you to flirt, dream, and reconnect will provide a steady foundation for the trials and tribulations that can drain couples in times of high anxiety.” By the end of the night, my partner and I were exhausted, but in a good way. It felt like we had put our energy toward something meaningful and gotten out of our ho-hum routine. I think my partner said it best when he told me that it’s too easy to forget to dance and let loose during this scary time. We’ve now made it a point to do this more often, even if we’re having a particularly difficult day. We may have no control over what’s happening around us right now, but we do have control over how we choose to channel our feelings about it, and having a supportive relationship is a huge resource for this.
My partner and I will be keeping up at-home date nights in the coming weeks—not only because they give us something to look forward to, but because if we are each the only person the other will see for a while, we’re committed to making the most of it.