The honeymoon stage doesn't last forever, but that doesn't mean the romance can't stay alive throughout the course of your relationship. How to keep romance alive in a long-term relationship is a question many couples have, and it will require a little extra effort. That's why experts recommend being aware of the little habits that may affect the romance in your relationship. This doesn't mean you shouldn't allow yourself to become comfortable with your partner, but it does mean you should pay attention to some of your behaviors that might leave your relationship feeling dull and uneventful.
"As most people will notice, after the initial excitement and novelty wear off, couples settle into the comparatively quieter, more stable, but less stimulating phase of the relationship," clinical psychologist Dr. Traci Stein tells Bustle. "When people feel more comfortable with each other, they can slip into patterns of behavior that they wouldn’t engage in with a new person. To some extent, it’s great to be able to 'be yourself' with your partner. But it’s worth asking how you would feel if your partner did the same thing, or did it too often."
And while it is common to want to relax into that comfortable, stable part of your relationship, it never hurts to change things up. Here are seven little daily habits experts say can affect the romance in your relationship.
1. Staring At Your Phone
It's tempting to want to unwind and scroll mindlessly through social media, but if you're not giving your partner your full attention, you will seem less engaged to them. "Staring at your phone never bothers the person doing it, but it can be really disengaging and off-putting," says Stein. "I see couples at restaurants where one or both are tapping away at the phone and basically ignoring each other." And if you or your partner are not present in the moment, it can affect the connection and subsequent romance that may result.
2. Not Feeling Secure In Your Relationship
If you're not sure of how your partner is feeling, and you're afraid that they may be considering a breakup, then it's hard to keep romance alive. According to a study done in the journal Motivation and Emotion, those who feel their is a risk that their partner will leave them do not feel romance or commitment as strongly as those who feel secure in their relationship. But feeling like a breakup might happen doesn't mean it will — if either you or your partner are not feeling secure in the relationship, take a second to evaluate whether either of you have been going out of your way to tell your partner how you feel. If both of you have not been taking the time to show each other appreciation, you might be more likely to think that a breakup will happen. And ultimately, that is what's killing the romance, as opposed to your actual feelings.
3. Picking Small Fights
The longer you and your partner have been together, the more tempting it is to nit-pick at certain pet peeves you might have for each other. For instance, you may want to keep your shared living space neat at all times, but your partner may not be the most organized person, and as a result you find yourselves bickering over little messes. "[Y]our messy partner might not fit into this kind of lifestyle," relationship expert Audrey Hope tells Bustle. "[Your need to keep things tidy] can start fights over silly things." Although it is typical and healthy of couples to fight, these types of quarrels can be avoided. And if your partner perceives that you may be trying to change them, this could lead to further tension within the relationship.
4. Needing To "Work Everything Out"
It's great to have regular and open communication with your partner, but not every little issue needs to be a serious, analytical discussion. "You might be in therapy and into discussing what is on your mind, but too much of analyzing all the little things that happen and having to work it out perfectly can send your mate out the door," says Hope. While certain disagreements are completely necessary to talk through, bickering over something small may be something you can move passed.
5. Constantly Complaining About Work
You should of course be able to feel comfortable talking to each other about what’s going on at work, but if you notice that you are spending most of your time together complaining about issues in the office, it may be a good idea to switch topics. "Bringing your work stress home with you only adds stress and strain to your relationship," relationship expert Fila Antwine tells Bustle. "Keep added problems to a minimum, and try not to discuss work related issues for more than 10 to 20 minutes a day." This way, you can focus on the two of you in the present moment — and that may help your current work worries more than you thought.
6. Forgetting That Goodbye Kiss
It seems so small, but just one kiss can make a significant difference in your relationship's romance. "Days get busy, and we often rush out without kissing each other," says Antwine. "Kissing is such a connective act. It stimulates the brain and body. Even if you don’t have sex for a few day, your kisses keep you locked in love. Remember to at least kiss your partner hello and goodbye each day to stay physically and emotionally tied together for the duration of the day."
7. Not Spending Any Time Apart
Staying passionate doesn't require that you spend all your time together. "Demanding your partner’s constant attention, not having outside interests or friends, or extreme jealousy are toxic to romance," says Stein. It's healthy to spend time away from your partner, and doing so will not only make sure you maintain your friendships outside of your relationship, but it can help keep the romance alive.
Even though the early days of the honeymoon period are over, the romance doesn't have to go with it. By being mindful of these habits, experts say you can ensure the spark stays while keeping a happy, healthy relationship.