Valentine’s Day is upon us, which means one of two things: You’re either stressing about being single on Feb. 14, or you’re stressing about planning the perfect date for your significant other.
While we at HuffPost Weddings unfortunately can’t find you true love before Friday, we can help you plan the ultimate Valentine’s Day. Below, find the 10 elements of a perfect date, based entirely on scientific research.
1. Get some shut-eye the night before.
We all know that sleep is important and yet most of us don’t get enough of it. What happens when we don’t get enough sleep? We're angry, irritable, hostile and depressed, research shows. No one wants to feel that way on the most romantic day of the year, so do yourself and your partner a favor and hit the sack early in preparation.
2. Chow down on Latin food.
Sure, beans and rice don’t sound sexy, but Latin cuisine is actually full of foods that can get you in the mood. Chili peppers speed up heart rate, stimulate endorphins and mimic the state of sexual arousal. Meanwhile, avocados have high levels of Vitamin E, which help to “maintain youthful vigor and energy level,” Barbara Klein, professor of food and nutrition at the University of Illinois, told Reader's Digest. Bananas (and therefore, plantains) contain bromelain, an enzyme that triggers testosterone, which in turn triggers sex drive. Latin food combines all of these, as does a quick run to Whole Foods.
3. Wear red.
Two studies from the University of Rochester have shown that men and women are extremely attracted to the color red. In fact, while looking at photographs, men rated women wearing red as much more attractive and sexually desirable than the same exact women wearing different colors. The study was replicated for women, and they too found the other sex more attractive when wearing red. The only downside to this suggestion? You might end up wearing the same color as your date. Oh well!
4. Take a cooking class, plan a weekend getaway or learn to snowboard.
What do all these activities have in common? They're opportunities for you and your partner to experience something new together, which will bond you in the long run. Studies have shown that couples who learn from each other and share experiences together -- like last-minute getaways -- have happier, more committed relationships. It’s called “self-expansion,” and you should try it.
5. Or, see a scary movie.
It may seem antithetical, but seeing a nerve-racking horror flick on V-Day may lead to romance. Doing something scary with your S.O. -- like watching a scary movie or braving the new roller coaster -- could make you more attracted to each other, research shows. And it all seems to be due to the increased adrenaline, according to a study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
6. Leave your phone at home (or at least keep it off of the dinner table).
Besides annoying your date by staring at your smartphone, you may also be doing permanent damage to your relationship. Research has shown that couples who engage in conversations while in close proximity to the phone report having less trust in their partner and having a poorer relationship quality. So if you want to feel connected all night, disconnect from technology.
7. Pet a dog (or two).
Not that you needed a reason to do this, but petting a dog (especially if you’re already a dog lover) raises levels of the "love hormone" oxytocin in humans, research shows. Those raised oxytocin levels are a boon to your human relationships, too.
For all the non-dog lovers, here's another option: hugs. Hugging also raises oxytocin levels, so putting your arms around your date will instantly lead to those warm and fuzzies.
8. Skip buying “some dumb thing from CVS” and go to a concert instead.
Ditch the teddy bear and the bottom-shelf chocolates and plan an experience instead, like catching a live band, attending an art show or boozing it up on a sunset cruise. Studies have shown that experiences bring more happiness than material objects, especially when those gifts are not well thought out or lead to negative feelings (a la plastic flowers).
9. Drink red wine.
Skip the cocktails (who needs more sugar anyway?) and instead order a bottle of your favorite red wine. In a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Italian researchers (of course!) found that regular vino-drinkers had higher libido levels. And women who preferred to drink red wine over other alcohols had much higher sex drives. We'll cheers to that!
10. Whatever you do, don’t skip dessert.
Some of our favorite aphrodisiacs also satisfy our sweet tooth. For instance, chocolate is known to boost mood and release fun hormones like serotonin, which makes you feel good and reduces stress. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, which makes your pulse quicken.
Pumpkin pie has been linked to sexual arousal and desire thanks to its wonderful smell, and it’s also known to increase blood flow to the genitals in men.
Also on the list: Honey, which contains a mineral called boron that plays a role in estrogen production in women and testosterone production in men; strawberries, a heart-shaped fruit that contains folic acid and vitamin C and is good for men's sperm; and vanilla, which positively triggers the olfactory sense and has been suggested to increase feelings of lust.