Spontaneity, especially for couples who have been together for a long time, is an elusive creature. But according to researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, novelty is a quintessential quality of happy couples. As hard as it can be to take the time and cerebral effort to veer from our typical date night diversions, trying new things as a couple has huge pay-offs, both for our brains and our relationship.
So, when I first learned about the transformative powers of the penny date, I was curious and intrigued.
HOW IT WORKS
Have your penny and date in hand. When you hop in the car, have your date pick a number between 1 and 20. That is the number of times you will flip your coin. As you begin rolling out of the driveway, the passenger will flip the penny.
Heads is a right turn and tails is a left turn.
At each intersection you come across, flip your penny and turn in the corresponding direction. Once you’ve reached your chosen number, look around and have your date there!
OUR FIRST EXPERIENCE
We live within city limits and decided 12 flips would be adequate to land us near a restaurant of some sort. As we began driving, I knew our final destination would be downtown with a plethora of dining options. Boy, was I wrong! With each flip leading us away from downtown, I began to get a little nervous.
We drove around a couple of neighborhoods before finally landing on a main road. I cannot tell you how many times we laughed at the direction our penny was leading us; including along streets I never knew existed. We even lost the penny at one point before recovering it between the seats. Tails it is!
Once we reached the twelfth flip, we were between cities and in a strip mall with a shady Chinese buffet staring us in the face. While I am positive this would have added to the hilarity and spontaneity of the evening, I didn’t want to chance my growling belly on it.
After conversing, we agreed we should bend the rules a little and add on three more flips. Two flips later, we are in industrial park territory. Uh oh! Only one flip left and things are looking bleak! Heads… right we turn. Thank goodness this landed us downtown in the next city over. We stumbled upon a restaurant on an unfamiliar street and decided to give it a go. I’ll admit, it was much better than our first option would have been. The journey to our final destination was fun. This will be a date we do again!
THOUGHTS ON THE EXPERIENCE
In a time when most of us feel the need to be in control of almost everything, it can be hard letting go and leaving your date up to chance. No dinner reservations and no plan?? Are you kidding??!! But it felt like an adventure and it was fun to leave life up to serendipity for once.
Also, it was a relief to not have to plan anything and it made me realize that there are more roads leading to happiness than the perfectly planned route. Jump in the car, just drive and have fun where you land. As it is with life, embrace the moment and cherish the time spent with your loved one. It’s these little moments that build relationships and create lasting memories to replay time and time again.
TIPS FOR PLANNING A PENNY DATE
- First and foremost, keep an open mind and be flexible! Odds are high you may end up lacking options for dining. But that’s part of the experience. Enjoy the memories and laughter you are creating together.
- Packing some nibbles to nosh would be wise. It’s possible your final destination will be an open field, a park, strip mall with no restaurants (or questionable options), or an industrial park. Preparing a charcuterie board with wine to accompany is a great alternative. Dine under the stars!
- Pick your number of tosses based on your geographic location. Or start closer to a hub of restaurants so you lessen your chances of ending up in the middle of nowhere. City folks may want to choose a higher number while rural dwellers living amongst a lot of open backroads may want to choose a lower number lest you end up hours from home. Although, that may be a fun escapade!
PENNY DATE WITH A TWIST
If you live in a major metropolitan area with ample choices for public transportation, why not pick a number for the amount of stops you will pass before departing the vessel. When you arrive at your stop, pull out your penny and flip that same number of times at each crossing you walk to.
No matter where you end up or what you do, remember that your time together connecting is what this is all about. Have fun and enjoy the adventure.