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Sex + Relationships

Valentines’ Edition: Ten Lovely Dates for the Romantics and Dreamers

While I did pitch this idea to write, thinking about the lovebirds I photograph and dates I, myself, would love to venture on, I cannot forget the hopeless romantics, myself included, admittedly, that need dates to go on also! After drafting ideas, I have come to the realization that most things on this list do not need a significant other! I hope when people read this, they love the people they care most about, including themselves!


1.     Your typical restaurant dates (also suitable for friends + yourself)


Now, I know it’s so cheesy, but this will always be special. Every couple needs date nights once in a while, but especially as the days gear up towards Valentine’s Day, it is a time when you’re thinking, what can I do to make him, or her, happy?


Recently, my friend that visited me in Winona told me her boyfriend took her out to a nice restaurant and bought her candy to watch a movie afterwards. In addition to all this, he dropped her off to see me for a girls’ night after. While this sounds like a simple date, it goes a long way. Sometimes, you do not always have to go over the top and be extra.


But, on the other hand, if a boy were to ask me to dress up and go to Crave’s for Valentine’s Day, there would be no way I’d say no.


2.     Movie nights (also suitable for friends + yourself)


This is definitely something you can do by yourself but having someone to chat with after watching a Netflix film beats both alone and with your significant other. I will always prefer to go see a movie with my best friends. While you can buy your loved one snacks before the movie, I do not mind sneaking in food from my own kitchen and reviewing every film trope after it’s all over.


In addition to that, if you saw a movie with a friend instead of a significant other, you would not be tempted to do anything your parents tell you not to do.



3.     Game hour (also suitable for friends)


Being home over break and practically forced to fifth wheel with two couples, I got to see what couples in love were doing in the pandemic. Simple things like board games, Nintendo Switch, or playing music has become wholesome in relationships and allows lovers to get to know one another better. Possibly, if you are more serious in a relationship, you could even have a question game about how the two of you envision your lives. I’ve heard people say the pandemic is either making or breaking relationships because everyone is confined or with limited people.


My family had nights playing Mexican Train until late. This game has about 15 rounds depending on your dominoes amount, and each round can be up to ten or thirty minutes! I come back to Winona, and my roommate’s coworker brings Pick Your Poison, a fun “Would You Rather” game. This had us dying in laughter for hours on just one question.



4.     Reading


I don’t know if you have ever been read to from your significant other, but when the boy I personally was in love with a few years ago read to me, it burned my soul (pulling that Bridgerton reference… if you know, you know).


Actually, I am glad I brought this up. It is such a tiny thing, but it brings another kind of reassurance and care for someone just through their voice. Especially when you really like someone, hearing their voice and even hearing them talk for that matter is enough to make yourself happy.


While I do love reading alone too, I would like to not have that as a loving-yourself mechanism, especially depending on the book you’re reading. There are many self-care books and the educational “what to do when you’re in your 20s and confused” sort of thing, however, many books that I and my peers read are fiction! The biggest concern from this, and movies too, are taking away the ideas of such high standards that in our world and generation are nearly impossible to reach. Chances are that you will not grow up and fall in love with that neighbor you knew as a friend.


5.     Painting (also suitable for friends + yourself)


This is the greatest for groups and self-care. While I love painting even by myself, sometimes I get lonely, and even uninspired. When you paint with friends, the room becomes lively with everyone bouncing ideas off of one another. You could even start a little paint-fight. Make sure to wear clothes you do not care about!


Personally, for me before COVID, my friends invited me for a paint & wine night. This group of girls became my best friends throughout last year. I call them my girl gang because we did other things together afterwards, but it was painting that brought us together.



6.     Walk or skate outside in the park (also suitable for friends + yourself)


It’s a little different right now with all the snow in our Minnesota winter, but I LOVE going for walks. Even by myself, it was a thing I tried to do in the morning when I would wake up two summers ago. Any disconnection from the media is healthy for you! Not only is it beneficial to feeling good, but it also gets your body moving. You can also go running with a friend!


In addition, I add skating because it’s something that can be done in Minnesota winters! I do not skate, but this is perfect for cute date ideas or some fun activity not involving being stuck in your home all day with roommates!


7.     Cooking (also suitable for friends)


I cannot cook for my life. This is why I think the cutest thing ever, especially since quarantine began, is seeing couples cook together. Every time I go home, I lowkey expect a chef’s dinner from my mom and her fiancée. They find recipes together and try new things all the time. In addition, it helps if you got that Costco membership, but if you’re in Winona, food places are pretty limited.


8.     Music (also suitable for yourself)


I do not know why, but it is a sign of commitment sharing music together. When couples start getting to know one another, and one wants to introduce you to a song they have been listening to, it is like sharing another language.


However, there is something I find so content just listening to my music by myself. I love creating Spotify playlists. I’ve had more time in the pandemic to go through each and change what was in the older playlists. I have my Spotify playlists based on boys I’ve liked, moods that I am in, and even for my mornings. Spend some time on your Spotify and try new tunes!


9.     Star-gazing


So, this one I actually thought about because of my coworker! I spent a lot of time with people from my work over the summer. We worked incredibly late shifts, until 3 a.m. sometimes, then we would go up to Garvin Heights to look out and watch the sun rise, or the leftover stars that were still out. I remember her telling me once she wanted someone there to look out at the stars with her because she did it alone all the time.


Even though she said she wanted someone to be out there with, I thought of the idea of just going outside to watch the stars alone as wholesome and self-loving. Giving yourself a chance to think about life with a pretty view would be an amazing way to get to know yourself. I would love to do this when I finally have my own car!



10. Night routine


This is a super random one, but I thought about this after doing face masks with my best friend over FaceTime! It would be kind of strange to do night routines together in person, but having to expand activities over the phone, this is a great idea. I ended up trying on a whim, but I am sharing little things from my night routine online now. I actually hated skin-care advertisements, but now finding what is best for my face is fun. My bathroom cabinet looks like an actual drug store of skin-care products.


There are so many more date ideas to come up with that are good not just for couples, but for your friends, or even by yourself! I think if you are single, it is necessary to bring yourself on a date, or in other words, to treat yourself! Bringing friends or your significant other is just an add-on. Being by yourself is never a negative, but a neutral, and I hope people remember those words when Valentine’s Day swings around!


Natalie Elle Tyler is a senior at Winona State majoring in Creative Digital Media. She is minoring in Dance, Creative Writing, and Journalism. Natalie manages her own photography business. When she isn’t writing, she’s either doing a photoshoot, hanging out with friends, or dancing. Her ultimate dream is to make book covers through her photography while having the time to be a freelance travel photographer or photojournalist.
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