When you first start dating someone, ever moment spent together feels new and exciting. However, it's common as time goes on to feel less of that electric spark once you settle into routine. If this happens to you, it can be helpful to look at the habits of long-term couples who are still excited to be around each other. Just because you've been in a relationship for awhile doesn't mean it has to feel dull. You might not ever get back to that exact blissful honeymoon stage, but with the right habits, you can still feel joy at spending time with your partner day by day.
"Relationships take work and effort," says psychologist Dr. Piper S. Grant, PsyD, MPH over email. "Thinking about the beginning of a relationship, during the courting process, each person puts effort into the other one. There is no reason why that effort should stop even though the relationship is committed and time has passed. Unfortunately as relationships age, the effort can lessen and the priority of keeping that spark alive goes on the back burner. It is important though to keep up 'good habits' in your relationship because it shows your partner that you care about the relationship and care about them."
To prevent a relationship from getting stale, consider these 11 habits of long-term couples who are still excited to be around each other.
1They Embrace Affection
According to one study published in The American Journal of Family Therapy, people in more physically affectionate relationships are happier and more satisfied. "The 'honeymoon phase' is the stage in the beginning of a relationship where affection is at its strongest, and keeping your hands off each other is impossible," says relationship expert Lori Bizzoco over email. "Make sure that this stage of your relationship never goes away. Continuing to have affection with one another can help strengthen your intimacy and chemistry you have with one another."
2They Break Routine
Instead of watching Netflix together every single night without fail, try switching up the activities you do together. "It’s essential for long-term couples to not act as if they’re long-term couples," says Bizzoco. "There’s a high chance of falling into routines when being with someone for an extended period of time. Keep the spark alive by avoiding routines that can make your relationship feel old and boring."
3They Maintain A Healthy Sex Life
Maintaining a healthy sex life is important, and that doesn't just mean having sex regularly. It also involves being open with each other and sharing what you like and what they don't. "These couples understand and value the emotional connection that is promoted through their sexual relationship," says therapist Jim Seibold, PhD LMFT over email. "For these couples, is it not just an act of physical pleasure, but one of deep emotional connection."
4They Show Interest In The Other Person's Life
It's easy to get excited to see your partner when you're invested in their life as much as your own. "These couples are interested in what the other does, and they actually take the time at dinner or at the end of the day to actually ask them what they did," says psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula over email. "They are genuinely interested in the answer."
5They Notice The Little Things
Couples who still remain excited notice both the big things and little things. "They notice how their shirt brings out the blue in their eyes, or they still see the person who caught your eye all those years ago," says Durvasula.
6They Make Each Other A Priority
It should never feel like a burden to spend time with your partner. "They make each other a priority," says Durvasula. "They will perhaps step away from something like a party to be there for their partner, or take the extra few moments to take the call, or simply rearrange things for their partner in a way they won't for others. And this is reciprocal."
7They Share Adventure
You don't have to jet off to Bali to have an experience that keeps things exciting — you can have small adventures too. "Whether it's a new local restaurant, local travel, a local event, new things keep us excited, and when that is shared, it brings spark," says Durvasula.
8They Grow As Individuals
"Too often couples stagnate in their relationship because they stop growing as individuals," says counselor Monte Drenner over email. "Try new things, go new places, learn a new skill, try a new hobby. The growth from these experiences will have a synergetic effect on the growth of the relationship. It’s easier to stay excited about being around someone when they have new experiences to share."
9They Stay Vulnerable
Relationships can stagnate due to a lack of new discoveries about each other. "As we age, our perspective and feelings about the important things in life can change," says Drenner. "Communicating these emotions helps draw people closer together emotionally which only strengthens the relationship."
10They Enjoy A Good Laugh
Finding humor in your relationship goes a long way. "Studies show that couples who laugh together often are more emotionally connected and enjoy being around each other," says psychotherapist Maureen Werrbach, LCPC over email. "Having inside jokes and being able to laugh together is a surefire way to keep the excitement up in your relationship." According to a study published in Personal Relationships, couples who share laughs together have longer, healthier, more vital relationships.
11They Focus On The Positives
"Every piece of research on couples show that couples who see the positives in their partner, especially during conflict, are much more likely to enjoy being around one other," says Werrbach. "They see their partner for who they are, flaws and all, and choose to have a positive perspective of their partner."