15 Ways To Improve Your Long-Term Relationship

by Dacy Knight
eyecrave/E+/Getty Images

Around the time when you and your significant other start to have more photos together than you do apart, neither party is ever worried about (or even aware of) morning breath anymore, and the bathroom door remains open at all times, no matter what's going on on the other side, you know you're in a long-term relationship. The romance isn't dead, but here are things you should do more in your long-term relationship to make sure the romance stays alive. Big fears for long-term couples are things like getting stuck in a rut or becoming complacent. There's also paranoia surrounding being too much of "a couple" and losing sight of personal ambitions and individual lives. Whether you're celebrating your first anniversary or your fifth, it's never a bad idea to commit to a few romantic acts that guarantee to keep the two of you going strong.

During the honeymoon period of a new relationship, you don't have to try very hard to keep things fresh and exciting. Every activity is a new adventure, and every time you're together you're discovering new things. With the passing of time and shared experience, the novelty wears and there's less mystery. We know each other's likes and dislikes as if they were our own, and become comfortable enough to be our real selves, bathroom door wide open. This newfound level of comfort and sense of security doesn't have to arrive hand in hand with other possibilities of the long-term, like dullness, monotony, and boredom. Embrace the change that comes with time together while ensuring a future that's just as exciting as your past by following these simple ideas to keep the fire burning.

1. Compliment Each Other Often

When we're with someone for the long haul, we can often forget to show our appreciation. Be sure to continue to communicate your interest in them — compliment them when they do something that impresses you, when they look especially nice, or simply when you have the urge to tell them how much you care. You're combatting complacency by verbally providing validation and valuing each other.

2. Write Romantic Letters Or Notes

Just because you're way past the days of courtship doesn't mean it can't still feel like you're pursuing and being pursued. Take the time to leave each other sweet notes hidden in jacket pockets or the bag they take to work. On special occasions, or just because, pen love letters. They'll rev up the romance and also serve as beautiful mementos to return to down the road.

3. Make A Bucket List Together

If things have gotten a little stale in the activity department, join forces to make a bucket list so there's always a go-to for any given night or weekend. Maybe it includes restaurants and bars in your city you've been curious about but haven't gotten around to, or maybe it's more outlandish like getting inked or being in two places at once (à la A Walk To Remember). Whatever makes up your list, planning it out on paper will give you something to look forward to and work toward together.

4. Have A Weekly Date Night

This advice might repeat itself like a broken record, but however long the relationship is that you're in, make time each week for a date night. The evenings can fluctuate in fanciness, but at the end of the day make sure you're setting aside time for each other to enjoy the night as a couple. One week date night could mean cooking dinner at home and curling up with an old movie, and the next it could mean going out on the town for a five course meal. A scheduled date night will ensure that no matter how hectic your lives get, you prioritize spending time with each other, and you can check off your bucket list items while you're at it.

5. Dress Up For Each Other

Make some of your date nights extra special outings that serve as an excuse to dress up. As you become more comfortable in the relationship, things tend to get more casual and you don't make as many opportunities to dress up for one another — not that there's anything wrong with sweats while streaming your favorite shows. Even if it's staying in for a home-cooked meal for two, spruce it up a bit with a dress code. Light the candles, put on some dinner music, and up the ante with evening attire. It always adds to the romance to see your significant other getting suited up for you and you can enjoy their admiring gaze.

6. Surprise Each Other

Even between birthdays, holidays, and other causes for celebration, make an effort to surprise each other. Flowers for no reason are always the best flowers, but go ahead and think out of the box to shower your significant other with something special just to show them you love them. A gesture that's unexpected is always more impactful, and delivering on a random day keeps your romance exciting and unpredictable.

7. Take Trips Together

Traveling with someone can always reveal a couple's true compatibility, so if you're in a long-term relationship, chances are you've proven your love can withstand a trip. Whether it's a weeklong adventure oversees or just a weekend romp in a neighboring city, put taking a couple's trip at the top of your priorities this year. It's the ultimate experience to share together and will provide for some serious memory-making.

8. Take Me Time

Make sure you set aside some time to be completely independent from one another. It could be scheduling separate nights out with friends, or just taking a night off from each other to lounge around solo. Just because you can spend every single evening with your significant other doesn't mean you should. Get back in touch with who you are as you and relearn how to enjoy your own company when they're not around.

9. Do your own things, together

Even when you're not taking a break from each other for "me time," you can still be completely yourself and do your own thing in their company. Get all old school (literally) and schedule some time for D.E.A.R. (or "Drop Everything And Read"). During the hour or so you can be completely immersed in your own recreational reading, uninterrupted, side by side. Time together doesn't have to be all about each other, and you'll appreciate their proximity while getting to do your own thing.

10. Keep Doing The Little Things

When we fall into a relationship routine, it can be easy to forget to do the little things we used to. Forehead kisses, putting the toilet seat back down, preparing coffee while the other sleeps in, are all little things that don't take a whole lot of effort but show you care.

11. Try New Things In The Bedroom

Sex is an important part of every relationship, so make sure both parties are getting what they need in the bedroom. At this point of your relationship you're super comfortable with one another, so it may be an opportunity to explore things previously outside your comfort zone. Instead of a reason to grow bored or uninspired, see your security as an excuse to have even more fun.

12. Learn Together

Sign up for a class together or commit to learning a new skill. Maybe it's cooking together a few nights a week or picking up salsa dancing at a local studio. Don't let skill level be a factor when deciding what to pursue. Just find something you both enjoy and get out there and have fun. You'll be bettering yourselves as a couple and working as a team.

13. Make Time For Friends And Family

All too often, friends and families of individuals in long-term relationships get put on the back burner. Make sure you and your partner are continuing to make them a priority in your lives. Host game nights with friends and dinners with your families. It will keep you from being That Couple (that only ever spends time with each other) and also provide more variety to your social lives.

14. Reminisce About The Beginning Of Your Relationship

Take a stroll down memory lane, hand in hand, and reminisce about the start of your relationship. Confess what you thought about one another when you were first falling in love and divulge secrets like how nervous you were first meeting their parents or how you used to gush about them to your roommates. Retracing the trajectory of your relationship will make you appreciate your journey together, and will help to reignite the flame that burned in the beginning.

15. Celebrate For No Reason

One doesn't always need an excuse to pop some champagne and engage in some revelry. Whenever you sense the need to enjoy a little release, make it a call for a celebration. Maybe your partner had a particularly tough week at work or you had a minor fight that morning and want to ease a little of the tension. Pick up a six-pack and groceries on the way home and make an impromptu taco night. Or if you get out of work early on a random Friday, send them a cryptic text to meet you at bar right by their office, then take them on an spontaneous bar-hop, just because you know they need it.

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