If You’re Sick Of Zoom, You’ll Love These Brilliant Long-Distance Date Ideas

Photo credit: Kwanchai Lerttanapunyaporn / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kwanchai Lerttanapunyaporn / EyeEm – Getty Images

From Women’s Health

FaceTime fatigue in your long-distance relationship? Same. The good news: Brainstorming some exciting, long-distance date ideas that are more interesting than a video chat from your couch is easier than you think.

“According to multiple studies, the key to a successful LDR comes down to three factors: structure, clear expectations, and having mutual goals,” says Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, PhD, assistant professor of relational and sexual communication at California State University, Fullerton. “Scheduling remote dates hits all three of these factors. Your online dating life has a structure. You can expect when they’re going to happen. And, you’re mutually looking forward to the same goal, which is having a good time connecting.”

Megan Bearce, LMFT, relationship coach, speaker and author of the book Super Commuter Couples: Staying Together When A Job Keeps You Apart, echoes this sentiment, adding that it’s important to recognize how your better half prefers to connect and what activities you each enjoy as a window to get to know each other on a deeper level. Bearce recommends considering guiding questions like “do you take turns planning the remote date?” and “do you make it a surprise and drop hints in the days leading up?” when planning your dates from afar.

“Regular dates form layers of connection in your relationship,” says Bearce. “Think of a rope. One made of a single string may break easily, but several strings of experiences interwoven become very strong and can handle more strain.”

Whatever date idea you settle on for your long-distance date night, Suwinyattichaiporn recommends keeping a few things in mind.

  • First, pick a time during which each partner can be fully present (this may take a bit of troubleshooting to find the best window if you’re in different time zones).

  • Then, set the mood by getting dressed as you would for an IRL date, lighting candles, and putting on your favorite perfume or scent.

  • End each date with a “relationship check-in session” to promote connection and understanding.

As you brainstorm ideas, you may want to aim for activities that teach you something new, spark creativity, and help you achieve goals together as a team—even if you’re 500 miles apart. To get the wheels turning, read on for 20 long-distance date ideas that are so fun even your shacked-up friends may want to split up for the evening and give one or two a whirl.

1. Host a book club for two.

Audiobooks are well suited to sharing a chapter or two via video chat to get the party started. As all book club members know, half the fun is deciding on the title, so work with your S.O. to create a list of top contenders. (Umm, may I suggest one of these erotic novels? Why not?!)

For weekly discussion sections, send study questions to each other to inform and inspire your conversations. P.S. You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from someone by the way they dissect Holden Caulfield and Holly Golightly…just sayin’.

2. Take a Mastercass.

With instructional classes from some of the world’s leaders in their craft, Masterclass ($15 a month) streams lessons on everything from writing for young readers with Judy Blume to jazz with Herbie Hancock. Switch up who gets to pick the classes, take them at your own leisure, and then schedule a weekly “discussion session” so you can review what you learned, pose thought-provoking questions, and share your takeaways with each other. Bonus points if you ace your fruit tart technique in Dominique Ansel’s French Pastry Fundamentals class and have something to gift your love’s parents come the holidays.

3. Cook your favorite childhood dishes.

Before your date, email your partner a beloved recipe from childhood (be sure to do so a few days in advance to leave time for food shopping) and have them do the same. When you’re ready to cook, set up any tech you’ll need to share video in the kitchen.

“Spend time cooking together and talk about your childhood in more detail; things that remind you of positive moments when you were kids,” says Suwinyattichaiporn (here’s to you, Aunt Su’s chocolate chip cookies). “This date promotes connection and deep understanding of your partner. Of course, you can end this session with eating, which everybody loves, and the relationship check-in questions,” too.

4. Plan a future trip.

Even if you’re not planning on hitting the road anytime soon, you can practically feel the serotonin jolt in your brain as you create itineraries for your perfect vacation. Do it the old-fashioned way and jot down your dream vacation plans with pen and paper and then share on the phone or video chat. Or, head to the “Saved” tab under “Your Places” in Google Maps and click the “+” icon to create a new map where you can save hotels, restaurants, museums, and other activities. Share the link with your partner to add or edit as they please.

5. Game night!

Hey, you don’t have to let the space between you prevent some good old-fashioned competition. Whether you choose to play chess, Scrabble, or even a video game, countless websites and apps make it easy to play with a loved one even if you’re not physically together.

Try Jackbox Games, which is known for action-packed, humorous party games such as Fibbage and Quiplash. Using your smartphone as your controller, it’s easy to play these games virtually through Zoom (here’s a quick tutorial), and you can create customized episodes for a themed date night.

6. Solve a Zoom escape room challenge.

Ready to work on your skills as a team, troubleshoot, and solve puzzles with your partner in crime? A quick Google search for “Zoom escape room” or “virtual escape room” yields countless results and gets the seal of approval from Lauren Cook, PsyD: “It’s a great way to get creative and have fun in the process,” she says. “Be wowed by your partner’s ability to solve a mystery and come up with a solution together.”

7. Do a virtual museum tour.

This is a fun way to get to know your mate’s city even if you’re not spending much time there. Let one person pick the venue and find a great virtual tour experience in advance and you can “visit” together with the help of technology. “Hearing what each other sees in art is really revealing and can lead to great conversations,” says Bearce.

8. Drink up with a wine or beer tasting.

Compare tasting notes as you sample vino or a few brews for a relaxed happy hour activity that doesn’t require leaving home. Decide on a winery or brewery and place your order in advance (even better if you can find one offering Facebook Live tasting sessions led by a sommelier or cicerone). Or, order from a company like In Good Taste Wines, which specializes in by-the-glass patented tasting flights like the California Wine Mixer and Wild Child Flight (both $65 for eight wines).

For a non-alcoholic adventure, the options are virtually endless, but if you’re not kombucha or coffee fans, try the Discovery Pack ($18) from Partake Brewing with Blonde, Pale, Red, IPA, and Stout non-alcoholic beers.

9. House hunt.

Not that you already have a secret spreadsheet of fantasy homes or anything. (*Raises hand.*)

“Look at houses in an area both people would like to live in for the future and discuss the pros and cons,” suggests Alicia Walker, PhD, an assistant professor of sociology at Missouri State University and relationship expert. “This is a great way to dream together and discover shared preferences.”

10. Channel your inner Picasso and paint.

There are plenty of painting tutorials on YouTube, but for something more formal, try Painting with a Twist studios’ Twist At Home kits ($29-$49), which include a canvas, paint, paintbrushes, and step-by-step written instructions (some kits also include video tutorials). An ocean or state lines may separate you, but this affords you the chance to bond and create a keepsake in just a few hours. Connect on video chat so you can check in on each other’s progress as you go, or do the activity separately on a designated day and then mail your painting to your partner.

11. Have a movie night.

Once the popcorn is ready, fire up the Squad app, a co-watching platform designed for screen sharing. Through the messaging feature, you can chime in with your thoughts on that Little Fires Everywhere cliffhanger or the fashion of Annie Hall throughout the evening. Worth noting: In addition to streaming long-form content like movies and TV shows together, the app integrates with YouTube and TikTok, too, if you’re just in the mood for a quick shared laugh or five-minute puppy video.

12. Send a KOYA.

Free to download, KOYA lets you replicate the feeling of in-person spontaneity and fun by letting users send thoughtful gifts, say, a takeout meal from your significant other’s favorite restaurant or money to buy coffee from their favorite coffee shop. To use, you choose a location, record a video or voice message, include an optional PayPal gift, and schedule when you want the KOYA to be delivered. To make it more interactive, you can also send “hints,” or messages designed to help them unlock their gift, almost as if they’re on a scavenger hunt.

13. Take a yoga class.

Planning a remote yoga date can be as easy as typing “Yoga with Adriene” into YouTube and agreeing on a video to try together or as elaborate as signing up for a private partner yoga virtual class with a live instructor.

After you’ve gotten your flow on, connect via video chat for a post-workout smoothie session—these healthy smoothie recipes should give you plenty of inspiration.

14. Go hiking.

Get your pedometer chugging and hit the trails for a restorative date in nature. “If you can each schedule time where you are walking around your respective communities, this is a great way to enjoy some fresh air, get some exercise, and connect with your partner,” says Cook. Up the ante with a checklist of items like birds, trees, wildlife species, and bodies of water to see who can tick everything off first.

15. Watch a concert.

Many musicians and bands are digging into their archives to air memorable shows or livestreaming performances for people to enjoy from the comfort of their homes. Sure, it’s no substitute for a blanket, picnic basket, and the setting sun with summer’s poetic breeze, but it’s definitely an enjoyable alternative.

Try:

16. Grow a garden.

Whether you have a windowsill with a few inches to spare or yards of outdoor space, there’s something incredibly rewarding about growing your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Once you’ve both settled on what you’re growing, buy the seeds, and get to potting and planting. Snap pictures on a weekly basis so you can share your garden’s evolution with each other. When you’re reunited, be sure to use some of the season’s bounty when preparing a meal together.

17. Create a photo album together.

Pick a vacation or theme and make a shared folder on your phone or through an app like Google Drive or Dropbox. You’ll both enjoy reliving precious memories and after you’ve spent an hour or two making the final selections for the album, treat each other to a photo collage designed by indie artists from Minted, a custom-printed photo album, or a digital picture frame from Aura, a simple photo-sharing app and IRL frame that lets you line up photos in advance and share them to each other’s frame one by one. Cute!

18. Meditate.

Apps like Headspace have live group meditation sessions that make it easy to zen out as a unit, even if you’re miles apart. There’s something powerful about having the shared experience of silence together, and many LDR couples may enjoy making meditation a weekly or even daily ritual. If you’re not into the app thing, simply decide on a time and theme for contemplation—say, love, compassion, creativity—so you can both hit your meditation pillow (ahem, desk chair) and get to it. Even though you’re far away, there’s something nice in knowing you’re both carving a few minutes out of your day at the same moment to disconnect and recharge together.

19. Try a virtual date night with the Box42.

Though Box42 is known for creating date night subscription boxes for couples, they recently launched a virtual date night designed for lovebirds to try over Zoom. This free activity includes a handful of “missions,” like asking each other meaningful questions, mixing up a cocktail, and learning a new dance move together. (Related: Take This Couples Quiz To See How Well You Know Your Partner)

20. Put on your dancing shoes.

Break a sweat and bust a move by enrolling in a virtual dancing class together. Not only will it give you something to look forward to doing together in-person one day, but you’ll both have the chance to see your skills improve as you go.

If you prefer to go the app route, STEEZY Studio (one-week free trial; from $20/month), recently launched STEEZY Party, which allows duos or groups to take on-demand digital dance tutorials. The app itself also has 600+ classes in a variety of modern styles like hip-hop and breakdance.

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