You’re probably fed up of small talk on Zoom.
It can be hard to connect with someone when there’s… nothing new to talk about.
We’re almost all in a cycle of working from home/on furlough/looking for employment then spending the evenings on Netflix or Zoom calls with friends. Going out for a daily walk is probably the highlight of the day.
So you might be wondering what to do for Valentine’s Day this week.
TV psychologist Honey Langcaster-James told Metro.co.uk recommends introducing a fun activity instead of a regular call if you’re apart or Netflix marathon if you’re together.
‘For couples who are kept apart this Valentine’s Day, it could be tempting to just have yet another video call, but for many people video calling has become heavily associated with work following endless Zoom calls and Teams meetings.
‘Doing a fun activity together can be a great way to ensure that your virtual date night, actually feels like a date.
‘Doing something together that feels fun and frivolous, also helps to activate the pleasure centres in your brain and it makes it more of a significant event, rather than just another call,’ Honey says.
On a date in ‘normal’ life, you’d likely be incorporating activities into dates more naturally. Honey says that studies have shown the brain unconsciously picks up on playful cues in the facial expression of others. We do this to judge the mood of an interaction.
‘When you’re doing a fun activity together, your partner will be getting signals of the light and playful tone that aren’t there when you’re only chatting.
‘If you experience fun and joy every time you see your partner, that will build up associations of positive emotions in your brain with that person, all leading to increased social bonds between you.’
With this in mind, Honey has has teamed up with The Lego Group to suggest different activity dates for this Valentine’s Day (though we say you can still use them after) that will strengthen a relationship.
You might feel awkward looking at some of the ideas on a first glance if they’re different to your usual date activities, but Honey says it actually can benefit the date because it ‘tends to lead to humour and it can help lead to cooperation and negotiation, as you step forward to help each other out and offer reassurance to one another.’
Take some inspiration from the seven activity dates below.
Get in touch with your playful and creative side by choosing an activity that requires focus and cooperation, like building a Lego set together (there are ones aimed at adults). You could get the same set and build together over a virtual call.
You will foster communication skills and also get a shared sense of achievement when you complete the activity. Cooperating on a task, which is rewarding upon its completion, can increase social bonding.
Try doing something that makes you focus on looking lovingly into your partner’s eyes – like sitting opposite each other and drawing a portrait, or perhaps doing your partner’s hair or makeup. If you’re not living together, you could gaze at each other first then begin drawing. If you end up giggling it will just give you a boost of endorphins, our natural feel-good chemicals.
The main benefits of this task are the opportunities for self-expression it allows, and the fact that sitting opposite each other to study your partner’s facial features, will increase your ‘eye-gazing’ behaviours. Staring into each other’s eyes really does lead to increased feelings of attraction and intimacy so it can be a great trick to increase your bond.
Spend a day in each other’s shoes
Empathy has been shown to foster altruism and cooperation, so why not have a little bit of fun by swapping roles with each other for the day. If you’re game, you could even dress up as each other and see what it’s literally like to walk in your partner’s shoes.
This fun activity could teach you some new things about what it’s like to be your partner and that gives you a whole new perspective. Swapping roles can also foster emotional empathy as well as being fun to capture on camera.
Eat your memories
For established couples, think of past holidays you’ve shared together, or special locations, and then create a menu that helps transport you back there. Feeling nostalgic has been shown to increase social bonds, so a culinary trip down memory lane could bring you closer together.
If you’re newly dating, you could tell each other what to cook then while eating the food explain why that menu means a lot to you.
Create a cocktail
Make your own cocktail mix, but with all the ingredients representing aspects of your personalities and relationship. If your partner were a cocktail would they be sweet, strong, tall, short, fruity, or fresh?
Explain your reasoning to each other – it’s the perfect opportunity to flatter. Expect to blush.
Exercise produces endorphins and improves your mood, so doing something physical together can increase positive feelings in general.
If you try something new together – virtually or in person – you’ll need to rely on supporting one another and engage in team work. Being competitive with your other half in a light-hearted way and teasing one another can be flirtatious.
Create a playlist
Listening to music together can be more romantic if you pick tracks that are meaningful to past moments you’ve shared, or if in a new relationship it can be a way to get to know each other better.
Songs can act as powerful memory cues, and can bring back romantic feelings and memories of significant events. You’ll have a great playlist to listen back to in the future.
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