8 Overrated Activities That Don’t Actually Build Closeness In Your Relationship (& What To Do Instead)
Building and maintaining closeness in your relationship is one way to ensure your relationship lasts. There are so many little things you can do to deepen your bond with your partner every day, like have a conversation before you both go to bed. But on the other hand, there are also a few overrated activities couples may be told to do that don't actually help build intimacy in your relationship.
"I think that any activity you truly have to force your partner to do will detract from building intimacy or closeness," relationship expert Dr. Megan Stubbs tells Bustle. Since there are no set rules for what you should be doing in your relationship, Stubbs says, "it isn’t advisable to hold your own to a stringent set of check-lists in order to have the ‘best’ relationship." For instance, your partner may not love shopping, but your friend's partner may love it. Just because others do it, doesn’t mean you have to as well.
Instead, activities that truly build closeness are ones that you want to do together. "Closeness and intimacy come from your shared memories together," she says.
Every couple has activities they love to do together and it really does bring them closer together. But sometimes, you may end up doing things just because you think you should be doing them. So here are some overrated activities that don't necessarily build closeness, according to experts, and what to do instead.
1. Splurging On Luxe Vacations Or Grand Gestures
People tend to think the bigger and more expensive, the better. Like going on a luxury vacation together. "But if the couple truly enjoys spending time with each other, then they could be doing simple things closer to home like going for a walk in the park," licensed marriage and family therapist, Heidi McBain, MA, tells Bustle. "You can get just as much out of the activity if not more, and you end up saving a lot of money at the same time." Grand gestures and big vacations every now and then is something you can do if you're into that. But you can't base the happiness of your entire relationship on that one trip you take each year. When it comes to truly building closeness with your significant other, the little, every day things are what really counts.
2. Date Night At The Movies
"While we live in a digital world, it doesn't mean that it helps to do activities that don't involve conversation with each other," Stef Safran, matchmaking and dating expert, tells Bustle. Going to movies every once in a while can be fun. But when it's a regular way to do date night, Safran says, it's not going to offer the two of you a chance to bond. Same goes with watching Netflix with your significant other. "It can be more of an exercise of you each watching and checking your phone," she says. "We tend to pay less attention to the here and now and have less discussions."
Instead, she suggests doing activities that allow you to relax but also bond. Seeing a live show, for instance, can be one great way to do that. "Seeing something that has you thinking and allows you to talk during intermission requires much more planning than just picking a movie theater," she says. "Creating a real romantic 'date' can have people really enjoying the time away from the daily grind."
3. Having A Set Routine
First off, it’s important to recognize that some people love routine. There's honestly nothing wrong with loving the security of knowing what’s happening day after day. "If that’s your thing and you know it, great," Jane Reardon, licensed therapist and founder of RxBreakup, tells Bustle. "But going out to the same three restaurants can be just as big of a rut as staying home." Being creative and chasing some novelty is key. "Remember it’s about creating memories," she says. "So even if the evening’s a flop, it’ll give you something to laugh about later."
4. Trying Something New That Neither Of You Actually Cares About
Although trying new things together is known to bring you closer together, doing something that neither of you actually cares about isn't going to do much. So before you even book a Thursday night cooking class, Reardon says it's important to take it a little deeper. "Look at where you and your partner share common ground [on]," she says. Is it sports? Music? Playing cards? Books? Cooking? "Figuring out what you both like to do will breathe some new life into the romance with new purpose and shared experiences," she says. If you're foodies instead of discovering another restaurant, you can take a class or two from a professional chef. If you both love to dance, you can take a salsa class that may inspire your next vacation. "The point is to take that shared interest to the next learning level," she says.
5. Going Out For Dinner
Going out for dinner every now and then can be a great way to bond. But don't ever discount the bonding experience you can have when you're at home cooking together. "There is something very intimate about preparing and sharing food that helps people to bond more closely in an unexplainable way," author and lifestyle expert Jaya Jaya Myra tells Bustle. "People who cook and eat together stay together. Try it for yourself and see how you feel."
6. Being Physically Together But Doing Your Own Thing
If you're physically together but mentally off in your own worlds, that's not actually spending time together. "It's nice to spend time with your partner, but there is a big difference between being together in the same space and actually spending time together," Myra says. If your mind and emotions are on something totally different than what your partner is focusing on at the time, you might as well be doing your own thing. It's important to understand that spending time together means doing things that bring you closer together as a couple, she says. "If you spend time in close proximity but aren't really ever together, your relationship can suffer from it."
7. Using Social Media To Declare Your Love For Each Other
There's nothing wrong with giving your partner or your relationship some love on social media. But as author and licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Alexandra Solomon, tells Bustle, posting about each other on social media is certainly an overrated activity. "When we work on how our relationship appears to other people, we are actually moving away from intimacy," she says. "Intimacy rests upon our ability to be authentic with each other, so focusing on how we look to the world might compromise our ability to feel fully ourselves." No one's saying you can't post about your partner on social media. Just don't put a ton of importance on it. "Thriving romantic relationships rely heavily on curiosity about your partner," Dr. Solomon says. "That’s quite different from concern with how we are portraying ourselves." If you really want to tell your partner how much you love them, tell them in person.
8. Being Brutally Honest With Your Partner
We all know how important being honest with your partner is. But as Dr. Solomon says, "Venting your frustrations about your partner to your partner is another overrated activity. Sharing your concerns is important, but it’s just as important not to subscribe to the notion that we are entitled to no-holds-barred expression of all emotions." It's so easy to say something unintentionally offensive to your partner because they know you love them and they'll know what you mean. But that can have a way of breeding resentment if you're not careful. "There’s tremendous value in learning to be more relationally self-aware," she says. There's nothing wrong with practicing some tact, especially with your significant other.
So what does build closeness in your relationship? "Long-term relationships benefit tremendously from adventure, play, and imagination," Dr. Solomon says. "Shake up your routine and put yourselves in a new setting. Novel settings generate novel experiences of yourself and your partner."
If you're a couple who likes going out to the movies every week or taking luxury weekend getaways together, then keep doing you. But doing something just because you think that's what happy couples should be doing on a Friday night, isn't going to make your relationship any happier or closer. It's really all about figuring out which activities you actually enjoy doing together and the ones you really don't. Those are the things that will bring you closer together.