Create Some Chemistry!
By Matt Schneiderman
You’ve had a pleasant date or two, but you “just aren’t feeling it…” yet. Rest assured, attraction isn’t always instant: Research shows that it typically takes a guy three meetings to fall for a woman—and as many as 20 dates for her to feel the same. Plus, there are things you can do during these early rendezvous that’ll help get some chemistry percolating and jump-start your budding relationship. So, consider skipping your typical dinner date and trying one of these options to get a buzz going between you.
Date idea #1: Go hunting
No, not the hunting that requires killing furry creatures—rather, the two of you taking on a mission to find something, be it a gift for Mother’s Day or some much-needed furniture for your date’s den. Errand-running may not seem very romantic, but it’s actually a modern-day version of an ancient bonding ritual where people had to hunt together to survive. Says David Givens, Ph.D., an anthropologist and author of Love Signals: A Practical Field Guide to the Body Language of Courtship, “Searching involves reward, and the shared pleasure when you find, say, the perfect jacket—is reminiscent of the hunter-gatherers finding food.” So, don’t be surprised if by the end of your shopping spree you start feeling a real connection with your partner in crime.
Date idea #2: Get dizzy
According to one study, men and women who met on a bridge high over rushing water rated each other as more attractive than those they met elsewhere. The lesson for you? Vertigo is your friend. “There’s something about staring down dizzying distances that makes the heart grow fonder, perhaps because the adrenaline rush, sweaty palms, and racing pulse you feel bears a striking resemblance to the sensations you experience during — you got it — sexual arousal, and people can’t help but transfer those feelings to the person they’re with,” notes Givens. So, got a hot date coming up? We’re not suggesting you say, “Meet me on a bridge”—that would be too odd, for sure. But you can propose heading to that restaurant or lounge that’s nearly always situated atop a city’s highest skyscraper. Or, try a rooftop bar or venue where there’s a balcony. Go rock climbing, or hiking up a mountain. Just think: The higher you go, the more attracted you’ll be to each other!
Date idea #3: Attend a group dining experience
Move the typical date meal away from the two-top (that's waiter-speak for “table for two”) and into a communal dining spot—like the grill-table at a Benihana-style Japanese place or a shared table at a busy Italian or German restaurant. Eating amongst others not only takes the pressure off you both to continue an ongoing tête-à-tête, it also helps to establish the two of you as a de facto couple. According to Givens, we all have a common fear of strangers, and individuals will bond more closely with the person they know best when interacting with a bunch of people. “In a group setting, you're a pair united against a world of strangers,” says Givens. And that will get you bonding more strongly.
Date idea #4: Get in touch with your artistic sides
Even if you’re no Picasso, proposing a pottery, painting, or mosaic class can make you see your date in a whole new (and sexier) light. That’s because creative endeavors are more intuitive and sensory-driven than your more rational, logical, date-night activities like conversations about books you’ve read recently, or the pros and cons of telecommuting. Plus, if you’re working on creating something together, even better. Couples at all relationship stages bond this way, whether they’re making babies, renovating their fixer-upper, or just trying out a Thai recipe for the first time. “You’'re no longer strangers when you’re trying to make the same pot,” points out Givens. “You’ll get to like each other pretty fast, and it creates a natural synchronicity.”
Date idea #5: Get nosy
Of all your five senses, scent will kick-start the mood like no other. “Smell is chemical,” says Givens. “It activates the emotional part of the brain.” So, by comparing notes at a wine-, sake- or cheese-tasting, or breathing in the aromas at a local lilac or orchid festival, you two will be all the more tuned into more sentimental thoughts—maybe even about each other.
Date idea #6: Dance, dance, dance
Get your eyes locked, your feet in step and your hands all over each other… at a ballroom dancing lesson. According to Travis Hendricks, an instructor at Dance New York (which sent two contestants to participate in Dancing With the Stars), the latest dance craze is salsa. “It’s such a sensual dance,” says Hendricks. “You dance very close.” If the Latin dance doesn't appeal, try learning the cha-cha or Peabody. Regardless of your dance preference, you'll find you and your date moving towards a real connection because it forces you to get your bodies in synch and mirror each other’s movements—a proven tactic for forging a bond. “Dancing is an immediate way to get on the same page,” says Givens. “It has both a tactile and a visual dimension of sameness, which creates great rapport.”
Date idea #7: Play a game together
Whether it’s playing pool or Taboo, a little competition can create instant chemistry. Just avoid head-to-head competition early on—no one likes being on the losing end, so try teaming up against another couple or some pals. That way, you reap the benefits of game play, win or lose. “When you're paired together against other people, you and your date become natural allies,” says Givens. “Your mutual aggression is going outwards. It’s a very strong way to bond.”
New York City-based freelance writer Matt Schneiderman has written for Stuff and Sync.
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