Game nights may seem like something reserved for suburban families or groups of friends, but if you’re living with just your partner and still want to play games, there are actually plenty of games you can play together. In fact, not only are games for couples a fun date night in, they can also have the side effect of a strengthened, happier relationship.
We talked to psychologists and relationship experts and found out that playing games with your loved one can actually lead to a better connection. “Instead of relating on a more surface level by predominantly relying on social media, texts and so on, playing games together provides a longer amount of time spent with each other as well as an activity which is shared in real time,” Los Angeles-based psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas says. “As a result, camaraderie can increase and be reinforced.”
Plus, as time goes on in your relationship and the responsibilities pile up, you’re left with little time to get to know each other better. That’s another reason Dr. Sarah Schewitz says games can be beneficial. “Some games bring out qualities such as intelligence, strategy and competitiveness in you and your partner that you may utilize at work but not at home,” she continues. “It can be exciting to see sides of your partner you don’t normally have access to and you may find yourself feeling even more respect for and attraction to them as a result.”
Psychotherapist and author Jenny Maenpaa says when you play a game, you have an opportunity to gain perspective and understanding into your partner’s thought processes in a new, creative way. “In trading information back and forth, you learn problem-solving skills together, and may realize you’ve been approaching household duties or habits differently from one another and potentially causing unnecessary conflict,” she says.
So whether it’ll help your communication, teamwork or problem-solving skills, it’s time to put down your phones, turn off the TV and start playing some games together. We’ve compiled all sorts of games for you to play with your loved one, from question games so you can learn more about each other, to strategy games if you want a battle of wits and fun, to fast-paced games that’ll give you a good laugh at the end of a long day.
Question games for couples
Well, you picked this person to share your life with — so shouldn’t you be impressed with them? In your heart, you know you are. But how often do you pause and say, “Wow”? By playing games, Dr. Thomas says, you may start to admire each other in a newfound way. You may even be impressed with your partner’s creativity, strategy and luck.
Question games are a great way to find out more about your partner, and oftentimes yourself. Check out these sometimes funny, sometimes intimate and sometimes heartfelt question games that can help you and your better half learn more about each other.
Our Moments Couples: 100 Thought-Provoking Conversation Starters for Great Relationships ($18.95; amazon.com)
Spend some quality time with your partner with this conversation starter card collection that will have you asking and answering deep questions that can help strengthen your relationship.
Couple Connect (starting at $22.95; amazon.com)
This pack of conversation starters prompts thoughtful questions and answers so you and your significant other can open up to each other. Plus, this game comes in three different formats tailored to how long you’ve been in a relationship. There are versions for couples who have been together for less than one year, less than five years and more than 10 years.
Talk, Flirt, Dare! Fun and Romantic Game for Couples ($24.50, originally $25.95; amazon.com)
For a more lighthearted and fun date night, check out this question game for couples that consists of three categories: talk, flirt and dare. Each night you can go down a different route, learning more and getting closer every time you play.
The Ultimate Game for Couples ($24.99; amazon.com)
This game can be played with your partner, or you could even play with another couple and compete to see who knows each other the best. And with 200 playing cards to choose from, you’ll be playing it night after night.
Card games for couples
Yes, bingeing the latest show or watching the newest movie is a way to bond. But when you play a game together — device-free — it can take your connection to a new level, according to love and relationship psychologist Dr. Sarah Schewitz.
“Two important factors in maintaining a healthy relationship are having fun together and trying new things together,” she says. “If you’re playing a new game and having fun while doing it, you’re doing a lot of good for your relationship.”
Card games are simple and fast, making them a perfect choice for a busy weeknight when you just need to unwind. Below are some easy-to-play yet ridiculously fun card games to try with your significant other.
Sushi Go Card Game ($8.93; amazon.com)
For a laid-back game that’s fun, entertaining and a tad bit competitive, consider this bestseller. Not only does it go super fast, but it’s easy to learn and will help pass the hours quickly. The goal is simple: You want to collect as many cards of varying points as you can to create your “sushi meal.” The player with the most points wins. Might we suggest supporting your local sushi joint and ordering takeout to enjoy before?
Czech Games Codenames: Duet ($16.99, originally $19.95; amazon.com)
This game has you and your partner working together to contact secret agents while avoiding enemy assassins. This simple but thrilling game will have you and your significant other feeling like spies every time you play.
Nexci Scrimish Strategy Card Game ($9.99; amazon.com)
Another beloved card game, Scrimish is classic and fun. Each deck has 25 red and 25 blue cards, and you’re working as quickly as you can to reveal your partner’s crown card. If you can keep up and do it first, you win! These super-fast rounds are light and enjoyable and will make you bite your tongue in envy if you can’t seem to win.
Off Topic Adult Party Game ($29.99; amazon.com)
If you have a short attention span, this one’s for you. To begin, you draw a card and set the topic of the round. Then you roll the die and it picks the letter. Now you and your partner must race against each other to come up with as many words as you can that begin with the letter.
Uno Family Card Game ($9.99; amazon.com)
Everyone loves a good round of Uno. All you have to do is match the number or color of the card on the pile with a card from your hand. It sounds simple enough, but if you’ve played before, you know Uno can get intense.
Exploding Kittens ($19.04; amazon.com)
This game is a favorite, thanks to its outlandish card design and fast-paced, hilarious gameplay. All you have to do is draw cards from the deck, but if you draw an exploding kitten, you’re out. You’ll need to use your defuse cards to avoid the explosions, and sabotage your partner with tacocats, bear-o-dactyls and countless other ridiculous cards.
Board games for couples
There are plenty of app games that you can play on your phones. But, well, that requires looking at your iPhone or tablet for hours. It’s easy to lose concentration and be tempted by social media when going this route, which is why Dr. Thomas says old-fashioned board games can be a better choice.
“By playing together, you can focus on the experience you are sharing rather than on outside stimuli, which can be distracting and disconnecting,” she continues. “In essence, couples playing games together is a more personal, direct way to connect and stay focused on each other.”
For a classic game night feel, opt for any of these fun board games so you can strategize and compete with your partner.
Bananagrams Party Edition ($14.06; amazon.com)
This is one of the most popular games out there, and it’s no surprise that racing against the clock to show off your vocabulary is fun for all. In this game, you’re given 24 single-letter tiles, and your goal is to make a crossword with the tiles you’re given and then take from the “unused” pile before your partner. When your partner somehow pulls out a complicated, amazing slew of words, you may do a double take.
7 Wonders Duel ($25.99, originally $34.99; amazon.com)
Build ancient civilizations in 7 Wonders Duel, where you can battle against your partner to see who can progress through scientific discovery, military advancement and more.
Jax Sequence Board Game ($17.97, originally $24.99; amazon.com)
Ready to add some competition into your relationship for game night? Or, ya know, any day this week after you’ve finished your work? This versatile — and extremely popular — game is based on strategy. To get started, you simply lay the cards you were dealt and then place a chip on the corresponding space on the game board. Your goal is to get five of these chips on the board, which isn’t easy when your partner is trying to outsmart you.
Ravensburger Disney Villainous The Worst Takes It All Game ($34.25, originally $39.99; amazon.com)
Disney fans rejoice! This two-player game is full of strategy and a little bit of meanness. Though reviews of this top seller say it’s difficult to learn, once you do, it’s addictive. The goal is to give your villain a happy ending — whatever that means for the character — but there are many roadblocks that make it challenging.
Carcassonne ($30.71; amazon.com)
This easy-to-learn strategy game centers around placing down tiles that determine the location of cities, roads and abbeys, then you try to build and gather more territory than your opponent for a true battle of the mind.
Jenga Game ($10.39; amazon.com)
Jenga can add some high-flying excitement to any weeknight. Be careful not to knock down the tower, and remember to leave enough time for cleanup after you’re done playing.
Azul Board Game ($28.99; target.com)
This gorgeous game is equal parts fun and pretty, with players trying to decorate the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora. To make that task complicated, all sorts of things are in play — supplies and attention to detail — to keep it interesting and engaging.
Monopoly Board Game ($15.99; amazon.com)
It’s been a household favorite forever — and for good reason. It involves a fair amount of luck but also requires strategy and intellect. Though you may be there for a solid hour or two, with a bottle of wine and your favorite person, the time will pass swiftly.
Video games for couples
Believe it or not, recreation activities can release oxytocin in our brain, which Dr. Maenpaa says is sometimes called “the love hormone.”
“It causes our brains to feel attachment and protective feelings toward the person,” she continues. “Together, you are building memories that you can reflect back on later in life with warm feelings.”
If traditional games aren’t your thing and you and your partner want to play video games together, there are plenty of fun two-player games that will help you bond while you’re racing, solving puzzles or shooting monsters.
1-2-Switch ($49.99, originally $50.85; amazon.com)
1-2-Switch is a fun party game where you use the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con controllers to compete against your partner. Whether it’s a boxing match, a round of table tennis, a deceptive game of dice or strutting your stuff down the runway, this game will have you shaking and jumping for hours on end.
Super Mario Party ($59.99; amazon.com)
Mario games are always a good bet when you’re in need of a fun night, and Super Mario Party for the Nintendo Switch is a great way to compete against your significant other. You’ll move across a virtual board and in between each round you’ll face off in minigames to win coins. The player with the most stars at the end wins!
Overcooked! + Overcooked! 2 ($19.99; amazon.com)
While many games have you and your partner pitted against each other, the Overcooked! series has you working together in the most stressful kitchen imaginable. You’ll need to compartmentalize and communicate to get each plate of food out on time, all while fire falls from the sky and zombies try to eat you. This fast-paced cooking game is available on PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Cuphead ($19.99; amazon.com)
This hand-animated video game is famous for its cartoonish art style and crippling difficulty. You and your partner have lost a bet against the devil and have to fight against a seemingly endless list of monsters to win back your souls. If you and your loved one are ready and willing to die hundreds of times and hone your shooting and dodging, Cuphead is an incredibly fun game that’s available for Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
Portal 2 ($29.99; gamestop.com)
Portal 2 is an oldie but a goodie, and one of the most influential puzzle games in video game history. In it, you and your partner play as two robots who need to use your portal guns and physics to solve mind-boggling puzzles. It’s available for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (starting at $49.94; amazon.com)
The classic Mario racing game from your childhood has a fancy new version on the Nintendo Switch. With fast-paced courses, fun characters and diabolical items, you’ll want to race against your partner night after night.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime ($14.99; microsoft.com)
This frantic game will have you and your partner running around a circular spaceship navigating your way through the dangers of space. You’ll have to work together to shoot enemies, dodge asteroids and rescue kidnapped space bunnies. What more could you ask for? It’s available for Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation 4.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes ($14.99; microsoft.com)
This innovative video game requires clear communication so you and your better half can defuse a bomb before it explodes in your face. One player will be the defuser, who can see the bomb but not the instructions on how to defuse it, and the other player can’t see the bomb but has the instructions in hand. This means you’ll have to constantly talk to each other to solve puzzles and successfully defuse the bomb before time runs out. You can get it now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.
Don’t Starve Together ($14.99; microsoft.com)
This stylized wilderness survival game is all about working together to build a new life in a bleak and unforgiving world. Once you establish a shelter and a food source, you’ll have to avoid monsters and other mysterious dangers to stay alive. It’s available for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.