Relationship Feeling Stale? Give The Viral ‘Alphabet Date Nights' A Try

It’s a fun and creative way to reconnect with your partner.
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When you and your partner have been together a while, it’s all too easy to put your relationship on autopilot. You go to the same restaurants, have the same conversations and watch the same TV shows before bed.

Stephanie Booe, a content creator living in North Carolina, found a fun and creative way to shake things up in her relationship by doing what she calls “alphabet date nights.” For the last several months, she’s been sharing videos about the concept on Instagram, where they’ve racked up millions of views so far. “Alphabet dating” has also been trending on TikTok recently, and a video from creator Abby Benson-Schwallie on the topic went viral on the platform in 2022.

The basic premise is this: You pick a letter of the alphabet and then plan your date around activities that begin with that letter. For example, Booe and her husband ate appetizers and went ax-throwing for their A-themed date. For their B-themed date, they ate buffalo wings and played billiards — and so on.

The Booes take turns alternating who plans each letter date “so that one person doesn’t feel the constant pressure to plan the dates in our marriage,” she told HuffPost. “It’s a really great way for us to treat each other and surprise one another with new and exciting ideas.”

The couple was inspired to start doing alphabet dates after finding themselves in a rut: They’d always go to the same few dinner spots and end the evening with a trip to Target. The alphabet structure has helped them be more creative and try new things together.

“We have two amazing kids, but time for just us can be kind of scarce, so we really wanted to mix up our date nights,” Booe said. “I was scrolling through Pinterest one day and saw that someone had posted a recipe for every letter of the alphabet and it sparked an idea of ‘What if we did that for date night?’”

Alphabet date nights have helped reinvigorate the couple’s marriage, Booe said. These days, they find themselves more excited for dates, and the format has added a sense of adventure to the relationship.

“We’re getting out and exploring our local area and doing things we wouldn’t normally do,” Booe said.

But even more importantly, she said it’s helped them feel more connected as a couple.

“Date night isn’t just a box to check off, it’s an activity where we are laughing, having fun and ending the night feeling refreshed in our marriage and life together,” she said. “It’s done exactly what we hoped it would do, and it’s even helped us to have more of a push to be consistent with our date nights so we can work our way through the alphabet.”

“There is a lot to gain from new experiences as partners.”

- Gaby Teresa, marriage and family therapist

As a mom of young kids, Booe understands that finding reliable child care can be an impediment to date night — not to mention that hiring a babysitter can get expensive. The couple occasionally peppers in at-home dates and includes the kids in their fun. For the letter D, for example, they made doughnuts, had a dance party and did a “dinner theater” by hosting a pretend cooking show for the kids.

“It was really cool to see that date night doesn’t always have to be leaving the kids and house to have a good time in your marriage,” Booe said.

Therapist Nicole Saunders, owner of Therapy Charlotte in North Carolina, told HuffPost she’s a fan of the alphabet date night concept.

“Anything that sparks novelty and fun is always worth a try! Adding the challenge of getting through the alphabet makes the planning feel more like a game than a chore,” she said.

Saunders also recommended taking turns planning the dates. Sometimes the activity can be something a couple already enjoys doing together. Other times it could be an activity that’s more in one partner’s wheelhouse.

“The purpose is to challenge each person to be open to hobbies, events and experiences that aren’t in common,” she said. “With an open mind, it’s possible to realize you don’t mind live sports, or pedicures, or hiking and so on.”

“And even if the date confirms your dislike of your partner’s hobby, you have an opportunity to improve the connection and sharing of ideas by being willing to go along with a good attitude,” she added.

Gaby Teresa, a marriage and family therapist at Kindman & Co. in Los Angeles, said she would challenge couples to expand their horizons even more by trying something totally new together.

“After all, there is a lot to gain from new experiences as partners. Even if it’s a cultural dish you haven’t tried!” Teresa told HuffPost.

Keep in mind that date night doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy to be enjoyable.

“Some of our best date nights have been slow, simple times where our main focus was each other,” Booe said.

You don’t have to go through the alphabet in order, either — you could go backwards or even draw letters out of a hat, Booe suggested.

“I like to keep a running list of our date nights in the notes section of my phone so I can write down what we did for each letter or write down date ideas for future letters,” she said.

Don’t beat yourself up if dates aren’t happening as regularly as you’d like. Sometimes the Booes are able to squeeze in a weekly date night; other times, they have a lot going on and can only get one on the calendar for the month.

“Take the ABC idea and tweak it to make it work for your marriage and lifestyle,” Booe said. “Just because this is what we do doesn’t mean this is what will work for everyone.”

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