Valentine’s Day is upon us, which means you’re probably feeling some pressure to take that special person in your life out for a fancy schmancy dinner or to a movie. But you’re better than that. You’re more fun, and your date probably is too. So, come Friday why not take them out for a slightly more adventurous date? After all, adrenaline is a hormone. For example, what could be more romantic than watching the sun set from a mountain top?
But be warned, there can be a fine, fine line between getting your special someone excited and making them terrified. Everyone can watch a movie, but not everyone can pick up mountain biking or rock climbing on the very first try. Here’s how to make sure your “actividate” is a success.
Do start slow
It’s age-old dating advice: don’t blow your load on the first date. Maybe you’ve wanted to tick off a multi-pitch alpine climb or your first century ride, but don’t do that now. Save the big stuff for later. Especially if you both love date number one, you’ll have something even more adventurous to look forward to in the future.
Don’t try to teach
Many a relationship has been ruined by a well-intentioned “Sure, I’ll teach you how to surf/golf/mountain bike.” This can be particularly painful if one person is extra skilled or has been doing it their whole life and doesn’t remember the learning curve. If you want your sweetheart to learn to love skiing or climbing as much as you do, buy them lessons.
Do bring snacks
Low blood sugar can lead to bonking, tears and a ruined date. “Hanger” is a real thing, and sharing a Snickers on top of a peak with someone you’re crushing on is extra sweet. So do bring munchies; extra points if you up your game from ramen and Clif Bars to a more sophisticated meal.
Don’t cut off your exit route
Committing to a weekend away sounds romantic, but before you know the person well, maybe a single day activity is best, just in case.
Do consider their interests
Maybe you love spending an entire day thigh-deep in a river fishing for steelhead. Maybe they, um, do not. Forcing all of your favorite activities on people is a great way to make them resistant.
Don’t show off
By all means, introduce your date to your favorite sport but you don’t need to show them just how good you are right off the bat. If they like you, they will appreciate a subtle look at your skill, and if they’re unsure, a look-at-me attitude can turn them off quickly. Conversely, if they end up being better than you at your chosen activity you are not allowed to get pouty.
Do something that’s new for both of you, which will put you on an even playing field. Go geocaching or check out a new bike path in your neighborhood.
Don’t forget to stop
Yes, putting up a speedy descent or becoming “Strava King of the Mountain” is fun. But know what’s more fun? Make out breaks. Don’t rush it.
Do stick together
Set out on a road ride and realize you spin at totally different paces? Resist the urge to pedal along at your normal paces. Slow your roll (or have them slow theirs). This isn’t about being the best, it’s about being together.
Good Adventure Date Ideas
Biking, hiking, pretty much anything with a dog, watersports (less clothes!), novelty races
Bad Adventure Date Ideas
Climbing, surfing, base jumping, snowboarding, anything that involves lessons right off the bat, any activity that requires a lot of equipment