Face it, you’re probably not going to fall madly in lust while making polite conversation over roast chicken and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. You’ve got a much better chance of forging an electric connection if you ditch your routine date destinations and try a slightly offbeat activity with potentially erotic undercurrents. Here are ten suggestions that will help get the electricity between you two crackling.
1. Play hooky. Why restrict your dates to weekend nights? Agree to each take a sick day and spend it indulging. Share a long lunch (with wine), catch an afternoon movie, browse in near-empty shops or do whatever else you never get time to do on the weekends. “It’s sexy because you’ll feel naughty since you’re doing something a little taboo together,” says Ian Kerner, author of DSI: Date Scene Investigation.
2. Take in some subtitles. Catching a movie is a stand-by date activity for a reason—namely, it’s a great way to log some time with somebody you’re just getting to know without having to stare each other down over a drinks or a meal. But instead of getting sucked into watching the wannabe-blockbuster of the week, hit a foreign film, whether a new one or a classic (the French Belle de Jour and the Italian La Dolce Vita are two erotically charged options to look out for at your local revival house). There’s something inherently sexier about watching a film in another language—maybe it’s that listening to a foreign tongue for ninety minutes lulls you into a dreamy state of mind or that it makes you and your date suddenly feel like travel partners even though you haven’t left the local multiplex.
3. Flirt surrounded by flora. OK, you probably haven’t considered going to a botanical garden since your grandmother came to town. But think about it: Where else can you feast your senses on natural beauty without putting on hiking shoes? “The botanical garden near me is really pretty in the early evening,” says Kevin Wells, 28, who has taken more than one date there. “And there are lots of scenic spots where you can make out if you’re so inclined.”
4. Try the tapas trend. It seems like at least half of the buzz-heavy new restaurants out there specialize in “small plates,” appetizer-sized portions that are meant to be ordered in multiples and shared. Luckily, this style of dining is perfect for dates. You’ll bond while debating the merits of different menu options, and find that leaning across the table to eat off of the same dishes — with a perfect excuse to feed each other — stirs up a lot more intrigue than staying hunched over individual entrees would.
5. Go back to school. Taking a class, whether a one-night seminar or a weekly thing, is a guaranteed way to get close. “When you learn something new together you feel like a team, which is very bonding,” says Kerner. And if you pick an area of study that’s a little sensual you boost the odds that sparks will start flying. Think courses that involve physical touch, like reflexology, or which engage the senses, such as a wine or Scotch tasting.
6. Go out to breakfast. You look and feel your sexiest when you’re relaxed, but the standard dinner date — in a noisy restaurant, with a waiter pressuring you to run up your tab with sparkling water — can make a chilled-out state impossible. It’s much easier to be languid over a weekend breakfast, which is why meeting a potential mate for the first meal of the day can actually be a better idea. Just pick a café where you can linger over your coffee, rather than a diner where they’ll try to shuttle you out the door in under a half hour. You’ll be able to assess each other in your pre-caffeinated states—and if you like what you see it will be a sexy preview of how your mornings will be once you start waking up together!
7. Check out some R-rated art. Visiting a museum or gallery exhibit filled with subtly suggestive painting or sculpture will bring the subject of sex front and center. However, since the works come with “high art” credentials, you won’t feel sleazy or bashful about seeing it with somebody you still don’t know all that well. For classic options, look for Andrew Wyeth’s nudes, Georgia O’Keefe’s suggestive blossoms, or Rodin’s sculptural celebrations of the human form. In search of something more cutting edge? Scan the art reviews in your local paper to find gallery shows with a slightly racy vibe.
8. Get lost. Head to a neighborhood you’re not totally familiar with but that you know is a safe place to explore. “When we were first dating my husband and I would buy tickets to way off-Broadway plays in remote parts of the city, then afterward we’d stop into whatever bar or restaurant looked interesting,” says Megan Dunham, 31. “The feeling of adventure it gave to those nights was a turn-on.”
9. Ride a roller-coaster. Hit an amusement park and get in line for the most stomach-churning rides they’ve got. Having your bodies whipped around curves or dropped from heights could be a surprising prelude to a night of passion. “Activities that feel dangerous raise levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and adrenaline in your brain, which is the same biochemical activity that occurs when you’re sexually aroused,” says Kerner. Not to mention that a roller-coaster ride provides the perfect excuse to grasp each other’s hands, arms, thighs…
10. Watch the moon rise. Using the sunset as a backdrop to your date is a little too trite to be truly seductive, but catching the moon rise? Now that’s a suggestion that’s certain to feel magical. “My boyfriend drove me to the beach and set up a lovely picnic with a killer bottle of wine,” says Nevette Previd, 33. “Then he told me to turn around and there was the moon rising over the ocean—it was my favorite date ever.” Check the Old Farmer’s Almanac to learn the moon-rise times in your zip code.
Celeste Perron is the author of Playing House: A Starter Guide To Being A Grown-up.