With a diverse array of culture, entertainment, attractions and nightlife, the singles scene is thriving across our fifty states. That’s great news for the estimated 111 million Americans whose relationship status is “currently unattached” and looking to move or simply explore a new city.
In long-term relationships it can be easy to fall into a lazy lifestyle, filled with late nights on the couch and take-out dinners—especially if you cohabitate. These comfortable habits can quickly turn into stale patterns that make life less than exciting, and whether your relationship is new or seasoned, no one likes boring.
Living together is fun and exciting, but it can also be stressful. Merging your life with someone else’s puts a lot of pressure on both of you. If you’ve always been messy and your partner is a exceptionally clean, suddenly one of you is always annoyed.
Instead of letting these typical cohabitation issues get in the way of your relationship, use services to relieve some of the stress.
For most people, the holiday season means plenty of family time, which can bring laughter and closeness or tension and uneasiness—sometimes both in the span of just one visit. This is especially true if you’re spending the holidays with a significant other and meeting the parents for the first time.
Couples thrive in shared activities, creating intimacy and lifelong memories in the process. Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American still spends to bulk of their leisure time watching T.V. at 2 hours and 47 minutes a day, compared with participating in sports, recreation or exercise (18 minutes), socializing and communicating (41 minutes) and reading (18 minutes).
Don’t let your relationship fall into a long detached and zoned-out Summer with Netflix on repeat. Instead, find a few hobbies that excite both of you, allowing you to enjoy one another’s company and reconnect in the midst of life’s breakneck speed.
Browse the activities below to find something that piques both of your interests. All of them are sure to keep you entertained and connected, while relishing each other’s company all season long.
Become Winery Explorers
Organize a few relaxing weekend getaways with your partner to meander hand-in-hand through scenic vineyards and discover a shared interest in wine tasting. Even if your knowledge of Merlot versus Moscato is based on nothing more than red versus white, you’ll both have a memorable time savoring the togetherness. At the end of the summer, you’ll both be wine experts, and will enjoy choosing new wines together all year long.
Explore an urban or natural setting with your partner through the lens of a camera. Whether you’re new with the camera or seasoned photographers, you’ll both have a blast tapping into your creative self, together. Have fun using digital and old school film—so you can enjoy the long-lost excitement of waiting to get photos developed. Better yet, find a local film developing class, where you can both spend time in the lab developing your work together.
The experience of digging your hands into the dirt and planting seeds is primal at its core. Not to mention it’s a stress-relieving hobby, allowing you and your S.O. to unwind from long days of work. The key to connecting while growing your first garden together is to be mindful of the moment:
“A garden offers a feast for the senses: verdant leaves, aromatic blossoms, chirping birds, squishy earth. Make a deliberate choice to soak it all up,” says Linda Wasmer Andrews of Psychology Today. Long story short: leave your phone inside, keep the music down, and let yourselves escape into the gardening.
Once the fruits of your labor start to grow, you throw summer cookouts with homegrown veggies and festive mojitos, impressing all of your friends.
Give your home decor a bright and vibrant face lift with your partner, just in time for the warmer weather. Re-paint the front door, update the patio, de-clutter the garage or remodel the interior with some trendy, unique DIY projects. If you’re not sure where to start, choose one of these DIY projects that are perfect for couples.
Breathing new life into the space you share will bring you closer together as a team, working side-by-side to create a finished product that reflects both of your personalities.
Make an impact on the local community, with your partner by your side, with summer volunteering. Pouring yourself into work with others will enrich your connection as a couple, whether you mentor children at a religious organization, serve meals at a homeless shelter, care for animals at a pet adoption center, or spend time with residents at a nursing home. No matter what, getting involved in a meaningful cause always feels gratifying.
Get some exercise and learn a new skill that will invigorate both your bodies and the relationship: rock climbing. Not only did a 2016 survey find that rock climbing was the second most popular hobby among 1,000 polled Americans, it’s a sport that’s ideal for active couples. If you’re new, join a wall climbing gym to master the basics, then challenge each other to a real expedition in the great outdoors.
Turn it into a camping trip to enjoy a few romantic nights under the stars too.
Channel that inner “om” with your partner and take a couple’s yoga class at a local studio. This healing practice uses gentle movements to restore a natural mind-body-spirit connection, so you both can escape the stress of a fast-paced schedule and explore one another on a deeper level. Performing a yoga sequence together will boost relationship satisfaction, improve intimacy, and boost communication and trust, according to Healthline.
Hiking or Biking
Inhale that fresh summer breeze and relish the beauty of nature with your partner, while adding some cardio into the daily routine. Hiking or biking are both excellent bonding activities because they release endorphins which are known to increase pleasure and satisfaction. Plus, sharing whatever is on your heart often feels more organic in a side-by-side conversation, rather than a face-to-face confrontation.
Sharing a hobby with your significant other is a fun way to spend time together while learning something new. Boost your relationship satisfaction and decrease stress while rock climbing, gardening, winery exploring and much more.
Your first romantic getaway is a memorable rite of passage for any relationship, and when the planning begins, forget about the generic hot spots, like Vegas or Cabo. To make it truly unforgettable, choose a destination that neither of you have ever been to—better yet—never even heard of. With fewer tourists around, you’ll be free to enjoy the culture and one another without distraction.
Start your vacation prep with some research on the following unique destinations.
Port Louis, Mauritius
For the: Artisan couple
Referred to as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” this island off the African coast is a multicultural nexus with diverse attractions to keep both you and your sweetheart entertained. The waterfront capital of Port Louis, dating back to 1735, offers all the excitement of a trendy urban center. With outdoor artisan markets, upscale shopping districts, performance venues and exotic scenery, you’ll want to spend the week just taking it all in.
Photo source: Elite-Voyage
For the: Outdoors-y couple
Fringing the outskirts of metro-Phoenix, this western retreat has been described as the “desert version of Miami’s South Beach,” according to The New York Times. Once overshadowed by its more populous neighbor, Phoenix, Scottsdale is now an up-and-coming hotspot in its own right with miles of rugged hiking trails, artistic and cultural exhibits, Sonoran-inspired cuisine and a vibrant nightlife atmosphere.
This is a perfect vacation spot for the adventurous couple that enjoys wild exploration and cosmopolitan energy.
Photo source: Huffington Post
Cape Town, South Africa
For the: Little-bit-of-everything couple
Voted the “world’s best city” in 2016 by readers of Telegraph Travel, this South African capital is a beacon of post-apartheid triumph and revitalization. It’s become a mecca for vacationers of all kinds, from thrill-seekers to history buffs. Top stops include Tabletop Mountain, False Bay, and Cape Wineland.
Don’t stop there, because Cape Town is alive after sunset: “This vibey city doesn’t need much sleep and generally, the party in the city centre areas of Loop, Lang, Bree and Waterkant Streets start an hour or so before midnight,” according to Cape Town: Discover South Africa’s Most Charming City.
Photo Source: Nox Rentals
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
For the: Mountain couple
Steamboat Springs inspires romance around every spruce-lined corner. This lesser-known Rocky Mountain enclave is home to geothermal basins, idyllic white-capped peaks and ski slopes featuring “champagne powder” snow. It’s also the perfect backdrop for long days in the snow and snuggling near the fireplace all night. It’s located three hours north of Denver, and is a less touristy option if you’re interested in popular destinations like Vail or Tahoe.
Photo source: SkyRun Steamboat
For the: Luxurious couple
Known for its 3,324-foot swimming pool, which is among the world’s most expansive manmade lagoons, this South American comuna is a favorite summer playground for Santiago’s urban elite. Whisk your sweetheart to the luxurious San Alfonso del Mar resort, where you can wander hand-in-hand along a poolside promenade flanking the Pacific Ocean. Then cool off with various amenities and excursions, including scuba diving, kayaking, sailing and a waterslide that spans almost 330 feet long. No matter what you do, this luxurious town is sure to impress.
Photo source: Odd Stuff Magazine
Your first vacation as a couple is one you’ll tell friends and family about for years to come. Choose a destination that’s unique and magical, and you’re sure to have plenty of stories to share and memories to look back on.
The most common New Year’s resolution is to embrace a more active lifestyle, according to Nielson research. However, statistics also confirm that 80 percent of people abandon their fitness resolutions within just a couple months. If you want to make healthier choices for 2017, but have a track record of quickly losing interest, then it’s time to find a different approach.
One of the best ways to stay on track is to have someone who will hold you accountable, and encourage and motivate you. That person is your significant other, and after reaching your health goals together, you’ll be closer than ever.
Don’t wait until the last minute to get started. Use the following tips to jump-start your joint resolution to get healthy so you’re ready to go.
Prep Your Supplies
One of the best ways to get motivated for exercise is to buy new workout clothes. Head to the store together to pick out some new fitness gear, and make it fun by choosing outfits for each other.
While you’re at it, head to the grocery store and buy ingredients for healthy meals you can make together. When you know what healthy food each other likes, it’ll be easier for one of you to do the grocery shopping while helping the other stay on track.
Get a Gait Analysis
When you’re out buying new gear, find a shoe store that offers a free gait analysis. While this may not seem necessary, it will help you discover any potential problems with your mechanics or even the shoes you already own, that could lead to injury and de-rail your goals.
This is especially true if you plan to start running. “Running shoes are structural and functional extensions of the foot. Chosen correctly, they can improve your running. Chosen incorrectly, they can amplify biomechanical and functional flaws, increasing your risk of injury,” according to experts at Fit2Run.
The analysis is almost always free, and you’ll be better prepared before you hit the road for your first run.
Find Activities that You Both Enjoy
Pursuing a shared interest together not only enhances your appreciation for each other’s company, but it also ensures you’re both enjoying yourselves. When you like working out, you’re more likely to stay on track.
Brainstorm workout options that you both love, and can do together, whether it’s going to the gym, doing boxing or taking a swim. Most gyms provide members with free classes, which can be another fun option for you and your S.O.
Don’t be afraid to go at it alone every once in a while as well. If one of you likes rock climbing while the other prefers yoga, agree on one day a week that you’ll go separate ways for that activity.
Pick a Motivational Mantra Together
Achieving a healthier body requires a focused, composed and determined mindset, allowing you to push past the challenges that you’ll inevitably come across. A great way to stay in this mindset is to create a mantra, which has been used for centuries as a way to free the mind:
“The Sanskrit word mantra is derived from the root of man which means, “to think,” and tra from trai which means “to protect or to free from bondage” or “to free from the mind’,” explains Amarjit Singh, yoga teacher and coach.
Create a shared mantra that you can say together or alone, and use as motivation when the other person is struggling. Check out these 25 inspiring health and fitness mantras to get your creative juices flowing.
Set Your Goals and Get Competitive
Fitness is more effective and sustainable when you approach circumstances from a driven, goal-oriented perspective. Choose your goals together, perhaps having a shared goal between the two of you, and a personal one for yourself. Treat the shared goal as a competition—who can hit it first?
Reaching new milestones together will be rewarding, and having someone to compete against may be the motivating factor you’ve been missing in years past. Sometimes being the “winner” is the only thing to get you through a workout—and that’s okay.
Help your partner get fit in the New Year while building a healthy lifestyle for yourself as well. Use these ideas to get a jump-start on your goals so you’re ready to get moving right away.
Spending the holidays with a new significant other is romantic and exciting. You can make new memories and establish your own holiday traditions. Gift giving in a recently-established relationship, however, is not so simple.
It’s difficult to determine how much to spend and to find a gift that sends the right message—I like you, but I’m not rushing into this. If you’re stressed about gift giving, don’t worry, we have the tips and gift ideas you need to make shopping for your significant other a little bit easier.
Talk About It
While it may be tempting to find a sweet holiday surprise for your new S.O., it can be awkward if one person gives a gift but the other does not. Bring it up casually in conversation, like: “I really love exchanging Christmas gifts and was planning to get you something, is that OK?”
It may seem awkward to bring this up but it’s better to get it out in the open to avoid an uncomfortable situation. Not to mention, you can find out how your new boyfriend or girlfriend feels about holiday shopping, while setting some gift-giving criteria like a pre-determined price range. If he or she isn’t into gift exchanges or is too overwhelmed with holiday shopping, agree to not to do gifts this year or wait for another occasion like a birthday or Valentine’s Day.
Go the DIY Route
Do-it-yourself gifts are smart for new S.O.s because they require thought and effort but can still be inexpensive. For example, you could make a holiday survival kit if your boyfriend or girlfriend is headed home for the holidays. Not feeling inspired? Choose from this list of 20 ideas, put together by Dwelling in Happiness.
If you’re both pretty crafty, challenge each other to come up with the best DIY gift. You can even go to the craft store together and choose your materials for a fun holiday date night; don’t forget the hot coco and holiday movie when you get home.
Remember: Simple Can be Meaningful
Some of the simplest gifts are the most meaningful, especially in a new relationship when you’re learning so much about one another. Here are a few simple ideas that will go a long way:
- Playlist: Because some ideas never go out of style— this is the digital version of the classic mix tape. Make a compilation of songs you think they’d like, based on what you’ve learned so far. Or, create them a playlist of your all-time favorite songs so they can learn a little more about you while relaxing to good music.
- Framed photo: If your new S.O. has an especially important family member, consider finding an old photo of them together and framing it. If they’ve lost a parent or grandparent, this can be a touching gift. Better yet, frame a photo of the two of you on your first date, as a way to remember where it all began.
- A piece of home: If your new boyfriend or girlfriend lives far from home, buy something related to their hometown. Nostalgia goes a long way, even if it’s not a memory the two of you share.
Attend an Event or Plan an Outing
Instead of stressing over what to buy, plan an activity or outing you can both enjoy. If you want to keep it local, check out a calendar of events in your area. There are so many holiday-themed activities and festivals that make the perfect festive date night, like ice skating, Christmas tree lighting, and traditional holiday shows like the Nutcracker.
If you’d prefer to do something that’s just the two of you, plan a mini-getaway instead. According to a 2016 holiday survey, travel is the most popular gift on Americans’ holiday wish lists this year and you don’t have to plan an expensive vacation to take advantage. Take a weekend road trip, plan a picnic, or plan a staycation and buy tickets to see every tourist thing in town.
Cook, Don’t Shop
Between work, family obligations, travel, and shopping, the holidays can be stressful. So instead of shopping, cook—your sweetie will be grateful for a cozy night in, and you can impress him or her with your culinary skills.
Try to cook a meal you think they’d love, based on what you learned about them, or re-create the dinner you had on your first date to add a sentimental touch. Don’t forget to set the scene with holiday candles, nice plates and a good bottle of red wine or champagne.
Turn it Into a Game
If you’ve agreed to exchange gifts, turn it into a fun event rather than a stressful one. Set a price range and time limit, go to your local mall or shopping center, and see what kind of gems you can find within your price range and time limit. Exchange right then and there, or keep them a secret, wrap everything up and exchange later.
If you’re still stumped, check out even more fun gift ideas we have for you. Just remember, you don’t have to spend or plan a lot to give a memorable gift to your new S.O. A simple DIY basket or custom playlist goes a long way in showing that you care.