Welcome to week 4 of the 6 week relationship challenge! This week is NOVELTY!
When I was a grad school, I took a class on the psychology of falling in love. One of the things I learned that stuck with me is that novelty can not only help you fall in love, but it can also help you stay in love. The reason why is that novel activities, taking risks, activities that promote fear (like roller coasters), and trying and learning new things, all release dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is one of the same chemicals that’s released in the brain during the beginning stages of a relationship. A lot of the butterflies you feel during that time period can actually be attributed to dopamine!
Have you ever noticed you feel “more in love” with your partner when traveling or trying new things? This is why! While there are lots of different dopamine releasing activities you can do with your partner (any kinds of competitions where you work together or against each other, any kind of exhilarating activity such as a trapeze class, or just any novel activity!), the one we want to focus on for this challenge is learning something new together.
Learning something new is a great way to release dopamine to the brain and when you do it with your partner it not only helps you feel sparks towards them, it also helps strengthen your relationship in terms of expansion. Dr. Arthur Aron theorizes that “self-expansion,” the desire to grow and change, is critical to boosting a couple’s level of commitment. By “self-expansion” in a relationship, he means that you see your partner as a source of exciting experiences, a support for becoming a better person, or a way to expand your own capabilities.
This week we challenge you to:
LEARN SOMETHING NEW TOGETHER
There are a few ways you can do this:
1. Teach each other
We especially love this option because we think it gives you the most bang for your buck! Not only does it give you the benefits of dopamine release and incorporates the theory of self expansion, but you also get to learn more about your partner’s skills and abilities, interests, and their teaching style. It can feel really gratifying to teach your partner to do something that you love and it can also feel really great to learn something your partner loves! This is also a great way for you to work on strengthening your communication, as you may need to alter your communication style so that your partner can actually learn from you.
2. Take a class together
Choose anything that the two of you are interested in and take a class on it! You can also go a DIY route with this by looking up a book or YouTube video that you can learn from. The opportunities are endless, but here are some ideas: cooking, photography, wine tasting, painting, learning a new language, getting a certification in hang gliding…
3. Pick up a new hobby together
This is more of a long term commitment, but having a hobby together can be a way to continually learn and grow together, while creating endless opportunities for bonding and date nights. It’s kind of like a way of turning option 2 into a long term learning opportunity. We took up photography together when we started the blog and it’s provided endless opportunity for learning together. We’ve loved bonded over it and improving our skills together.
We can’t wait to hear which option you choose and how this week goes for you!
You might find this blog post on 101 adventurous date ideas helpful for this week’s challenge!