just for the love of it: top 10 end-of-summer date ideas

Okay, so it's the end of the summer and you're running out of things to do with your partner. Below are my top ten end-of-summer date ideas. Try them out over the next few weeks. Summer will be over before you know it.

1. Pack a Picnic
Make some sandwiches, load up on fruit, grab your favorite beverage, and bring a big blanket. Pick a spot in the shade for you and your mate to eat, relax, talk, and perhaps kiss a little bit. Turn off your cell phones, take in the scenery, and just enjoy each other's company.

2. Tour the Town
It doesn't matter whether you live in a small town or the big city, taking a tour of where you live can be really fun for you and your partner. You can either go to your local visitor's bureau or look online for a list of places to go and things to see. For instance, you could look up where the local historical landmarks, art galleries, haunted houses, antique shops, victorian homes, or museums are located in your town. Make a map of these sights, print out information about each sight, and then you and your mate can spend the day following the map and learning about everything in your neck of the woods.

3. Watch a Movie Outside
Try to find a local drive-in, any organization that's playing a movie outside, or buy your own outdoor theater, get a few huge blankets, and snuggle up with your partner under the stars.

4. Rent a Boat
Whether you go paddle-boating or speedboating, spending the day on a boat in the middle of a lake, river, bay, or ocean is an extremely romantic date where you can get away from it all with your partner. Look up local bodies of water near you and you'll likely find some kind of boat rental nearby. Pack a meal for an added romantic touch.

5. Roller Skate
Are you still a kid at heart? Roller skating is a great date idea for all of you who would like to have fun while still staying active. Skate around the rink for an hour or so, split a plate of greasy cheese fries, and share stories about your childhood with each other.

6. Pick Produce
Strawberries and apples and peaches... oh my! Find a U-Pick orchard near you and spend the day perusing the land for the best produce money can buy. Before you go, learn about how to choose the ripest fruit with your mate.

7. Star Search
Print out a constellation guide (like this one, this one, or this one), choose some constellations to find, print out information about each constellation, get a blanket, and lay out under the stars. Search for each constellation while learning about them together.

8. Go to a Fair or Local Festival
Summer is a great time to go to local fairs and festivals. Take your partner out for an exciting evening filled with rides, cotton candy, funnel cakes, and games. Maybe you could even win him or her a prize!

9. Race
There's nothing wrong with a little friendly competition, right? Race go-karts with your partner this weekend at the closest amusement park.

10. Walk the Dog
Low on cash? Taking a walk with your partner can be just as romantic as any of these other summer date ideas.
Hold hands, walk around your neighborhood, and talk about your day.

Keeping things interesting by trying out some of these end-of-summer date ideas can enhance your relationship and bring you closer as a couple.

Related Love Lesson posts:

Click HERE to read all of my "just for the love of it" posts

For more date ideas, see the following resources:

monday morning survey: romantic symptoms questionnaire

Love can make us feel like we're on top of the world. You know that euphoria that you feel for the one you love; it can be amazingly exciting, extremely trying, and wonderfully complex all at the same time. It's a world-wind of emotions. Researchers have created a wide variety of surveys that try to capture these feelings. Below is one of these such surveys that is aimed at measuring the amount of romantic symptoms you have about your relationship.

The Romantic Symptoms Questionnaire

Following is a list of feelings that may be elicited by the thought of your romantic partner. Respond with the word true for those that you feel and the word false for those that you do not feel. Respond in terms of your current (right now) feelings, not in terms of your general feelings.

I feel...

1. as if each day is special
2. that life is worthwhile
3. happy about everything
4. as if I were swinging very high
5. that he or she is perfect
6. positive towards everyone
7. high
8. energetic
9. in tune with my body
10. wow!
11. delirious
12. like counting the minutes until I see her or him
13. as if we live in our own special world
14. able to accomplish any goal
15. spontaneous
16. extreme joy
17. that he or she is the most beautiful person in the world
18. totally involved with him or her
19. oneness and harmony with him or her
20. in love with everything
21. a tingling in my spine
22. breathless
23. longing for her or him
24. tingly
25. light
26. carefree
27. like jumping up and down
28. as if I don't have a care in the world
29. generous
30. playful
31. fulfilled
32. radiating
33. beaming
34. accepting
35. preoccupied with the thought of her or him
36. good will toward the world
37. complete
38. thrills of anticipation
39. off in the clouds
40. constant euphoria
41. floating
42. able to conquer all
43. full
44. overwhelmed by my feelings
45. like acting crazy
46. as if the whole world were coming up roses
47. light and airy
48. purposeful
49. an increased heartbeat
50. flushed
51. unrestrained
52. oneness
53. loyalty
54. self-actualizing
55. exuberance
56. ecstasy
57. vigorous
58. bursting with happiness
59. whole
60. like a blind person who has suddenly gained his or her sight
61. that everything is good
62. an increased metabolism
63. fantastic
64. dazed
65. like singing
66. as if a rainbow were shining just for me
67. like blossoming
68. awake
69. sunny
70. all aglow
71. heightened sensory awareness
72. like exploding
73. about to burst with happiness
74. a big rush inside me
75. like screaming for joy

To calculate your score, simply add up the number of items you marked as true. For instance, if you said true to 50 of the items, then your score is a 50.
  • 85th percentile: men with a score of 58 or more & women with a score of 63 or more
  • 70th percentile: men with a score of 49 & women with a score of 52
  • 50th percentile: men with a score of 40 & women with a score of 46
  • 30th percentile: men with a score of 31 & women with a score of 38
  • 15th percentile: men with a score of 22 & women with a score of 29

*See my post about your relationship's romantic potential for an explanation of percentiles.*

Higher scores indicate more romantic symptoms.

Related Love Lesson Posts:

Click HERE to take one of my other "monday morning surveys."

  • Mathes, E. W. (1982). Mystical experiences, romantic love, and hypnotic susceptibility. Psychological Reports, 50, 701-702.

quick love tip: improve your sexual satisfaction

How's your sex life? Do you enjoy it? Are you satisfied?

Well, a large body of research has shown that sexual satisfaction is extremely important to our relationships. In particular, individuals' satisfaction with their sex lives has been shown to be positively associated with their overall relationship satisfaction (as sexual satisfaction increases, so does relationship satisfaction) among both heterosexual (Butzer & Campbell, 2008; Byers, 2005; Nelson, Choi, Mulhall, & Roth, 2007; Peck, Shaffer, & Williamson, 2004) and homosexual (e.g., Tracy & Junginger, 2007) couples.

Researchers have also studied the link between sexual satisfaction and relationship stability overtime (e.g., Edwards & Booth, 1994; Oggins, Leber, & Veroff, 1993; Sprecher, 2002; White & Keith, 1990). For example, using data from the Early Years of Marriage Project, sexual satisfaction during the first year and fourth year of marriage was examined. Oggins and his colleagues (1993) discovered that couples who were less sexually satisfied during their first year of marriage were more likely to be divorced by their fourth year than individuals who were more sexually satisfied in their first year. In addition, Edwards and Booth (1994) found that married individuals who reported having more sexual problems during an initial interview were more likely to be divorced three years later than individuals who reported less sexual problems. Lastly, other researchers (e.g., Cleek & Pearson, 1985; Hill, Rubin, & Peplau, 1976; Sprecher, 1994) have asked individuals who recently dissolved a relationship to either evaluate a list of investigator-generated reasons or to disclose their own reasoning for the break-up. In this line of research, sexual problems and/or sexual incompatibility are often rated as at least moderately important.

Sexual satisfaction is significant. If you or your partner are dissatisfied, talk about it. Try to figure out what the two of you can do to enhance your time in the bedroom. Maybe you need to have sex more often or maybe you need to try something new or maybe you need to stop doing something. Whatever it is, the best way to become more satisfied is by talking about it with your partner. Need more help? Click on the resources below for ideas.

Related Love Lesson Posts:

For more information, see the following resources:

  • Butzer, B., & Campbell, L. (2008). Adult attachment, sexual satisfaction, and relationship satisfaction: A study of married couples. Personal Relationships, 15, 141-154.
  • Byers, E. S. (2005). Relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction: A longitudinal study of individuals in long-term relationships. Journal of Sex Research, 42, 113- 118.
  • Byers, E.S., & Demmons,S. (1999). Sexual satisfaction and self disclosure within dating relationships. The Journal of Sex Research, 36, 180-189.
  • Cleek, M. G., & Pearson, T. A. (1985). Perceived causes of divorce: An analysis of interrelationships. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47, 179-183.
  • Edwards, J. N., & Booth, A. (1994). Sexuality, marriage, and well-being: The middle years. In A. S. Rossi (Ed.), Sexuality across the life course (pp. 233-259). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Hill, C. T., Rubin, Z., & Peplau, L. A. (1976). Breakups before marriage: The end of 103 affairs. Journal of Social Issues, 32, 147- 168.
  • Nelson, C. J., Choi, J. M., Mulhall, J. P., & Roth, A. J. (2007). Determinants of sexual satisfaction in men with prostate cancer. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5, 1422-1427.
  • Oggins, J., Leber, D., & Veroff, J. (1993). Race and gender differences in black and white newlyweds’ perceptions of sexual and marital relationships. The Journal of Sex Research, 30, 152-160.
  • Peck, S. R., Shaffer, D. R., & Williamson, G. M. (2004). Sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction in dating couples: The contributions of relationship community and favorability of sexual exchanges. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 16, 17-37.
  • Sprecher, S. (1994). Twosides to the breakup of dating relationships. Personal Relationships, 1, 199-222.
  • Sprecher, S. (2002). Sexual satisfaction in premarital relationships: Associations with satisfaction, love, commitment, and stability. The Journal of Sex Research, 3, 1-7.
  • Tracy, J. K., & Junginger, J. (2007). Correlates of lesbian sexual functioning. Journal of Women’s Health, 16, 499-509.
  • White, L., & Keith, B. (1990). The effect of shift work on the quality and stability of marital relationships. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, 453- 462.

wise love words: your home decor reflects on your relationship

Check out this interesting article that explains a study which reports that objects in your home are related to the level of closeness between you and your partner.

Click HERE to read all of my "wise love words" posts

just for the love of it: top 10 romantic movies

1. Casablanca

2. The Notebook

3. P.S. I Love You

4. Sleepless in Seattle

5. Ghost

6. Titanic

7. Gone with the Wind

8. You've Got Mail
Click here to watch the trailer on YouTube

9. While You Were Sleeping

10. Something's Gotta Give

What's YOUR favorite romantic movie?

For more romantic movie ideas, see the following resources:

how DO they do it? three secrets to long-lasting relationships

Last week, Hus, the kids, and I went to a community festival. As we sat down to eat some local grub, we both began to people-watch. It's one of our favorite things to do. Hus pointed out a man's huge muscle car tattoo (Hus loves cars) and then I directed our attention to the teenage couple fighting uncontrollably. We ate, we talked, we laughed. Good times.

After a few more minutes, we began to notice that the majority of the people eating around us were couples. They were all sitting two-by-two and eating their midwestern snacks, but few were actually talking to each other. At the table next to us, there was an older couple eating. They were adorable. As they ate, they were staring into each other's eyes, holding each other's hands, and talking up a storm. They were in love. It was clear. When they saw our twins, they turned their attention in our direction. "Twins? Hold old are they?" the woman asked. Hus replied, "Yep. One boy and one girl. They're nine weeks today." She and her husband were enthralled with them. We talked for a few minutes and then I couldn't help myself any longer. I had to ask, "how long have you two been married?" "Fifty-three years," the woman answered.

I began to wonder what their secret was. How was their love still so strong after all these years? Did they say "I love you" everyday? Did they go out dancing twice a month? Did they never go to bed angry? It had to be something. What is the key to a long-lasting relationship?

Relationship researchers have been fascinated with this topic for decades. In fact, researchers have studied individuals who have been married for over fifty years and have discovered that there are three characteristics that these long-lasting relationships share (Dickson, 1995).

First, individuals who have been together for fifty plus years tend to have a comfortable level of closeness with each other. You can achieve this level of comfort by spending time with one another. But, you want to be sure that you don't spend too much time together because that can become overwhelming. You must spend enough time together that you continue to know each other. Too many couples become nothing more than roommates over time. Continue to do things together. Talk about what's going on in your lives. Share your current interests (you may think you know these things about your partner, but people change their focus in life all of the time; your partner may not like the same things that he or she liked when you first met). Maintaining a comfortable level of closeness is key to satisfying long-term relationships.

The second characteristic is that the couple shares a mutual plan or life vision. This could be as elaborate as sitting down together and planning out your life (e.g. when you want to have kids, when you want to retire, etc.) or as simple as using "we" instead of "I" when you talk about your future. Including your mate in your life plans is a great way to express your commitment to him or her. And, it makes your partner feel like a vital part of your life.

Lastly, individuals in these long-term relationships have respect for each other. You need to value your partner and your partner needs to value you. You must treat each other with dignity and never demean one another, especially for personal gain or amusement. Love your partner for who he or she is.

While these may not be the only keys to successful coupling, these are three very important components of any long-lasting relationship. So the next time you see an adorably affectionate older couple and you wonder to yourself "how do they do it?," you'll have a few ideas.

For more information about long-lasting relationships, see the following resources:

  • Dickson, F. C. (1995). The best is yet to be: Research on long-lasting marriages. In J. T. Wood & S. Duck (Eds.). Under-studied relationships: Off the beaten track. (pp. 22-50). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

quick love tip: just kiss

Kissing is one of the more sensual acts you can do with your mate. It has the ability to enhance your sexual experience while also making you feel loved and wanted. Interestingly, kissing has been shown to release chemicals in the brain that trigger a wide variety of emotions. From feelings of closeness and intimacy to feelings of happiness and euphoria, kissing can greatly benefit you and your relationship.

In fact, Dr. Laura Berman suggests that couples engage in 10 minutes of uninterrupted kissing every single day. She goes on to say that this should be just kissing; not kissing that leads to other sexual acts. So, in addition to your sexual act kissing, you should also partake in a 10 minute kiss session with your partner each day. Making out just to make out (with no other sexual strings attached) is great for your relationship.

But don't forget about all of those little pecks through out the day. Those matter too! Kissing your mate hello and goodbye or for no reason at all are also great for your relationship.

So, kiss your partner first thing in the morning and then again right before bed. Kiss your partner when you leave for work and when you come back home. Kiss your partner when you're just sitting on the couch and when he or she does something thoughtful or kind. Just kiss.

Click HERE to read all of my "quick love tips"

For more information about kissing, see these resources:

which came first; the good sexual communication or the good relationship?

A few months ago, I was involved in the following conversation:
  • Questioner: "So... couples who talk about sex more often also tend to be more satisfied in their relationship, right?"
  • Me: "Yep."
  • Questioner: "Well, which came first? The good relationship or the good sexual communication?"
  • Me: "Ummmm..."
I was intrigued. Before I attempt to answer the question, I thought I'd first explain what relationship research has to say.

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