The best way to have fun on a date is to make sure that fun is the goal of the date. Forget all the heavy stuff, like finding Mr. or Mrs. Right, and leave all your personal baggage at the door.
"Make getting to know another human being your only expectation," says Dawn Allen of Inspired Heart Coaching in Medford, who helps people find the courage to date.
Allen doesn't recommend going on a date with a long list of expectations and one pressure-packed agenda. Put away your checklist for the perfect match, she says, because when you expect to meet a new friend with the possibility for more, you'll never lose.
Sierra Faith of Medford, a dating and relationships coach, encourages her clients to get creative when they're planning a date. When you choose to take a person dancing, wine tasting or hiking — instead of the traditional dinner date, Faith says, "it forces you to think about what your partner enjoys."
Southern Oregon is full of creative dating options — and a lot of them are free. Numerous local restaurants and venues offer free live music, for example. Then there's rock-wall climbing, beginner dance lessons and even pottery painting.
For outdoors enthusiasts, hiking trails abound, and lots of clubs, such as Rogue Valley Audubon Society, Sierra Club's Oregon chapter and KS Wild, offer free guided outings. If you prefer wheels to boots, Cycle Analysis in Jacksonville rents tandem bikes and leads group rides.
Long-term couples need to remember that creative dating ideas aren't just for single people, Faith says.
"When they keep dating, they'll remember why they fell in love in the first place," Faith says.
Faith and Allen both encourage married couples to make time for date nights.
"It can be easy to let distractions keep you from trying," says Allen. "But it's important to keep things in common with each other."
Just in case you need a little nudge, here are a few ideas to get you started: