This Is Why Couples Don't Always Feel Closer After A Romantic Date Night

Written by Margaret Paul, PhD
Margaret Paul, PhD, is a best-selling author, relationship expert, and Inner Bonding® facilitator. She has counseled individuals and couples since 1968.

Image by Joao Jovanovic x Stocksy / Stocksy

Have you ever tried to create connection and intimacy by lighting candles, putting on music, drinking some wine, and dressing in sexy lingerie—only to have the experience fall flat? Or what about planning a date night such as having dinner and going to a movie, only to find that you don't actually feel close and connected when you get home?

The thing is that all these are great if both people are already connected, but they don't create connection.

Connection or disconnection is about what's happening between two people energetically. It's about whether they feel safe and open with each other—safe to share themselves and their feelings without worrying about their partner getting angry, critical, blaming, or withdrawn.

While it's up to each of us to learn to create inner safety by learning how to take loving care of our feelings and by speaking our truth with others, it's up to both partners to create a safe relationship space for each person to feel free to be fully themselves. It's a safe relationship space that creates connection and intimacy.

What creates a safe relationship space?

A safe space is created when:

  • Each person learns to take responsibility for their own feelings rather than blaming each other and making each other responsible for their feelings.
  • Each person is open to learning about themselves and each other rather than trying to control each other with anger, blame, criticism, or withdrawal.
  • We treat each other with kindness, caring, and respect, and we are empathetic and compassionate with each other.
  • We each have the courage to be honest and speak our truth without blame or judgment.

Granted, none of this is easy, but imagine how connected and intimate you would feel with your partner if the energy between you felt this clear and safe?

Let's think about a few examples.

Let's say you and your partner are making love and something he or she does hurts you. Do you stay quiet and bear it because you are afraid if you speak up your partner will get upset and withdraw—or get angry and blame you for ruining the experience? Or do you feel safe enough to say "ouch," knowing that your partner will care about hurting you and feel compassion for you? If you can't safely speak up, how does this affect your connection and intimacy?

Or let's say your partner does something that feels harsh or judgmental toward you. Do you let it go and "make nice" out of fear of them being closed, uncaring, defensive, or angry? Or can you tell your partner how you feel ("That felt harsh and judgmental, and that feels hurtful to me. I'd like to understand what's happening that you are feeling this way. Can we talk about it?") while feeling safe that your partner will open with you to resolve the issue? If you don't feel safe to speak up, you're not feeling close and connected with your partner. If you feel that you can speak up and reach understanding and resolution through it, you are.

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Why romantic date nights don't help.

If you don't feel safe to speak your truth, having a date night or setting the atmosphere with candles and wine is not going to increase your connection. Creating a lovely scene to be together or going out to have fun together can result in a wonderful time if you are already connected, but it will likely feel forced and unsatisfying if you are not creating a safe relationship space in which to feel close and connected with each other.

Connection and intimacy flow easily and naturally when you have both done the inner and relationship work to create a sense of freedom and safety in your relationship.

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