We’ve all been there. It’s date night. You’re looking for something unique to do, something that will create a memory. You’re also not looking to blow a hole in your budget. Impossible, right?
Well, not anymore! You can change things up with a game night. Board games have probably changed a lot since you played them as a kid. Just walk into any toy and hobby, or dedicated board game store, and you’ll find much more than just Scrabble and Monopoly. Head over to BoardGameGeek.com and browse their database of over 95,000 titles. Look up “board game cafes” or “board game conventions” and you’ll see that there are board games for almost any situation or group. Some recent releases specific to dating/relationships include “…and then, we held hands.”, and “Fog of Love“.
So, I wanted to take some time to talk about how board games can create a low stakes environment to practice good relationship habits/skills. I’ve been playing board games for the last few years with my friends, and I’ve been lucky to find a partner in Cait who enjoys this hobby with me. I think taking time to enjoy a board game together isn’t just a way to waste some time, but a chance to improve ourselves together. Here are some ways you can make your game night an opportunity for some relationship enrichment:
Playing games has helped me personally in overcoming my shyness. It provides a great structure to practice your communication skills: a clearly defined gathering, usually around a table in a home; not too many people, usually two to four; and it even comes with instructions! How many things in life come with instructions?! Reading the rule book and learning how to concisely explain the game to others will give you a boost of confidence in your presentation and communication skills. Being able to do so with your partner will hopefully only make communicating outside of the game that much easier.
Suggested Game: Codenames Duet
Relationships are not a competition. We don’t set out to best our partner in everyday activities. We all do, however, have a desire to test our wits or skill against others, and board games provide the perfect outlet for the spirit of competition in us all. Find a game you both enjoy, and add some stakes to the outcome. Say, loser does the dishes? Don’t want any stakes but still want the bragging rights? Make a trophy together for your game nights that the winner can hoist up at the end of the evening.
Wait, how do board games provide an opportunity to improve our teamwork? I thought I was just supposed to sulk over here while she buys Park Place and Boardwalk – AGAIN! Not tonight, my friends – cooperative board games to the rescue! Instead of wondering how she keeps rolling what she needs every darn turn, you and yours can huddle around a table and beat the game together. This will give you the opportunity to evaluate a problem together, and try to solve it together. Just don’t fall into the trap of letting one person make all the decisions. You can use this as an opportunity to practice speaking up and making an argument for your desired course of action.
You never know where a conversation over a board game will go. Some of my favorite evenings with Cait have been when we’ve opened up a board game with a listed play time of one hour only to find ourselves sitting there three hours later having a blast. Maybe the harsh capitalistic theme of Monopoly gets you talking about your political leanings. The ancient Backgammon will give you an opportunity to discuss your love of history. Or a game of cards will lead to your partner telling you about their favorite memories growing up playing games with their parents.
Suggested Games: Any game from your childhood
We’re all going to reach points in our relationships where we’re just not seeing eye-to-eye, or we’ll do something that hurts our partner’s feelings. Playing competitive games together will give you an opportunity to work on resolving conflicts that don’t have any stakes. You will certainly run into a situation where you’ll interpret rules differently, or have to betray your partner to come away with a win. It may sound trivial, but using board games to practice resolving these low stakes disputes may just help when a real conflict arises.
Playing a game with your significant other is a great alternative to another night sitting in front of the TV or spending a small fortune at the newest restaurant in town. So, what are you waiting for? Break out the cardboard!
After you’ve tried a board game or two, consider checking out our post about other dating activities.