- No matter how perfect your relationship, experiencing ebbs and flows in your passion is inevitable
- Feelings of boredom, apathy or stagnation are totally normal in long-term relationships – but that doesn’t mean you have to wait them out
- If you’re looking to inject some excitement back into your partnership, there are plenty of things you can do to reignite the flame
1. Don’t take things for granted
The saying goes that the sparks that fly during the first months of a relationship soon evolve into a steady and comfortable flame. However, even the most reliable fire requires fuel to ensure that it stays burning, or else it’s at risk of sputtering out.
In the whirlwind of daily tasks, deadlines and responsibilities, it can be easy to sink into the routine domesticity of a long-term relationship, confident that it will always be there. This trust in the strength of your partnership is admirable, but it can easily turn into a neglectful situation, where you stop putting in the effort to maintain and build on what you already have.
It is natural that at certain points, other areas of your life will take up your extra attention, whether that’s taking care of a sick family member, adjusting to parenting, or just settling into a new job. With that said, it’s crucial to vocalise your gratitude to your partner for enduring these stretches with you, and it is a good idea to plan some time together to prioritise reconnecting and communication after a period of life upheaval.
2. Get physical
It might sound obvious, but nothing brings people together like skin-to-skin contact. When most people think of cultivating physical intimacy in a relationship, they immediately think of sex, but touch can play a far more versatile role in helping to rekindle a spark.
When you receive skin to skin contact from a partner, your body releases oxytocin, which has a number of benefits for your body, mind and relationship. Increased oxytocin production is linked to a decrease in depression and anxiety, better sleep, and a tendency to be more generous in social situations. It also has the power to make you feel closer to your partner, and amplifies positive associations with your memories of them.
This magical chemical can even increase arousal, which is why couples massages, cuddling and even holding hands can all help to get you in the mood. So why not offer to give your partner a back rub, or even jump in a bubble bath together?
3. Comfort or solutions?
Nothing kills the spark in a relationship like miscommunication. No one likes to feel as though they are not being listened to, and it’s equally frustrating to feel like you are constantly trying to help or buoy up your partner emotionally but to seemingly no avail. Thankfully, a lot of these problems can be fixed with one simple question:
Do you want comfort or do you want solutions?
Everyone is raised differently, meaning we all of us come into relationships with very different ideas of how to navigate problems. Some people respond to a dilemma at work by immediately brainstorming ways to fix it, while others will need to vent their emotions before feeling ready to figure out their next move. When these two strategies clash in a relationship it can lead to conflict, as both partners struggle to understand why the other person feels unsatisfied by the outcome of a conversation.
To fix this, try asking if your partner actually wants your help figuring out a way to solve whatever is upsetting them, or whether they just want to feel heard and supported. This trick massively cuts down on miscommunication, and can also build intimacy as both partners are forced to be vulnerable and empathetic.
4. Try something new together
Routines are great for helping you to achieve your goals and stay on an even emotional keel, but they can also make you feel as though you are stuck in a rut. Just as you can get sick of your favourite food if you eat the same meal for too many days in a row, your relationship can also suffer without the spice of variety.
Introducing new variables into your relationship doesn’t have to mean expensive date nights, or flying off to exotic locations on a spur of the moment holiday. Instead, exploring a new hobby or interest with your partner can help you to learn new and unexpected things about them, as well as about how you function as a unit.
Whether you decide to take a pottery class together, start working out side by side, or create a two-person book club and discuss the things you’re reading before bed, new experiences can open up new inside jokes, new ways of communicating and maybe even new lifelong interests!
5. Maintain your own hobbies
As important as it is to have things in common with your partner, it’s also vital to remain your own distinct individual. Having your own friends, your own goals and your own hobbies and interests ensures that you have something more to talk about with your partner than just what you plan on having for dinner that night.
Getting good at a skill, or even just having fun trying something out, gives you confidence that carries over into the rest of your life. Working towards knitting a jumper, mastering a roundhouse kick or being able to beat anyone at chess makes you more determined, a better decision-maker and a less insecure person, which in turn helps your relationship.
Not only that, but having other commitments also forces you to be a more active listener when you do spend time with your partner. Rather than both of you sitting glued to your phones side by side on the couch, you can share stories of your latest dance class or D&D session, and cherish the time you are spending together.