After you've been with your partner for a decent chunk of time, your relationship will likely become a comfortable free-for-all of zit popping, sweatpants-wearing, and peeing with the door open. And that's awesome. It's totally OK to be out in the open with each other, and it might even be a sign of how deeply you're in love. But when it comes to keeping your initial attraction alive there are definitely a few things you can do to
keep the spark in your relationship.
"Attraction is an emotional, physical, and behavioral dance between two people," clinical psychologist and
The Web Radio Show host Dr. Josh Klapow tells Bustle. "What you say, what you do, how you say it, and how you do it all play into your level of attraction." For example, there's a big difference between going all out and focusing on each other during date night, versus going out and staring into your phones.
In the latter example,
you're essentially telling each other other you don't matter, and that can kill attraction over time. So it's important to make each other comfortable. "Be you, be comfortable, but be that in the context of your partner," Klapow says. "Relationships are about comfortable compromise." So to keep that connection strong, here are a few things experts advise against in long-term relationships.
Making Fun Of Them All The Time, Even If You're Joking
While it's obviously fine to poke fun at each other in a teasing, flirting kind of way, make sure you don't take it
too far or get too serious about it. "Maybe your partner is happy about something they are wearing, or something they did, or something they accomplished," says Klapow. "When that isn’t validated it can make them feel bad, but when it is taken a step further and you tease, mock, or criticize — the attraction goes away very quickly." Make sure you know when it's appropriate to be playful, you wouldn't want to hurt their feelings when they're looking for your support.
Focusing On Negativity 24/7
We all have our fair share of problems, and your partner can certainly be your support system for issues, but try to create a balance between the good and the bad. Vent about your day, get worries and concerns off your chest, but then take some time to enjoy the moment, and have fun together. As
certified counselor Jonathan Bennett says, when time isn't taken to enjoy each other, it can harm your relationship with your partner.
Paying More Attention To Your Phone
You're both busy, and you have things going on outside your relationship, so it's totally OK to answer a text from a friend or respond to work emails when you're hanging out together. But if you're making dinner, watching a movie, or heading out for a date, make an effort to put your phones away. "In a relationship, everyone wants to feel special and appreciated," Bennett says. And ignoring your partner in favor of answering your texts is a quick way to ruin that.
Focusing Too Much On What You Don't Like About Yourself
Insecurities are a common part of what it means to be human, but we shouldn't expect our partner to fix what we feel is wrong with us. According to
relationship counselor and dating coach Samantha Burns, MA, LMHC, complaining to your partner about every little flaw can affect attraction in relationships. Of course, we all have weak moments, but it's important to remember that a good partner will love you for who you are — and that includes your flaws.
Purposefully Trying To Gross Your Partner Out
Depending on what type of relationship you have, your partner might find it absolutely hilarious that you can burp the ABCs. But if they have a pet peeve, or even a phobia, don't go out your way to gross them out just because it'll make you laugh
. As licensed psychologist Nicole Prause, PhD tells Bustle, studies have shown that disgust can affect feelings of arousal — especially for women.
While you should feel free to be your truest self at home and in your relationship, if
you know something grosses your partner out and it can easily be avoided, it's probably the best way to go.
Spending Too Much Time Together
Yes, you're in love. And yes, your partner is your best friend. But that doesn't mean you need to spend every waking moment together. In fact,
therapist Jenn Kennedy, LMFT tells Bustle spending time apart is actually a good thing, as it helps to insert a bit of mystery in your relationship.
"Long term, you have to keep feeling like you never fully know the other [person] all together," she says. "That is achieved by having separate interests or experiences that you can bring back to one another. That might be by taking a class or reading a book or making new friends. You want to have fresh air to breath onto the flame of passion. You having interests is attractive."
Constantly Talking About Who You Find Attractive
Again, this may be cool in some relationships. But take note if your significant other squirms whenever you mention your celebrity crush. "It’s natural to find other people attractive. However, if you’re constantly talking about your celebrity crushes, coworkers you like, and your admiration for people other than your partner, it can kill the passion in the relationship," Bennett says.
Failing To Show Interest In Something They're Excited About
While you certainly can't be "on" for each other 24/7, it is important to show interest in what your partner is saying or doing,
NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle — especially if they're excited about it. Did your significant other get a new haircut? Are they trying out a new makeup? Put down whatever you're doing and give them a few minutes of your time. And maybe even offer a compliment or two. They'll really appreciate it.
Complaining All The Time
It's totally OK to share things with your partner. I mean, that's kind of what they're there for, right? To hear the details of your day, bad and good? But if you're in the habit of
complaining 24/7, or talking about everything that's happened to you ever, it may be a bit overwhelming, depending on the type of relationship you have. "It’s important to feel comfortable sharing things with your partner, but you don’t need to share everything," Hershenson. "Disclosing all your thoughts and feelings at one time can be one a burden." Sharing everything with your partner or focusing just on the negative things in your life can put too much on your partner's shoulders, making them feel uncomfortable. And this goes for any relationship — even friendships sometimes struggle with the weight of issues if one person focuses solely on the negative.
Not Feeling Empowered To Express Yourself Sexually
It's always fun to be approached by a totally smitten significant other, who just can't take their eyes off you. But feel empowered to express yourself sexually with your partner in a way that you both feel comfortable with and enjoy. "Attraction is about not relying on your partner to make you feel desirous, and instead taking responsibility to do the things that turn yourself on," Burns says. Know that you're an incredibly sexy being, and let your partner know too.
One of the best things about a long-term relationship is the comfort level, and those nights spent curled up watching movies. But if you want to keep things fun, experts say to vary it up. "If you need to boost attraction, think about how you behaved with your partner at the beginning of the relationship," Burns says. Did you go on dates? Have sex at random hours of the day? Bring that back in a way that feels good for both of you, and according to experts, you'll be able to keep attraction alive for years to come.
Attraction is unique to every couple, and keeping that spark alive doesn't always follow a formula. But if you're looking for places to start, maintaining that comfort-level, respecting your partner, and having confidence in your relationship is the best way to keep things moving forward.