Experts Say These 9 Hacks Can Help Breathe Some Life Into A Stale Relationship

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It's one thing to feel comfortable in your relationship, and something else entirely to get so comfortable it begins to have negative side effects. Feeling as if you can predict everything, for instance, is a sure sign you and your partner need to break from routine. And maybe even make the extra effort to have more fun.

Keep in mind, though, that "feeling comfortable in a relationship is not a bad thing in itself," Courtney Minarsky, LCSW, a private practice therapist with a specialty in couples and relationships, tells Bustle. "The goal of a healthy relationship is to feel secure." And part of that means there will be some predictability.

It's fine to have nights in, and to fall into a comfy routine where you live your lives, and enjoy each other's company. That said, "the problem arises when people get so comfortable that they start to take each other and the relationship for granted," Minarsky says. "Despite the sayings that relationships should just be easy or that they shouldn’t feel like work, there should always be effort to pay attention to each other the way you did in the beginning of the relationship, and to make each other feel special, loved, and desired."

Those are the basics. But you should also intentionally shake things up from time to time. "By changing up a stale routine," Minarsky says, "you are letting each other know that this relationship matters." Read on for more ways to break from routine and have fun together, according to experts.


Talk It Out


First things first, "if your relationship has become too comfortable, start by having an open dialogue with your partner about how you are feeling," Minarsky says. You might find that they've noticed the rut as well, and will appreciate having a chance to talk about it.

Just make sure you don't blame each other, or turn it into an argument. "Mutual responsibility for making changes is key as it would be unfair for one person to carry the weight of shifting the relationship to a more exciting place alone," she says. "You both contributed to getting here so it is therefore both of your jobs to go somewhere new."

Talk about the reasons why you got where you are, and ways you might be able to turn things around.


Pay More Attention To Each Other

One way to get out of your routine is by planning more alone time, and truly focusing on each other. It can be as simple as going to dinner, taking a long walk, or shopping for groceries and then cooking. It can be anything you like, really, as long as your attention is on each other and not other things, such as work or social media, Minarsky says.

"During these designated times, you should put your laptops and phones away," she says. Instead, use it to catch up, to listen to each other, or to simply tune out from your busy day, and enjoy each other's company.


Switch Up Your Date Nights


While paying attention to each other during everyday moments is important, actually having more fun will be, too. And one way to do that is by surprising each other on date night.

"Think about your partner’s interests, passions, or passing comments they have made about a place they wanted to go, play they wanted to see, a restaurant they wanted to try," Minarsky says. "Show them that you have been paying attention to these details by planning an experience that they will appreciate."

Not only will you have a good time stepping out and trying something new, but you'll seriously impress each other by showing you were listening, which can make the whole thing feel extra special.


Be Spontaneous

"Have you ever thought, 'I’d like to just get in the car and drive'? Well now’s your chance," Dr. Annie Hsueh, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. Tell your partner it's all in the name of breaking from routine, and then see where the road takes you.

"At worst, you burn some gas that’ll need refilling later; at best, you’ve explored a new area of town or at the very least, had some nice car-chat time," Hsueh says. Something like this might be just what your relationship needs, if it's gotten too comfortable.


Volunteer Together


If your lives have been jam-packed with work and monotony, consider volunteering as a way to try something new. "Lots of volunteer programs have hours during weekends and flexible time slots," Hsueh says. "Serving in a soup kitchen is not only a great bonding experience, but also allows for you two to serve the community together."

Other ideas include picking up garbage, or walking dogs at your local shelter. It can be refreshing, it's definitely helpful, and it'll provide you with plenty of new things to talk about.


Share A Few Fantasies

"If sex is an area that you feel has become too routine, try creating sexual menus where each of you writes down three to five things they would like to try in the bedroom and then share them with each other," Minarsky says.

This might include new positions, breaking from routine and having sex at a different time — whatever you think might be fun. Just don't feel like you have to go overboard, in order to spice things up, or do anything you're uncomfortable with.

"Be respectful of one another if either of you does not want to partake in something on the other person’s list," Minarsky says. "Even if only one thing on each list is mutually agreed upon, that gives you two new things to experiment with together."


Go On A Double Date


"Getting ideas about what other couples do is also a nice way to break your routine," Hsueh says, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by going on a double date. "You can reconnect with long-time friends," she says. "Or, if you want to meet new people, joining a social group together is a surefire way to bring some zest into your life." Talk about it first, and figure out what sounds like the most fun.


Spend Time Apart

Sometimes, it can feel as if you're stuck in a rut simply because you're spending too much time together. So don't be afraid to part ways for an evening, or a weekend, and do your own thing.

You might even think about the hobbies you had before your relationship, and bring a few back. "If you feel you've lost touch with those, start by brainstorming a list of 30 things you used to love or have always wanted to try, and see what items you could try in the next month," Lauren Korshak, MA, MF, a therapist and dating and relationship coach, tells Bustle.

Spending time apart means gaining a new appreciation for each other, and coming back together with fresh eyes. And as for focusing on yourself, that's always a good thing — for you and your relationship.


Do Something Slightly Scary


To get out of a rut, it can help to do something exciting, exhilarating, or even slightly scary together. Think white water rafting, zip lining, riding a rollercoaster, or even watching a tense movie.

"Doing things that create a 'rush' and release adrenaline help you feel closer," Korshak says. "Plus, when we try new things, we act in new ways and get to see new parts of ourselves and our partners."

And that is, of course, the main goal. You can certainly enjoy your comfort and your routine. But if it's gotten a little too comfortable, make an effort to have fun in order to see other in a different light, and bring some excitement back to your relationship.

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