How to Have Fun in a Relationship: Embrace Playfulness

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Eight Dates" by John Gottman, Julie Schwartz Gottman, et al.. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

How do you have fun in a relationship? What are some ways to be playful with your partner?

One of the best ways to have a happy relationship is to simply have fun. The book Eight Dates says that being playful can open up many doors in your relationship, including new activities the two of you can do on dates.

Check out how to have fun in a relationship and let loose.

Be Playful and Enjoy Your Relationship

The authors believe that having fun is key to a happy, thriving relationship. One of the best ways to learn how to have fun in a relationship is on a date. The goal of this date is to find out what you like to do for fun and what your partner likes to do for fun and to explore how you can have fun together.

What Does Fun Look Like?

The Power of Fun author Catherine Price argues that “true fun” occurs when playfulness, connection, and flow coincide.

She defines playfulness as the state of doing something for its own sake without seeking any specific outcome or reward; connection as the feeling of sharing a unique experience with another person or entity, leading to a sense of closeness; and flow as the mental state of being fully engaged in a present-moment task, where one becomes so absorbed that time seems to pass quickly and is forgotten. 

She explains that while the experience of any one of these factors is bound to elicit a range of positive emotions, only the combined experience of all three will give you the feeling of lightness, freedom, and energy that characterizes “true fun.”

Humans are built to play. Play not only improves the mental health of individuals, but it strengthens relationships, building trust and closeness between you and your partner. However, it’s still common for people to sacrifice fun when they’re faced with other responsibilities. 

(Shortform note: Not only are humans built to play, but it’s crucial to the way we learn. Play helps children develop cognitive skills such as memory recall, problem-solving, decision-making, information processing, and language development. And while we often discuss the importance of play for children, play is equally important for adults. Engaging in playful activities has been shown to reduce stress, boost creativity, and enhance social connections. In fact, some studies have found that adults who engage in play have higher job satisfaction and are more productive.)

Use the following questions to guide your conversation:

  • What’s the most fun you’ve ever had? Share a personal experience and an experience you’ve shared with your partner.
  • What’s on your bucket list?
  • What can we do to make our relationship more fun?

How to Find Your Fun

According to Price (The Power of Fun), the social pressure to be productive and successful, coupled with the constant stimulation of technology and social media, has led many people to prioritize work and productivity over leisure activities and fun.

If you (or your partner) are struggling to tap into what fun means to you, Price recommends trying the following exercises. 

  1. Keep a “Fun Journal”: This involves writing down activities that you enjoy doing and how they make you feel. Over time, patterns may emerge that can help you identify your True Fun.
  2. Reflect on your childhood: Think back to activities that you enjoyed as a child, and consider how you might incorporate those activities into your adult life.
  3. Pay attention to your emotions: Notice which activities make you feel energized, happy, and fulfilled. These are likely to be the activities that align with your True Fun.
  4. Try new things: Experiment with different activities and hobbies, even if they seem outside of your comfort zone. This can help you discover new interests and passions.

She argues that by engaging in these exercises and reflecting on your experiences, you may be able to identify your True Fun and incorporate more of these activities into your life. She also offers a number of resources on her website.

How to Have Fun in a Relationship: Embrace Playfulness

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of John Gottman, Julie Schwartz Gottman, et al.'s "Eight Dates" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Eight Dates summary:

  • The secret to a strong, long-lasting relationship
  • Why you and your partner need to make time for weekly dates
  • The eight powerful dates and conversations to have at the start of a relationship

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *