Part of the magic of being in a new relationship is all that drunk-in-love oxytocin that's responsible for your stomach butterflies. That kind of chemical reaction is hard to maintain over long periods of time, so you might find yourself needing to spark your connection when things get stale. I'm not saying that love is merely a chemical reaction. It's a mix of things, like adoration, respect, closeness, and a million other wonderful things. What nobody tells you about love is that those wonderful things take a lot of hard work to maintain, and if you or your partner aren't diligent about that work, you could find your connection growing cold.
No worries, though. This happens to all couples. I saw it all the time in my work as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator. Sometimes life just gets in the way, and your comfortable relationship takes a back seat to more pressing life matters. When this happens, all you need is a little boost to get your connection back. It's like when you're camping and your fire turns to embers. It's not out yet — it just needs some more fuel and a little attention and it will be hotter than ever. So hot, in fact, that you could cook marshmallows over it. Not that I recommend that. Marshmallows are sticky. Anyway, here are some steps you can take to get your closeness back in your relationship. They can also be used to take an already close relationship to the next level. Get ready for the butterflies to return!
1. Spread Some Meme Magic
If you see a meme or sappy quote on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else in the overwhelmingly bottomless pit of the Internet, take a second to send it to your love. I just got one that said, "when I think of you, I smile like an idiot because you're my favorite" and it made me ridiculously happy. It only takes a second, and you're probably already looking at memes instead of doing work anyway, so use this time as a way to make your partner feel the love. It's totally worth it.
2. Share Loving Energy
Meditation has about a billion health benefits. That's a fact. But what if you could also use meditation to strengthen your love? Try this, even if you're skeptical, and see how it makes you feel. Sit facing your partner, holding hands if you like. Take a few deep breaths and relax your body. Picture yourself (your partner does this, too) sending a bright beam of warm, loving light into your partner, kind of like a Care Bear Stare. At the same time, picture your partner's beam of loving energy entering your body. Concentrate of feeling and receiving the love, letting it wash over your body. Bak in the loving feels!
3. Go On An Adventure
Adventures remind you that you're friends and that you like spending time together. You don't have to have money to go on an adventure, either. Hiking the local parks, or just driving around looking at cool scenery can be an adventure. Anything that takes you out of your normal routine and forces you to focus on each other while experiencing something new is fair game.
4. Have Intentional Sex
A great way to connect is to actually physically connect your bodies. I'm not talking about the fun, sweaty sex or the casual "just have needs" sex (though those are great too). I'm talking about the kind of sex where you take your time and make it a point to really connect in a deep and personal way. Where you look into each other's eyes. Where you are really emotionally present. Where you take the time to touch and to explore. It doesn't have to be a marathon session either, it just has to be above and beyond your day-to-day intimacy. And you both have to be into it, of course.
5. Touch More Often
Touch can go by the wayside when your life is stressed or busy. You'd be surprised just how much a little affection can grow your bond. Physical affection is essential to a close connection. It not only releases the love hormones in your body, but it is also associated with better health and improved overall relationship satisfaction, according to KoryFloyd, Ph.D., in an article for Psychology today. Steal as many tiny moments as you can for hugs, kisses, or even just a gentle pat on the knee.
6. Give More Compliments
Tell your partner that they look nice. Praise them for making a great meal. Tell them they're smart when they come up with an awesome solution to a problem. Compliments help you to remind each other what you love about each other and that you still very much like each other. Liking each other is just as important as loving each other.
7. Set Aside Time To Talk And Catch Up
You'd be surprised how much a simple daily conversation can contribute to your overall sense of closeness. You need to talk about your day in order to feel like you know each other and are a part of each other's lives. A simple way to start is to play a game before bed where you list your two favorite parts of the day and your worst part of the day. These kinds of games often open up bigger and longer conversations that help you connect.
8. Hang Out With Other Happy Couples
You are the people you surround yourself with. When you're surrounded with loving, happy couples, do you feel more loving and happy? Think about a time when you were at a wedding or a party with lots of happy couples. Did it make you want to touch and love your partner? The people you surround yourself with can have a strong influence on your relationship. Choose wisely.
9. Be More Present In Your Daily Lives
If you're at the kitchen table looking at your phone, can your partner literally walk in, get a snack, and walk out without you even noticing they were there? That's because you're not present in your life together. You're present in your phone. Every once in a while make an effort to notice and be present. Say "hi" when they walk in a room. Put your phone away when you're having a conversation. These little things make a huge difference in your feelings of connectedness.
10. Perform Random Acts Of Kindness
Gifts are awesome. So are love notes. So is doing a chore your partner hates. So is letting your partner sleep in while you handle the kids or pets. There are an endless number of opportunities in each day to do something kind for the person you love. It might make you feel good too.
11. Share Your Gratitude
There are so many opportunities to show your gratitude in a relationship that you're probably missing out on. When your partner passes you the remote, a simple "thank you, honey" shows gratitude. It's also important to tell your partner that you are grateful for all they do, and also that you're grateful for their very existence.
12. Get Your Communication Skills On Point
Nothing makes you feel more alone in a relationship than when you and your partner just can't seem to get on the same page. Communication is crucial to any healthy relationship, but it's also a super important part of feeling connected. If you aren't communicating well, you won't feel heard and understood. That's a terrible, disconnected feeling that can make you doubt your relationship. If a frank talk about your communication skills isn't enough, there's no shame in seeing a relationships expert or therapist to learn healthier communication skills.
13. Resolve Lingering Issues
Resentment can cause distance. Resentment happens for a lot of reasons, but probably the most common reason is ignoring problems or letting issues go unresolved. When you don't say how you feel, and when you can't get a problem solved, you end up with this toxic internal build up of anger and, hostility, sadness, and regret. If your distance id because of resentment over lingering problems, do whatever it takes to solve those problems, even if that means seeing a therapist or making big changes.
14. Remember What You Love About Each Other
If you're going through a rough patch, you're probably spending a lot of time focusing on the things your partner does that make you want to flee the country. I'm not telling you to ignore those feelings, but every once in a while, take a break from them, and spend time thinking about why you love your partner. What is it about them that makes them so awesome? They're your person. Remind yourself why for an instant boost of connectedness.
15. Open Your Heart
It's easy to feel closed off, shut down, and a little distant in your relationship, especially if you''re going through a rough patch. Shutting down is a defense mechanism. To some degree, it can be a healthy way to get through your day, especially when you need to focus on work and leave your relationship problems at home. But in a lot of cases, it walls you off from the good parts of being in a relationship. Try to remain open and loving, even when it's not your natural instinct. If you shut off when you go to work, make sure to turn back on when you get home. You have to be open to the good and the bad feelings that come with being a relationship.
While a lot of these strategies can help you get reconnected, there are few things more powerful than simply saying "I'm feeling disconnected, how can we fix this?" Communication is one of your most powerful relationship tools.
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