8 Couples Activities That Are Scientifically Proven To Improve Relationships
A relationship rut is one way to weaken the bond you have with your partner. After all, it does take a bit of work to maintain a solid connection that lasts. Luckily, though, that work can be fun — and if you're looking for ideas, there are some science-backed activities you can do with your partner to help to improve your bond.
When it comes to choosing the couples activities you should be doing, Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT, the co-founder of Wright Wellness Center, tells Bustle, there are a few things to keep in mind.
For instance, you want to choose activities that are meant to bring you closer together. That means, you'll actually need to interact with each other, communicate with each other, and be completely present. You should also consider choosing activities that will help you learn more about each other, expand your comfort zones, and enhance your communication skills.
"It's time to put an end to the stereotypical movie dates," Mackenzie Riel, relationship expert with TooTimid, tells Bustle. "The best types of activities to bond allow the two of you to do something fun together, while also being able to have conversation." After all, intimacy and connection are built through meaningful time spent together and communication.
So if you want to improve your bond, here are some couples activities that are scientifically proven to help you do so.
1. Have Sex
Sex naturally bonds people together. For instance, oxytocin or "the love hormone" gets released to help you feel more closely connected to your partner. In fact, a study published in Psychological Science found that couples who had a healthy sex life were more likely to report higher levels of marital satisfaction. It's all thanks to the "sexual afterglow" that can last months after a couple has sex. According to a study by researchers at Florida State University, sex in a committed relationship, specifically, can promote "pair bonding." It must be true since a 2019 eHarmony study on happiness and relationships, couples who have sex daily or weekly have the most satisfying sex lives and the happiest relationships.
2. Listen To Music Together
A 2013 study out of Freie University Berlin found that music helps our ability to connect with others. Music impacts the parts of the brain involved in empathy, trust, and cooperation, all of which are conducive to building a healthy relationship. Another 2009 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing also found that listening to music can also release oxytocin. Patients who listened to "soothing" music for just 30 minutes were found to have higher levels of oxytocin than those who didn't. Since oxytocin is the bonding hormone, listening to some music with your partner is sure to deepen your connection.
3. Volunteer Together
A 2013 study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior found that people who regularly volunteer see spikes in their oxytocin levels after completing charitable acts. Volunteering can increase feelings of social connectedness and it can also help to reduce levels of stress. When you're relaxed and in the mood to connect, bonding with your partner couldn't be any easier. In fact, a 2017 WalletHub survey found, married couples who volunteered together were more likely to stay together.
4. Try New Things Together
A study by psychologist Arthur Aron found that couples who spent time together doing "new and exciting" activities were more satisfied with their relationships. The reason behind this is pretty simple. Couples who actively try new things together are less likely to fall into a rut. When you're both doing something new for the first time, you can bond over the experience together. Depending on the acitivity, you may even see your partner in a whole new light.
5. Travel Together
A 2013 study commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association found that couples who travel together are significantly more satisfied with their relationships. Over 80 percent of couples who travel together say that romance is still alive in their relationship and over 70 percent believe that traveling "inspires romance." According to the report, traveling helps couples strengthen their relationship in a meaningful way. It also gives them time to priotize each other.
6. Do Something Terrifying Together
This can be anything from watching a scary movie to going on a thrill ride. "Research has shown that when couples engage in a novel activity together that heightens their senses and gets their juices flowing, it creates strong feelings of sexual and romantic attraction," Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching, tells Bustle. According to her, there's a longer-term impact as well. Engaging in novel things together also provides couples with shared experiences, conversation material, and a shared identity. "While it may seem counter-intuitive to voluntarily leap into something anxiety-provoking together, your relationship will be stronger for it," Dr. Bobby says.
7. Work Out Together
8. Talk After Sex
A 2013 University of Connecticut study found that couples who talk after sex are more likely to maintain their closeness. Due to the post-orgasm "glow," people tend to feel more comfortable opening up to their partner. You have oxytocin to thank for that. According to the study, many committed couples tend to view pillow talk as a way to maintain closeness and satisfaction with their partners.
So these are just a few science-backed activities you can do to improve your bond. But the reality is, you can do anything you want to do. As long as you're making a conscious effort to spend meaningful time together, you will likely improve the connection you have.