In the era of sweatpants and working from home (often right next to our partner), we are all in serious need of some romance. Even without the quarantine of 2020, relationships become routine, and it can feel like the honeymoon phase is a distant memory, never to return.
But according to experts Susan Winter, Elizabeth Overstreet, and Dr. Terri Orbuch, it is natural for those initial months or years of excitement to settle down. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that your relationship becomes calmer and less of a thrill ride as time goes on. Dr. Orbuch calls this “companionate love, which is the love that keeps people together.”
Meet the Expert
- Susan Winter is a relationship expert and bestselling author.
- Elizabeth Overstreet is a relationship and love strategist based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
- Dr. Terri Orbuch is a professor at Oakland University and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great.
Winter adds, "Lust and desire will normally die down as the roots of love grow deeper. Cultivate the light and play and the laughter,” or in other words, bring back a sense of adventure and fun.
If you’re aching to bring back some romance and excitement, take notes. Here are 14 ways to be romantic in a relationship, according to the experts.
Talk It Out
There’s nothing like talking something to death to kill the romance, but if you and your partner are struggling, communicating about what you’re each missing and how you’re feeling about the relationship can go a long way to bringing back the lust. Dr. Orbuch suggests communicating about your expectations when it comes to romance and listening to each other’s needs and desires. She says it’s important for couples to understand that “they have control and the power to add romance, passion, and excitement to their relationship.”
As Overstreet says, it’s important to “celebrate the minutes of the moments of the hour.” Give each other a kiss before and after your day, if that’s important to you, and especially if that gesture has fallen by the wayside. Set aside some tech-free time to tell each other a few things you’re grateful for, or things you appreciate about the other person. Send a flirty text or make a surprise call in the middle of the day, or leave a sweet or sexy note for your partner. “The number one glue to keeping couples happy is appreciation and acknowledgment,” adds Winter. These seemingly small gestures can have a major impact on romance, and bring you closer together without you having to plan a trip to Paris or Rome.
Learn Your Love Languages
Love languages are the ways we prefer to express and receive love. If you aren't already fluent in your partner's preferred love language, now would be a good time to have a conversation about them. Understanding whether it's words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, acts of service, or quality time that light your partner up can open up the channels for romance to flow. Similarly, knowing how your partner prefers to express their love and affection to you (which is not always the same way they like to receive love) can help you recognize when they're making a bid for connection.
Overstreet says that thinking back on tender, sensual, or sweet moments can help bring couples closer. Bring out an old Valentine’s Day card your partner gave you that was extra romantic or look at photos of your honeymoon or past trips. Taking time to remember the romantic moments you’ve shared can reignite that attraction, and pull you out of your routine (and your sweats!).
Recreate Romantic Moments
To take it a step further, instead of reminiscing, actually recreate some of your most romantic times together. “Returning to the place you first met or reenacting a first date can kick in the feeling of the magic and romance that was there in the beginning,” says Winter. “It can kick-start a flood of happy memories." And those memories, in turn, can lead to romance.
Return to the place of your proposal or the spot you first said “I love you.” Or, set up a surprise date night at the restaurant you used to go to every Friday in those early days.
Prioritize Your Partner
As time goes on, it’s easy to get consumed by work or kids or the stresses of everyday life (or wedding planning!), but there is nothing wrong with prioritizing your partner. In fact, it’s essential. If your partner walks in from work and the kids are screaming, normalize going to your partner first and showing them affection. There’s nothing selfish about it. “Your relationship is the foundation,” Overstreet says. “If your kids are watching, it’s healthy to see their parents connecting.” It’ll also remind your partner, and you, that you have a romance in the midst of the chaos.
Stay True to Yourself
Bringing back romance isn’t all about doing things for your partner, as important as that can be. Focusing on yourself and your passions is also key. It’s easy to lose yourself in a relationship, but cultivating your own interests is important. “It creates mystery and makes you feel good, and you bring that energy back to the relationship,” says Overstreet.
Work on Yourself
In a similar vein, investing time and love into yourself is just as important to maintaining a healthy relationship as focusing on the connection between you and your partner. Your relationship can only be as grounded and stable as you are, so working on your personal growth and development can only strengthen the foundation of your love. Whether that's inner healing, seeing a therapist, continuing education, mindset evolution, or working on your physical health, you’re much more likely to seek out some romance if you feel confident and amazing in your own skin.
Create a Relationship Bucket List
To break up the routine, sit down and create an ongoing list of things you want to do over the next year together. Maybe it’s skydiving or taking a road trip or learning to surf. Maybe it’s watching Bridgerton together or planting a garden. The items are whatever you two dream of trying as a couple. Even the act of sitting down to write the list can be romantic, funny, and sensual. It can bring you closer by getting to know one another's inner yearnings, whether you check off all the items or not.
Bring Back the Adventure
If it’s the thrill you’re missing, plan dates that are a little daring. Winter says that one of the conflicts of long-term love is that “in order to have stability, you give up adventure and spontaneity.” Adding back that adventure can also up the romance. She suggests rock climbing, rafting, a hot air balloon ride, a tango class, or even a trapeze lesson. Anything wild and a little scary to bring back that thrill and pull you both out of your comfort zone is a good start. You can also set up a treasure hunt for your partner, which is a little more tame than rafting, but can be just as exciting. The clues can be romantic reminders of moments you shared, and the end prize will be: you!
In the early days of a relationship, it’s easy to spend a weekend wandering around, exploring new places, and forgetting about your daily routine. Since that becomes tougher over time, perhaps you and your partner can hop in the car or subway, and just get lost together. Maybe you need a babysitter to pull this one off, but spend a day or a few hours just exploring, with no plans and no destination. Stop at places that look interesting, have a spontaneous picnic in a pretty spot you happen to find, or just cruise around and enjoy some freedom, and time, together. You can always pull out your map app at the end of the day to find your way home.
While we all love a good celebration, we often put off the moment or forfeit it completely to attend to the more pragmatic necessities of adulthood. Whether those distractions are work, children, aging parents, pets, or just the daily grind of life, we tend to value our attention to them over more festive experiences. Similar to prioritizing your partner, however, honoring opportunities to acknowledge not only milestones and major achievements but the small wins (both individual and relationship) between you fosters a sense of teamwork, recognition, and positivity.
Mix It Up in the Bedroom
“It’s normal for sex to become redundant,” says Overstreet. You don’t have to go to drastic lengths to up your sex life—vary the positions, the places, and the times for a start. Adding an element of surprise can go a long way to bringing energy back to your intimacy and, in turn, reigniting some much needed romance.
While spontaneity may be the spice of life (and of love, in this case), it's consistency that stokes the flames of an enduring relationship. Be intentional about maintain the romance and connection you have with one another so you won't need the urgent pang of excitement just to feel something. Scheduling recurring date nights and moments of intimacy, as well as carving out time to just listen to one another or cuddle together in silence, sets up a system of accountability that ensures these things will never get lost to the more mundane aspects of life and cultivates an ongoing agenda of things to look forward to.