Whether you and your partner have been together for 2 years or 20, keeping romance alive can be key to a happy relationship. We've all heard that infatuation — also known as limerance — fades fairly quickly, usually within a few years.
But does it have to? Most of us know couples who still seem hopelessly in love after years or even decades together. Here's the good news: it's not an accident. Like love, romance takes effort and intention. Make romance a priority, and it can pay off in intimacy, closeness, and a stronger bond.
Check out our tips for breathing life back into your relationship and keeping romance alive.
1. Romance On The Daily
Why limit romance to special occasions like anniversaries and Valentine's Day? Level up your romantic skills by making a small gesture every day. Leave your partner a note in the morning, take care of a chore they would normally do, or bring them something you know they love (ahem, cupcakes). Even careful listening and asking questions can feel romantic to your partner if you often seem busy and distracted.
2. Let The Dating Begin — Again
No matter how long you've known your partner, resolve to keep dating! Dress up for each other, have a candlelit dinner in a restaurant or at home, make eye contact, and give each other your undivided attention. Over time, many couples slip into a transational relationship of schedules and problem-solving. At least one night a week, focus instead on each other's thoughts and feelings instead of decision-making or household issues.
3. Let's Get Physical
For many of us, just the word "romance" makes us think of physical intimacy. Sex and affection are two of the best ways to add fuel to the romantic fire. Many partners are physically expressive at the beginning of a relationship, but become less so over time. Re-establish the spark by cuddling on the couch or in bed, kissing each other hello and goodbye, and making physical touch a priority every day.
When it comes to sex, try fanning the flames kissing and snuggling first, then move on to more intense activities. If you're both comfortable, you could even experiment with different positions. Just remember: Don't rush. Take your time getting there. Your body knows what feels good and what doesn't. Letting your partner know what you enjoy helps build trust and closeness.
Non-defensive communication, the ability to be vulnerable, and listening to each other can help foster closeness and romance. Try to hear each other without interrupting or feeling that you need to win. Disagreements are opportunities to get to know each other and respect your differences. Not sure why you and your partner keep arguing or how to stop? Check out John Gottman's communication skills for couples.
5. Learn Something New Together
Spontaneity is key to keeping romance alive. One way to add excitement to your relationship is to plan an adventure. Studies show that couples who share new experiences regularly feel happier and closer than couples who don't.
Try something you and your partner have never done before, like taking a trip to a new destination or trying an unusual kind of cuisine. idea is to surprise your partner with a gift he or she loves. For example, buy tickets to a concert, cook dinner for him or her, or surprise them with a weekend away.
6. Go Device Free
Phones, televisions, and devices have reduced the time couples and families spend together talking and connecting. Try making the dinner table a screen-free zone, or power down devices an hour before bed to create space to reconnect. Focusing on each other can show interest in each other's lives and feelings, sparking romance and a feeling of shared attachment.
7. Give Compliments
Compliments can be much more than superficial flattery. Kind words and genuine praise help your partner feel valued, which is one of the best ways to restore romance in a long-term relationship. Notice something you like about their appearance, personality, or accomplishments, and share it with them. Telling them directly is great, but a quick text or note can be just as effective, and help you feel connected during a busy day.
8. Show Affection
Many of us think of affection as a must-have in a close relationship, but over time it's easy to let it slide. Consistent affection is one of the best ways to maintain a sense of intimacy in a long-term relationship. A hug, kiss, or quick touch are simple and quick ways to express love, even on busy days. Affection also sows the seeds of sexual and emotional intimacy, and making it easier to cultivate a deeper, long-lasting connection.
9. Share Your Dreams
Discussing dreams and goals can help you understand who your partner is, separate and apart from you. Try sharing desires as a way of rekindling romance in your relationship. Not sure how to start the conversation? Try some of these prompts:
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
- How would you like our lives to look in 5 years?
- What's your ultimate meal?
- What's one thing you've love to do together?
- What's one goal or wish you haven't shared with me?
10. Set The Mood
A romantic atmosphere can set the tone for closeness and intimacy. Turn off the lights and set out candles for a warm, flattering glow. Remember the effort you put into the ambience when you first met your partner, and do the same now. Buy flowers and wine, or a special food you know your partner enjoys. Turn on music and turn off the TV, phones, and other devices so you can talk and spend time together.
It's not your imagination -- vacations really can help rekindle romance! Research shows that sharing new experiences strengthens the bond between partners and helps them remember what brought them together. Go to a place you've both always wanted to see, or take turns choosing a destination. Once there, make sure you choose activities that are fun or interesting for both of you.
Don't have time for a longer vacation? A weekend away or staycation at a charming hotel can have the same effect, and help refresh your appreciation for each other.