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At times, dating can feel more like a chore or a box to check than a way of forming genuine connection between two people. Online and mobile dating has made it easier to find people but made it harder to really get to know one another behind all the Instagram photos and pithy one-liners.

Are you tired of the same, cliche dinner-and-drinks dates? Do you find there’s not enough time to actually talk on a movie date? You’re not the only one.

It’s about time to kick your dating routine up a notch. Shake up your romantic repertoire with some fun and mentally stimulating date ideas that will take your relationship to a more mindful level.

Here are some alternative dates that will actually allow you and your partner to engage with each other in a meaningful way– while also making a positive impact.

1. Pick a documentary film

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Skip the chick flicks or adventure films and try a documentary to get the conversation stirring.

“Find a topic of mutual interest about the environment, medical advances, addressing poverty or homelessness, educational innovation, even politics,” suggests mid-life coach and author, Rosalind Sedacca.

After the film, grab a drink or dinner and discuss the documentary. “This creates a wonderful opportunity to talk about relevant and challenging issues of importance today,” she adds.

Not only can you find documentaries in the theater– they can also be streamed on Netflix or other cable networks.

“There’s so much to discuss together that brings you in touch with your values, insights, and cultural mores leading to more meaningful connection than watching the latest blockbuster,” continues Sedacca.

2. Try a slow dance

There’s something romantic about putting on some crooner music and dancing with your significant other, says Christine Scott-Hudson, MA MFT ATR, a licensed psychotherapist.

“Tune in to some golden oldies,” she says. ”Play some romantic ballads, such as some Frank Sinatra music, in the car on the way to dinner. You could dance at a park or a festival, at the restaurant, or even at the farmer’s market on your date.”

When you hear the music, extend your arm, grab your partner by the hand, look deeply into their eyes, and give them a twirl, says Scot- Hudson. You don’t even have to be the world’s best dancer– have some laughs, be yourself, be goofy, be genuine, and have some fun.

3. Visit a college town


Meander through a college town for an enriching and enjoyable experience together. Often, there are museums to tour, concerts to enjoy and historic sites to see.

Also, college theaters are also a wonderful opportunity to see artists and shows. The McCarter Theatre, for example, on the campus of Princeton University, offers professional performances year-round on one of the most iconic college campuses in the United States.

4. Volunteer for a cause you share

Giving back to your community surely will build your connection and make the world you share a better place. Whether it’s visiting a local hospital together, fostering animals, building homes, working a local food pantry or joining a bike race to raise funds, this commitment to charity does a relationship good.

It will also help you grow– separately and together– which is the ultimate goal of a good relationship.