Welcome to Ask Anka, a weekly column where sex therapist Anka Radakovich dives deep into your most intimate issues with advice and tips to help you live your best sex and relationships life. Have a question for Anka? Drop us a DM (no fear, we'll keep it anonymous) on Instagram @Brides.
What should I do when he suddenly doesn't seem as romantic as he used to be?
Ah, romance; it’s the fun part of any relationship. And also the part that can suddenly slip away. But romance can easily return to the picture. Sometimes all it takes is bringing awareness to your partner that you still love it. Don’t get mad; do these things instead.
Lead by Example
Start being more romantic yourself, in ways you would like to see in your relationship. Couples just get so busy that they start treating their spouses or partners like roommates. Fellow sex therapist Chris Donaghue tells me, “Too many people expect mind reading and then punish their partner for not giving them what they want. Express what romantic looks like for you, and tell your partner what you miss.”
You could spontaneously buy him something funny or surprise him by answering the door in sexy lingerie and heels. (“I would hate seeing my woman in smokin’ hot lingerie,” said no one ever.)
In his new book Rebel Love, Break the Rules, Destroy Toxic Habits, and Have the Best Sex of Your Life—that I can’t stop reading BTW—Chris writes stuff like, “There is no need to sit passively waiting for romance from your partner. You have to discuss what your expectations and disappointments are. It is common that being romantic is treated as a stage early in relationships, with many letting it go thinking it’s no longer needed once there is a serious commitment or time goes by. Remember,” he writes, “that getting what you want because you asked for it directly will always feel romantic.”
Go on More Dates or Make a Monthly or Weekly Date Night
The idea is to simulate the excitement of when you were first dating. Part of the thrill is getting all dolled up, wearing a new outfit, and meeting somewhere new. Hold hands while you’re there like you used to do. On The Bachelor, they show people going on date after date, not just sitting around on their couch watching TV. Watching The Bachelor together, however, can be a great ironically romantic date—enjoy counting just how many women the bachelor can make out with in a single episode.
Watch a Romantic Movie Together
Like La La Land. If you've already watched that one, watch the 1962 movie that La La Land's French director was inspired by, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Trust me, even a hardcore macho man will have his heart softened by this charming vintage movie about a young French girl (Catherine Deneuve) whose fiancé is called to the Algerian War while she waits for him back home. Like the film La La Land, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, they sing to each other! It will make you both cry. And hug. And swear you will always wait for each other to come home. (And here are several more options to get you started.)
Start Flirting Again
And don’t stop. Never stop flirting. You did it constantly when you first met, so why stop now? One of the most common things that men say is their #1 reason for cheating on their wives was surprisingly not that they wanted sex from someone else, but that they wanted more attention and felt neglected. Text him during the day and tell him he’s sexy and you’re thinking about him. Give him more compliments, not expecting any back. In the end, you’ll get some back.
Frederick D. Mondin, a sex therapist and professor of human sexuality who has counseled couples for the past 35 years, writes in his new book Erotic Love & Marriage: Improve Your Sex Life and Emotional Connection, “Romance is the music in any love relationship. When couples stop romancing each other, they have stopped the music, removed the art, and closed the theater in their relationship. Romancing is opening your heart to each other. When you are celebrating your partner with compliments and love language you are making music and poetry with each other. Couples need to continue to play music with each other. Positive reinforcement puts the music, poetry, and theater back in your relationship.”
So go forth and make music!
Anka Radakovich is a couple’s counselor, certified sexologist, and sex therapist. Follow her on Twitter @ankarad.