8 Fun (and Free!) Dates (Even if you're married)
Does your dating life seem to be draining your bank account lately? We feel
your pain. That's why we've come up with some fun alternatives that don't cost a
dime and, say experts, actually provide a better way to get to know each other
than the typical dinner/drinks/movie would.
"When you take money out of the equation, you're forced to be inventive and do
things that require different types of interaction," says Diane Mapes, author of
How to Date in a Post-Dating World. "It cuts through the financial garbage and
cuts to the chase: Is this someone I can have fun with?" Try one of these free
adventures, and you'll have your answer--and that's priceless!
1. Hit a gallery opening
These high-brow affairs are often open to the public (to find one, look in your
local paper or put your name on some galleries' mailing lists). If afternoon
dates aren't for you, see if the gallery stays open late on a certain night of
the week; many do. Plus, if it's opening night, there may be a spread of gratis
wine and cheese. Interestingly, you'll get some insight into how your date's
mind works. "How people respond to art says a lot about them," says Mapes. "Are
they open-minded about unusual art or do they only like the classics? Where does
their mind go when they look at something?" The answers you'll hear will be much
more enlightening than conversation than you'd have over dinner and drinks.
2. Watch an amateur sports match
Little leagues, local schools and grown-up amateur sports leagues don't charge
for spots in the bleachers, and, unlike at a pro game, you can find a great seat
that isn't adjacent to a fan who'll spill his beer on you when he jumps up to
curse at the umpire. "I once took a girl to a baseball game at the local high
school," says Jay Bixler, 27. "It was just as intense as a big-league game would
have been, and we had a blast." You can liven things up by making bets on little
things like what the score will be by the seventh inning stretch, or which team
will hit the first home run. In the middle of the game, switch bleachers and
root for the opposing team. Call your local schools, colleges or Parks and
Recreation Department to get a schedule of upcoming games.
3. Test drive a car
Convince a salesperson that you're in the market for a new set of wheels, then
go on a joy ride around town. You'll feel spoiled cruising around in that
new-car-scented 2007 model, despite the fact that you don't own it, and it
provides a chance for you two to drive around aimlessly (albeit briefly) and get
to know each other. It's true that couples have some of their best conversations
in the car. So who knows? You might be able to have one of those quality
dialogues while "shopping" for a new Beemer.
4. See a literary star
While most forms of entertainment -- movies, plays, music shows, etc. -- force
you to cough up some cash, there is one performance you pretty much never have
to pay for: book readings. Bookstores big and small are hosting increasing
numbers of these events to lure in customers. "Some bookstores are even
sponsoring group readings in clubs and taverns," says Mapes. Pick a provocative
author, and the reading should provide plenty of material for intriguing
conversation at the end of the night. Put a little culture in your life!
5. Browse at a flea market or crafts fair
Flea markets and crafts fairs offer hours of browsing amusement with no pressure
to buy--plus, it's a great way to suss out someone's personality. "I've found I
can really get to know someone at a flea market," says Emily Smith, 32. "By
watching which booths a guy is drawn to and what items he loves or hates, you
learn a lot about his tastes." To give your browsing a bit of a focus, you can
make a game out of it--propose a competition for who can find the most
perplexing item (What the heck does it do?) or put on your own mini Antiques
Roadshow in which you both try to guess how much some weird old item is worth.
6. Head outdoors
Parks and other al fresco spots offer space to hang out and pretty stuff to look
at with no admission fee. So find out your date's favorite outdoor activity,
whether it's hiking, biking, or just going for a stroll, then center your
rendezvous around that. Another selling point of the active outdoor date: It can
make you feel frisky in a way that sitting at dinner just doesn't. "When I was
first dating Geoff, we went on bike rides, rowed boats in the park, all that
outdoorsy stuff," says Molly Boxer, 30. It brought out both of our playful
sides, and it was a turn-on to see each other doing athletic things."
7. Put your culinary skills to the test
Restaurants can cut deeply into your paycheck, but seeing as you two have to eat
together at some point, propose this cost-free alternative: dig through the
refrigerator and kitchen cabinets and concoct a meal based on what you find. If
it's been awhile since you've been grocery shopping, that only makes this
proposal more playfully challenging. For ideas, head to Allrecipes.com, where
you can type in the ingredients you've got; then the site searches its database
of 30,000 dishes for something you can make with them.
8. Start a little competition
With the right opponent, a few heated rounds of cards (gin rummy is a perfect
one for two players) or a session over the backgammon, Scrabble or Monopoly
board can be more fun than money can buy, says Mapes. You can assess your date's
mental acuity or show off your own, and get a sense of how the two of you handle
competition. Does it create a sexy Bogie/Bacall chemistry? Or is one of you
snarling at the other by the end? Either way you'll learn a lot.
Article Courtesy of Match.com
The one thing every woman absolutely needs...
...is friendship. Not only for her soul, but also for her health and
Gale Berkowitz, in Utne magazine, has described a landmark study in which
researchers from UCLA concluded that female friendships counteract life's daily
stresses, that can take such a toll on our well-being. While men think "fight or
flight," women think "tend and befriend."
When men experience stress--whether it's a crisis at work or being stuck in
traffic --it triggers a flood of hormones that signal the body to stand and
fight back or flee quickly. Since 90% of the research on stress has been
conducted on men, it was just assumed that women had the same reaction. Guess
what? The study found they don't.
Women have what study author Laura Cousin Klein calls a larger behavioral
repertoire than fight or flight. One of the hormones that is released when
both men and women feel stress is oxytocin, which actually serves as a buffer to
the fight or flight response. While testosterone reduces the effect of oxytocin
in men, estrogen enhances it in women. So rather than fight or flight, oxytocin
encourages women to tend and befriend--that is, take care of their children and
gather with other women. And when a woman tends and befriends, even more
oxytocin is released, which counters the stress and produces a soothing, calming
effect. Viva la difference!
Klein recalls that "aha!" moment they had during the study when they realized
how differently the sexes respond to stress. When men in the lab were stressed,
they isolated themselves from others and worked alone. When women were stressed,
they came into the lab and cleaned, drank coffee, and bonded with each other.
Previous scientific research has shown that people who have friends are
healthier, have lower blood pressure, less incidence of heart disease, and live
longer. Could the "tend and befriend" instinct contribute to women's longevity?
Klein says there is no doubt that it does and that friends help us live longer
So ladies, the next time you get busy with the kids' activities, stressed out
at work, or you're facing a mountain of laundry at 10 p.m., don't try to make
more time in your day by ignoring your friends. They are your source of health