It may be the time of year to tighten up the purse strings, but saving money doesn’t have to mean skimping on romance. By Helen Wallace
Festive-season spending has most likely left your wallet empty, so dating may seem like a luxury you simply can’t afford right now. But having fun with your partner needn’t cost a fortune. Here are a few creative ideas to inspire you and take spending time together to a whole new level.
In a place with as much natural beauty as SA, there really is no need to fork out massive sums of money at fancy restaurants to woo your partner. Why not keep things rustic and enjoy the summer weather with a picnic in your local park? Nothing says romance like eating a home-made lunch that’s been prepared with love and taking a stroll through a public garden to observe nature at its finest. Plus, the serenity beats the noise and crowds of local eateries any day. They say that one should make time to stop and smell the roses – and what better time than the present?
If you have a competitive streak, taking in a few rounds of good, old-fashioned bowling might be right up your alley. Or, if you would prefer a more relaxing activity, head down to an indoor ice rink where you and your partner can hold hands as you do laps. These nostalgic pastimes are inexpensive ways to connect with – or compete against – one another while having fun at the same time, not to mention providing the opportunity to act like children and bring some lighthearted-ness into your relationship.
Today, with the rise of the smartphone, anyone can be a photographer. What better way to hone your skills than by having an amateur photo shoot with your partner while exploring the city? South Africa is a stunning country (just ask all those tourists) and, between the nature and humming cities, you two will be spoilt for choice when it comes to photo opps. Whether it is a pic of your man with Table Mountain towering in the background or a selfie of the two of you in a rickshaw on the Durban beachfront, you can make memories to frame so you will always remember those special moments together.
Do you have a shared interest, or a desire to cultivate one, in the fields of art or natural history? Treat yourselves by taking a trip to a museum or gallery, where you can expand your mind, learn about history or simply appreciate the artistic expression. Entrance is usually cheap (if not free) and you and your partner will have the chance to learn more about each other and discover new things together. If culture doesn’t sound like your idea of a fun time, why not try something more hands-on, like drawing or cooking classes? Sharing a new skill is a sure-fire way to bond without forking out big bucks.
If you want to amp up the intimacy in your relationship, a couple’s massage could do the trick. We often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, but it is very important to make time to connect with your other half. Giving each other massages can be a bonding experience where you learn about your partner’s likes and dislikes, open doors to better communication and improve things in the bedroom as well. All you need is some baby oil or massage oil, relaxing background music and some downtime and you are good to go. Gently does it!
Go off the grid
Do you have a few days to spare and fancy yourself the adventurous type? Pack the car with camping kit and set off on a spontaneous getaway. There are plenty of scenic spots to choose from and, for a minimal rate, you can enjoy chilling out and eating toasted marshmallows in a quiet, rural setting, far away from the chaos of urban life. Who needs room service and five-star facilities when you can enjoy the simple luxury of cuddling under a blanket and gazing at the stars together? Now that’s real romance!
I’m struggling to get a guy to stay in a relationship with me. I’ve just lost another one and I really want to win him back. Even though he lied to me all the time, I still love him. He’s not answering my calls or messages. I gave him everything he wanted in terms of love. I don’t know what to do any more.
My dear, you can no more ‘get’ a person to stay with you than tie a piece of string to a cloud. And when you talk about losing ‘another one’, it sounds like you’re talking about a hairclip. People are not objects that can be controlled and manipulated into feeling authentically for you in the way you wish to have them feel.
Being ignored and lied to are clear indications of disrespect and a lack of interest. Why are you accepting this, and chasing it? Do you make a habit of ‘falling in love’ with men who are emotionally unavailable to you? There is a theory that we try to fix our childhood traumas through the adult relationships we create.
I suggest that you stop pursuing unfulfilling connections with guys who treat you poorly and don’t want to be with you. Rather use the time to reflect on your beliefs around self-
acceptance, love and expectations. Define for yourself what exactly you want from a relationship and partner. What do you want in terms of love? Then question why you settle for, and chase after, less than this.
It sounds to me like you need to focus more on cultivating love and respect for yourself, instead of spending all your energy trying to ‘get’ a man to do this for you. True love is a journey that starts with you.