When we think of dates (in the sense of “meetings with other people for the purpose of romantic connection,” not “individual days of the calendar year”), we usually think of being single, going on dates with new people, and having either great, meh, or overwhelmingly awful experiences. Maybe you get to have some sex! Maybe you don't! Who knows! Dating is a wacky rollercoaster, guys! Except, ya know, when you're married. It's important to remember, you lovably self-involved singles, that you don’t stop going on dates when you find a long-term partner—marrieds have to go on dates, too! It's true that when you’re in a committed LTR or married, the purpose of a date changes: When you were single, you went on dates for the purpose of getting to know someone, and figuring out if there were possibilities for a long-term connection. (Or maybe you were just looking to have a fun time and maybe make out with a cute person, which is also a perfectly legit reason to date.) But as a married person, you go on dates to maintain the connection you already have. It’s important—and surprisingly difficult at times—to maintain a sense of romance when you’re with someone for the long haul; It’s way too easy to let your relationship get bogged down by work exhaustion, your flooded laundry room, and the never-ending question of “Who is going to do the dishes?”
Going on a date when you’re married isn’t necessarily better than dating when you’re single—it’s just different. Some of the bad parts of dating as a single person are, thankfully, gone (no being surprised by the discovery that your date completely misrepresented himself in his OKCupid profile pic, for example), but some of the good parts are, too (like the excitement of realizing that you really like someone for the first time). Read on to find out how a date plays out differently when you’re single or married:
Setting Up the Date
Single Date: There’s a whole process of figuring out whom to go on a date with. Do you ask out someone from work or your favorite coffee shop? Do you go for OKCupid or Tinder? It’s a bit messy, but also exciting: The possibilities are endless!
Married Date: There’s no need to swipe right when you’re married—you got a permanent date when you said your vows. However, you still have to actually set up the date and get your partner to agree to it—yet another Tuesday night eating pizza in front of the TV does not a date make.
Planning the Date
Single Date: Setting things up can be hard—you don’t know what he likes to do/listen to/eat/drink. What if you plan to take them to a cool wine bar with amazing burgers and then to meet up with your friends at a concert with your favorite local band, and they turn out to be a vegan teetotaler who hates music and people? (Wait, why are you going on a date with this person?)
Married Date: When you’re married, you already know what your date/spouse likes to do. Instead, the difficult part is that you really have to make an effort to make it a date. You can’t just go to the cheap Vietnamese restaurant on the corner, like you do every time you’re both too exhausted to cook. You have to break up the routine, and do something fun.
Single Date: The first 15 minutes can be uncomfortable, as you try to figure out what to talk about.
Married Date: At first, you have to forcibly stop yourselves from talking about boring stuff, like taxes. This is a date, not a company meeting, people.
Single Date: Once you have the conversation rolling, it’s really fun. (Well, it is if your date isn't horrible.) You get to tell each other your best, funniest stories, and bond over newly discovered shared loves, like Joss Whedon and Nutella.
Married Date: You already know each other’s funniest stories, but you tell them anyway and they’re still funny. You delve into family gossip and complain about people at work. You still have long conversations about Joss Whedon and Nutella.
Single Date: You show each other adorable pictures of your pets on your phones.
Married Date: You show each other adorable pictures of your pets on your phones. Yes, the pets you share, who you both see every day, because you’re both obsessed.
Paying for the Date
Single Date: Figuring out who pays is awkward. Will it insult his manhood if you offer to pay? Will she think you'll always pay if you pay this one time? Is there some sort of taboo against going Dutch? Where are we on that these days?
Married Date: You have a joint bank account, so you both pay!
Single Date: Throughout the date, you’re thinking, Are we going to kiss after? Do I want them to kiss me? Do they even want to? What if they think the way I kiss is weird?
Married Date: You’ve kissed approximately 15 billion times before. There may not be all the butterflies of a first kiss anymore, but at least you already know that you both appreciate each other’s kissing technique.
Single Date: Should I bring them back to my place? Their place? Is it too soon to sleep together? Did I shave my legs?
Married Date: You’re both going back to the same place! The whole “sleeping together for the first time” ship sailed a long time ago—it’s pretty much a lock that you’re getting lucky tonight. You’re still going to wonder if you shaved your legs, though.
Images: Leo Hidalgo/Flickr; Giphy (8)