The little butterflies that you get when you first begin a relationship are truly magical. After a while of dating, though, it can become a little trickier to keep the romance alive. Being together for a while has its perks, of course. You develop a deep bond with your partner, and feel comfortable doing and saying pretty much anything around them. But there's something to be said for the tingly feeling that you feel in the early stages of the relationship. According to experts, there are some tips you can use to help that initial spark stay strong for a long time.
Even though neither of you is the exact same person that you were at the beginning of the relationship, try to incorporate some of the early flirtation habits you used when you first got together. This can remind you of those sweet first dates. "Flirting keeps the romantic connection alive and helps prevent you from taking your partner or relationship for granted," Jillian Yuhas, MA, MFT, CPC, a licensed family and marriage therapist and co-founder of Entwined Lifestyle, tells Bustle. "All relationships will have their ups and downs, but the best way to deepen the connection is to show your partner how much you love them through romantic, thoughtful gestures," she says.
Here are some tips for keeping the spark alive for years to come, according to experts.
Surprise Each Other
In the days when you were still flirting, you might have sent a surprise naughty text or presented your partner with their favorite flowers just because you were thinking about them. "Surprise your partner with flowers, a card, balloons, or candy on a day that’s not a special occasion," Tessina says. Even though you've been together for a while, you actually have an advantage now, because you probably know exactly what your partner likes more than you did in the beginning. "Use your best courting behavior, and turn on your charm," she says. "This works because it shows your partner that you’re in love as much as you used to be."
Leave Them Cute Notes
If your text thread with your partner is full of grocery lists and notes about your dog's cold, it's time to switch things up. Write a sweet love note to tuck into the bag they bring to work, Yuhas says. You can also include their favorite candy bar or the scented candle they've been eyeing. "Secretly leaving love notes creates spontaneity and an element of surprise," she says. "This gesture will keep your partner thinking about you all day without letting the relationship slip through the cracks of everyday life tasks." You'll still need to communicate more mundane information to them, but switching it up with a message about how much you care for them can mean a lot.
Silliness can play a major role in keeping you and your partner feeling the spark. "Find activities that take you out of your adult routine and seek them out," Danielle Robin, a certified relationship expert and relationship coach, tells Bustle. "Play games at home. Rent rollerblades. Go get ice cream. Introduce each other to your favorite movie as a teenager." Anything that lets you devote a chunk of time to just enjoying each other's company in a lighthearted way can be effective, and doing the kinds of date activities that you did in high school can remind you of the powerful feeling that having a crush gave you back then.
Change Your Communication Habits
You might have fallen into the routine of asking your partner questions like "How was your day?" or "How are you?" at the end of the day, but those really aren't effective for keeping the butterflies going between the two of you, because they allow simple, routine answers. Instead, be intentional about going deeper. "Create an intentional sharing practice that you can use once a week, and set a time to do it," Robin says. "Set a timer for 10 minutes (or don't) and each share." Discuss what you each have to celebrate in your life at the moment, what feels heavy and is something you'd like to move past, and what you're hoping for.
Show An Interest In Their Passions
When you first started dating, you and your partner were both probably thrilled to learn about each other's favorite movies, books, musicians, and activities. As your relationship progressed and you became busier with life, that sharing might have decreased. "Continue to show that you are interested in your partner’s passions, even when the honeymoon stage has long worn off," dating expert and vice president of Dating.com, Maria Sullivan, tells Bustle. Surprise them with tickets to their favorite standup comedian, or book a weekend getaway to the city they've been dreaming about visiting for as long as you can remember. "This keeps the relationship exciting because you and your significant other will have something to look forward to, and something to make you feel more connected," she says.
Explore New Things
Although surprising your partner with things they've loved the entire time you've been dating can be a great way to keep the tingly feeling going, doing the complete opposite can also be effective. "Keeping things new and fun is key to improving chemistry," Sullivan says. "Don’t be afraid to try new things such as an exotic restaurant or travel to unfamiliar places together." By making these new memories together, you'll be able to delve even deeper into your connection, and find a new aspect to your relationship that you'd never seen before.
It's totally normal to have moments when you don't feel passionately in love with your partner during a long-term relationship. But if you'd like to get the spark strong, try one of these tips and see how lovey-dovey you can still be.