You’ve been together with your partner for a long time, and while you love them a lot, things just aren’t quite the same. If you feel like you’ve lost the spark, that’s actually a very common concern in long-term relationships—and there are things you can do to get it back. From purchasing a new sexy bra to trying out new activities together, here are eight ideas to help you rekindle the fire in your relationship:
1. Accept That Relationships Change Over Time
The early days of a relationship are full of infatuation and sexual arousal. Once you commit to the long haul and settle in, those feelings fade over time as your emotional attachment deepens. You’re just as likely (if not more likely) to spend the night talking or watching TV together as you are to have alone time. This is totally normal and an expected part of any relationship! You shouldn’t expect those same heady emotions in the early days to remain the same. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t try to keep the spark alive, or to kindle a new spark.
2. Try New Experiences Together
Part of the reason the spark fades is that the initial feeling of novelty is replaced by routine and familiarity. Some of this is a good thing (you no longer have to be anxious about whether or not you’re compatible!), but it can result in a relationship that feels a little mundane. To help shake things out, seek out new experiences together. Instead of going to your favorite restaurant for the tenth time, try out a new place in a different neighborhood. Or, better yet, skip the restaurant altogether and try out a truly novel idea, like a date night painting class or rock climbing. This will help keep your relationship and your life feeling fresh.
3. Experiment Together
Speaking of new experiences, one of the most important places to pursue this is in the bedroom. There’s a lot of value in knowing what makes you and your partner feel good, but it’s a good idea to branch out sometimes and try out something new, even if that just means wearing a lacy bra. And your physical intimacy doesn’t have to be restricted only to sexy times. Kissing and hugging throughout the day is also a great way to physically express your affection for each other, even if you’re not trying to bring the heat in the moment.
4. Make an Effort for Each Other
Remember the early days of your relationship, when you carefully showered and shaved and chose an outfit and put on your makeup before every date? As your relationship gets older, it’s easy to let things slide, until you only wear sweatpants around each other and deodorant becomes optional. While you shouldn’t feel like you have to wear shapewear around your partner 24/7, it is nice to put some effort in every once in a while and get dressed or otherwise take a little extra care than you normally would. It doesn’t have to be an everyday thing, but that’s what makes it special.
5. Make Time for Each Other, Alone
Once you move in together, you spend so much passive time together that it’s easy to forget to actively spend time together. After all, sitting next to each other on the couch while you separately scroll through your phones isn’t the same as going on a date night. Deliberate time together becomes even more difficult once you add kids to the mix. Not only are you exhausted, but there’s also an interruption waiting around every corner. It takes effort to make quality time for each other (not to mention schedule a babysitter), but it’s so important for maintaining your relationships and keeping your connection alive.
6. Create Some Space
Taking time apart is also important for couples, especially for introverts who need time to recharge apart from other people. Taking constructive time apart from your partner can give you the breather that you need and remind you why you love being around them so much in the first place. In fact, when you’re really upset at each other, it’s often better to take some time apart to cool off; otherwise, you’ll probably just end up arguing anyway. Your partner can’t meet all of your needs (no one can!) so don’t be afraid to take an hour to yourself to meditate or meet up with the girls for coffee.
7. Communicate Regularly
Clear communication about everything—from emotions to errands—is key to a successful ongoing relationship. Sure, tools like texting and emails are convenient for asking them to take care of chores, but they’re not really good venues for deep conversations that will sustain a relationship. Set aside your phones and concentrate on having real conversations about your emotional needs and dreams for the future. These conversations are more common at the beginning of relationships, but they often fade over time, which is exactly why you should bring them back.
8. Make Some Love Vows
It’s time to renew or make your love vows—and no, we’re not talking about your marriage vows. “Love vows” are smaller promises that reflect your individual love languages. They can be everything from committing to one phone-free hour together a day, planning for an annual couple’s vacation or giving each other a sensual massage. The needs can be physical, emotional or a blend of the two. Making these “love vows” is a great way to get each partner to focus on specific things they can do to support and please their significant other instead of lumping it all into one big amorphous category.
Relationships change, but that doesn’t mean you have to let yours get boring and stale. Try these eight techniques to keep the spark alive in your relationship.