Hand-in-hand through the day

Taking that special someone on a date can cause a myriad of reactions, depending on the level of your relationship. A new beginning will often be highlighted by nerves, an unusual amount of sweating and handfuls of awkward moments. Throw in the added wait of the day, and that first or second date can be more agonizing than enjoyable.

On the other hand, a long-term relationship comes with pitfalls as well. Reaching that next level with somebody can be a wonderful thing. Only when you find true comfort with someone can you truly appreciate who they are as a person. However, with complacency comes laziness, and with laziness comes feelings of rejection.

The answer to both of these situations? It’s simple, and fortunately, it’s usually cheaper than the alternative. It’s called daytime.
Taking your partner, current or potential, on a day date can be a wonderfully rewarding and eye-opening experience. Wondering what she’s like in jeans and a T-shirt, and not dolled-up? Wondering if his slick moves are a product of a cocktail or the real thing? Taking a person out into the real world and away from overpriced dinners and dance clubs gives you a true perspective of who they are.

It’s also a great way for long-time couples to rediscover the pure joys of just being with each other.

Portland, for all of the downtown options it has to offer, also offers a litany of daytime events that are perfect for couples. One of the most simple yet overlooked is the zoo. Yes, the zoo. Smelly, overcrowded and with way too many screaming kids, the zoo is actually the perfect getaway, no matter the state of your love life. In fact, my wife and I went there for Mother’s Day. Watching our 16-month-old baby smile and point to all the doggies—all animals to her are doggies—was the perfect way for us to reconnect and see how the simplest things in life are the most important. As our lives grow more hectic and it becomes easier to splinter apart, spending an afternoon alone, the three of us together, was quite simply the best date we have had. We weren’t staring at a movie screen or looking at our plates of food.

The only thing we held was each others hands and our baby. On top of that, we noticed lots of very obvious first dates. Sure, there were still nerves, but seeing young couples out and about was nice. They always had things to look at, conversations could always be found, and the pressure was off. All and all, it appears that the zoo may be the best place in Portland to take that special, or potentially special, someone.

But if you’re wanting to stay with the outside theme, there are other great options as well. The Portland Japanese Gardens offers the best of both worlds—for the lady, she is surrounded by flowered beauty, the gardens swallowing you whole; for the male, aside from walking along with her, you allow the woman to be in her element. If she’s comfortable, you’re comfortable. It’s a win-win situation and again, whether you’re just starting or re-kindling, a daytime stroll through the gardens could be just what you’re looking for.

The beauty of Portland, however, is that if there is one version of something, there are always more. Japanese Gardens too crowded? Simply jump over to the International Rose Test Garden (no, not the real Rose Garden, aka the Moda Center), but another land of petalled beauty. Yes, there is in fact more than one place to walk around and look at flowers. Who would have known?

Not into flowers? That’s OK. The point of this is to show you that sometimes it’s the alternative to the norm that works the best. Date nights are great, but cliché. Want to spice things up, or show them that you’re different from the rest? Offer to take them out at 12 p.m., not 12 a.m. Stand out. Be unique.

Maybe you’ll find that you really enjoy being with that person, sans the pressure. Maybe you’ll rediscover why you fell in love in the first place.