What are some activities/dates I can do to boost confidence?
August 11, 2014 10:43 AM   Subscribe

I haven't been feeling so confident lately. I know my SO could also be much happier if she felt a bit more confident. When we first met around 3 years ago, we were both extremely confident. Now we seem to have trouble being decisive, making decisions to better ourselves/get necessary things done, and choosing a restaurant or a date idea gets harder and harder. I would love ideas of things that could help with this.

What I'm looking for:

So, what I'm looking for is more than mantras or helpful words of encouragement, it's actual activities that we could do that would help build confidence and reinforce decision making/taking risks. Something that I personally learned about is power stances. We also have fun at arcades, and we get to take risks/make decisions moving from game to game.

What we've tried

We play a lot of video games together, but lately the options for cooperative non-droll couch co-op for PC or Wii U is rather lacking. We also take turns playing Titanfall. Trine and Lego are both too easy. These really seem to actually punish confidence rather than reward it. When you do something risky/wrong, you usually are punished with death, and the punishment of death is a good reason to not take unnecessary risks.

We also like board games, but the problem with most euro games is that you only make a few decisions that decide the whole game, or that the game is led by chance. We tried Go, but the skill difference made it difficult for my SO.

Previously in the relationship we enjoyed things like geocaching, but we are usually too lazy. Same goes for tennis, we used to enjoy it a ton, but it's fallen a bit by the wayside. It might be a circular problem, but I am just looking for something new that will really encourage confidence and teamwork.

Relationship details

23m and 21f - we go out to bars once or twice a week, don't have a ton of strong friends outside each other, we have normal little arguments and a little drama, but we are always learning more about each other.

I also don't want it to seem like I have a problem in the relationship. I'm not looking for professional help or anything like that. Just looking for fun positive activities.

The reason I'm asking is that we have both seemed a little depressed lately, sleeping more, finding it more difficult to care about things, finding it difficult to do things like dishes/move/laundry. Our spontaneity is a bit less consistent than it once was, but I don't think we've ever really fallen into a rut. We find it hard to find dates that aren't events.

We live apart from each other. We are both healthy weights and could both probably exercise a bit more than we do, but we definitely get at least an hour of cardio a week (soccer, or jogging, or something)

Really, any comments with feeling/ideas are super-welcome, but if you have a killer idea/insight of activities/ways to boost confidence, that would be amazing! Thanks!
posted by bbqturtle to Human Relations (26 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
take up separate sports somewhere and meet some new friends. for example you learn to rock climb and she learns to dance salsa, or something. eventually you can start to learn one another's things or go out with other couples/people you meet at your respective hobby places. one hour of cardio a week for people your age is nothing, especially if you are getting lazy and depressed and sleeping all the time, which exercise will help combat. i always think of partnered dancing and climbing together when i think of activities that encourage teamwork. or sign up for a cooking class or new hobby class - either take it together and make it a recurring date, or you each try two things and then share your experiences over dinner afterward etc.

with the tennis and geocaching, sounds to me like you are not accountable when it's just a matter of being accountable to each other - then you can both back out, and be lazy, and no one else is around for that except the other half of the partnership.

the key to actually doing stuff is get involved in a situation where other people besides your partner are also expecting you to do stuff. get some momentum now before actual depression might set in. video games and board games are fun, but they are basically sedentary activities, and not the kind of activities that help fix depression or give you more energy or make you feel strong and willing to take risks. if you do stuff that makes you get strong you will feel strong (and confident, and more likely to be spontaneous).
posted by zdravo at 10:55 AM on August 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I like everything you said and it makes sense. Sometimes it's just so hard for me to commit to something on a regular schedule when we are so busy with our stressful sleeping in/staying up late/being tired/doing nothing lifestyle :)

Do you have any other suggestions besides climbing, cooking, or dancing? Climbing is a great idea, and I could see us really enjoying it.

What are the best resources for finding non-college groups of people to do things like this with? I really like the concept of people depending on me to show up/participate.
posted by bbqturtle at 11:05 AM on August 11, 2014

Best answer: What I'm reading in this is that you guys are suffering from feeling really lazy, and it's keeping you from getting out and doing things - especially new things. My husband and I also fall into this rut on occasion because we are super busy during work days and so on evenings/weekends we will get stuck in the "eh, I just want to sit around and relax" mindset. The problem is, doing that with all of your free time leads to this feeling of brain rot, which it sounds like you guys are starting to experience.

How do you fix that? You need to get active. Like really, sweaty, sore muscles active - together, one weekend day each week. I recommend doing it first thing Saturday morning so you get it out of the way. For the first few weeks it will feel like a chore (especially because you just want to sleep in on the weekends), but I promise that eventually you will start to really enjoy it and it will become the highlight of your weekend. Your weekend won't really feel like it has begun until you've done this activity!

Where do you live? What kind of outdoor activities do you have access to? Right now my favorite thing that my husband and I tried on our last weekend activity was stand-up paddleboarding. It's SO much fun and low risk and a huge confidence booster to be like "eff yeah, I just walked on water!" What's the worst punishment if you don't do a good job? You fall into the water (but you're wearing a lifevest so it's okay) and you climb back on and try again. If it's a nice warm sunny day, you'll basically welcome this "failure." Win-win.

I also really enjoy strenuous hikes in beautiful national parks, but that might not be so exciting to you if geocaching didn't work out. The reason why hiking works for us, however, is that it's not just the activity of hiking but also the seeing nature (the pacific NW is really super pretty) and also because my husband and I just love planning and researching the whole trip - where we want to go, what kind of snacks to bring, whether we want to bring camping gear and stay overnight, etc. It becomes An Event.

The other key is to give yourself some sort of reward at the end. For my husband and I, it's ALWAYS food and booze. So like we went stand-up paddleboarding for 3 hours and then went to our favorite mexican restaurant to celebrate over chips and guac and margaritas. Knowing that we had a reward coming at the end made me want to do the activity even more. What kind of instant reward will motivate you guys?
posted by joan_holloway at 11:14 AM on August 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

What are the best resources for finding non-college groups of people to do things like this with? I really like the concept of people depending on me to show up/participate.

Meetups are what you're looking for. Tons of different interest groups. Look for groups that are consistently active.
posted by msbadcrumble at 11:15 AM on August 11, 2014

You should go bungee jumping. It really is a great confidence booster and a fun, but somewhat safe, risk. It might not seem like a huge deal, but it's a hard decision to make when you're actually on the plank, preparing to jump. It's a great rush, and you feel great for days. Plus, it combines all of the three things you're looking for - confidence booster, risk taking and decision making.
posted by cyml at 11:22 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Haven't had any luck with local meetups. Nothing very exciting yet, no team sports. A lot of dating groups.
posted by bbqturtle at 11:31 AM on August 11, 2014

I know you said you don't want mantras, but my wife has helped to shake me from my wishy-washy "I don't care, what do you want to do?" attitude with the Iron Fist of Certainty. It's really simple: if someone asks what you want to do, stand your ground and proclaim what you want to do. But that doesn't mean you have to fight to make your decision last. For example, here is a possible interchange between two people regarding lunch decisions.

- What do you want to eat for lunch?
-- Deli sandwiches from that place down the street! Iron fist!
- Oh, I had sandwiches yesterday at work. How does Chinese food sound?
-- Great! I will eat a filling meal of sweet and sour chicken! Iron fist!
- Are you sure? You just said you wanted sandwiches.
-- Chinese food is also great!

If proclaiming your one top choice is too final, you can play 5-3-1. Player 1 asks "where do you want to eat?" Player 2 lists 5 options. Player 1 responds by reducing that list to 3, and Player 2 selects the final location.

The world is full of perfectly good things to do, achieve and eat (not in that particular order). Be bold, and start with one.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:34 AM on August 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, we already use the 5-3-1 method a lot!
posted by bbqturtle at 11:37 AM on August 11, 2014

Pick a large-site place or event to go to - an event like a summer festival with food and bands and art, or a destination like a zoo or amusement park with a lot of different things to see/do. Pick one of you to be "in charge". Person A is then responsible for enthusiastic decision-making: I want to see the monkeys! We're going to the monkeys! Person A's job is to make the decisions, and do all the person-A things that will be done. Person B's job is to enjoy watching Person A remember how to take action, and to be supportive of all decisions (within reason). B can of course object (no, I am 100% not going on that roller coaster unless you want me to vomit on you!) but the goal here is explicitly *not* related to making person B happy. It's sweet to say that "all I want is for you to be happy" but that really can drag things down when neither of you is willing to want something wholeheartedly (selfishly) without worrying about what the other thinks/wants. Practice wanting things, and telling the other person what those things are.
posted by aimedwander at 11:40 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about a club tennis league? You could join as a doubles team.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:42 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you tried some form of gamification for your lack of motivation on house chores? It could be as simple as "if I get start laundry, I can read a chapter in a book/ browse the 'net/ play a level in that game/ whatever," or you can go full-out points for achievements rigamarole.

As for dates, take turns planning dates. Set a date night, or schedule a series of date nights, and each person take turns planning the events for you as a couple. If you need inspiration, the non-date-planner can give the date planner a theme, goal, or item to include in the date. To increase the challenge, the date planner could work on ways to hide the inclusion of the theme or item, so the non-date-planner has to figure out how that item or theme played into the date.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:45 AM on August 11, 2014

Response by poster: Re: Gamification - this is hard because of no outside control. I already give myself everything I want. I have really bad self-control. I also don't want very much.

Re: Dates planning. We have done this for a while, I'm just looking for more specific ideas/events. We kind of are doing a little bit of "running out of ideas" and it's kind of a different idea that what I'm looking for :)
posted by bbqturtle at 11:50 AM on August 11, 2014

Does your local recreation or parks department offer dance classes? Take one together that's totally outside of either of your wheelhouses. I took a few sessions of a hip-hop dance class through the Milwaukee Rec Department a couple years ago, and it totally changed my confidence around my body and its movement. At first, I felt silly and like I was just poorly imitating our teacher, but as time went on I started to lose that self-consciousness and just move. Our teacher was so talented and supportive and really cared about us having fun, while still pushing us to get out of our comfort zones with the dances he choreographed for us.

I miss those classes so much (our teacher moved away and wasn't replaced) and they really helped me feel differently in terms of physical confidence, which I think is totally linked to the kind of mental confidence you're describing in your question. I'd encourage you to check out low-key course offerings through something like a local rec or parks department - I think a dance course that really pushes you to do something new could be great for what you describe! It doesn't need to be partner dancing, although swing or a really energetic ballroom dancing class could probably be fun in the same way too!
posted by augustimagination at 11:55 AM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and since you mention committing to a regular schedule above - I forgot to mention that this is another reason I really think rec department or park district-level classes would be great. They're often something like a once-a-week-for-a-month commitment, and are offered at a variety of times and locations since they're geared towards people taking them for fun.
posted by augustimagination at 11:58 AM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

And (trying not to abuse the edit window, I swear this is my last and) you'll meet people in those classes you'd never meet anywhere else. It was so great for me to get out of my grad school / work bubble and meet people in my neighborhood of all different ages and backgrounds. I'm still in touch with my teacher on Facebook and he's connected to a whole bunch of really awesome artists I never would have heard of without knowing him!
posted by augustimagination at 12:01 PM on August 11, 2014

Fun activity to do together, boost confidence, take (safe) risks, make quick decisions and increase spontaneity? I had my answer as soon as I read your title, and was more sure as I read the rest of your question.


I started taking improv classes 3 years ago, and it did *wonders* for my self-confidence. Spontaneity is one of the things we work hard on in class - setting aside the judgmental part of your brain and saying yes, to yourself and your scene partner. You take all kinds of imaginary risks in exercises and scenes, plus the risk of stepping out on stage, assuming you have a class show at the end. Quick decisions? Oh yeah. When you're in a scene, there's no time for hemming and hawing.

Seriously, DO THIS. It is a ridiculous amount of fun.
posted by booksherpa at 12:09 PM on August 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Booksherpa, that sounds like a great idea :)

What are different levels of improv classes? Do people ever use annoying accents?

Are they expensive? Are there beginner-focused classes that aren't at a university?

posted by bbqturtle at 12:12 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

My fiance and I sound like you guys... So I feel the pain of getting out of the rut. I'm not a fan of meetups either because nine if them seem to fit my intrests (much less our shared intrests.)
This site seems to be a better fit intrest wise. Find a one-off class you enjoy. Not too much of a commitment yet but once you find something that motivates you two maybe you can stick with it. We just signed up for our first class (knife throwing!)
I'm on my phone so it's hard to tell but I'm pretty sure this isn't solely based in our city...
posted by missriss89 at 12:25 PM on August 11, 2014

Mod note: Hey, bbqturtle, this isn't set up to be an ongoing conversation. Please let people answer as they will from here on out.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:29 PM on August 11, 2014

What are different levels of improv classes?
There are different levels of improv classes, typically based on experience. Most improv schools that are bigger than "local troupe offers intro to improv" status run on a level system of some sort, with the levels being mostly based on experience. Unless you're an experienced improviser, you want their level 1/beginner/intro class.

Do people ever use annoying accents?
All the time. But, not so much annoying as bad, or inexperienced, which is totally fine. Changing your voice is a really easy way to be not you. I do a wide variety of really horrible accents. :)

Are they expensive?
Depends. The beginner class at UCB in NYC is $400. The beginner class I took from the guys in the local improv troupe was $150. Both classes were 3 hours a week for 8 weeks, and included a chance to perform at the end.

Are there beginner-focused classes that aren't at a university?
Absolutely! I found mine by searching for "improv" and "New Jersey" and combing through the search results. Your best bet for a non-college improv class are any local improv troupes. Check out their websites and see if they offer classes.

Feel free to MeMail me if you have more questions.
posted by booksherpa at 12:53 PM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nth-ing taking a class together. Community centers/local parks & recreation programs offer tons of these: in my city, our local community adult education center offers classes in cooking, all types of visual arts, music, dance, acting, stand-up comedy, creative writing, a variety of sports, and more "practical" skills like personal finance and Excel, among other weird one-off things like wine appreciation and "the architecture of Italy." Classes are good for accountability (your instructor and classmates will know if you skip), for trying/learning new things you never would have tried otherwise, and for getting out of the house in a structured (and therefore sometimes less intimidating/overwhelming) way.

To sum up: classes!
posted by rebekah at 2:30 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Stop staying up late and sleeping in!

You get your best sleep before midnight, I think. Personally, I find sleeping in really demotivating... Waking up with the day half gone and all. Wake up early one weekend morning and go to the farmers market or something then bam! It's 9 or 10 and you've already Done A Thing. After that doing Another Thing is no big deal.

I was going to suggest rock climbing too. Or Aerial silks, or a trapeze class...
posted by jrobin276 at 3:46 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure where you are in the world, but perhaps check if there are any trivia nights at pubs or bars around you? You get to flex your brain a bit, work together as a team, have a few drinks/snacks, and socialize in a very relaxed environment.
posted by jess at 3:59 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

OK, I'll be the contrarian. Sometimes, you're in a rut and you just need to muddle through. Since life is often a rollercoaster, I'm sure there's fun on the way. Life is too short to always be doing. Being can be fun too.
posted by learnsome at 4:27 PM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

My husband and I took the beginning rider motorcycle safety course a few weeks ago. Going from "duh, two wheels, right?" to doing figure 8s and swooshing through curves was pretty confidence-building.

In the interest of full disclosure, I spent the lunch of the first day crying over my total suckiness, but by the end of the second day, even I was doing figure 8s and swooshing through the curves.

You don't even need a motorcycle - you just go learn a new skill and feel good about what epic motorcycle-riding bad-asses you are. The class we attended was at a local community college, and had a lot of younger (i.e., your age) people in it.
posted by jeoc at 7:15 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

make a list of all your favorite things to do. And all the things you would be interested in doing. Everything that you need to do before it starts snowing.

Then make a calendar. Put in all your obligations first. Then put in all the things you want to do that are fixed times, e.g. halloween party or state fair. Then slot in all the other stuff you'd like to do.
posted by rebent at 10:19 AM on August 12, 2014

« Older Keep Going, Please   |   Taking data from a PDF and putting it into a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.