What To Do When You're Bored In A Relationship, According To Experts
As much as many of us would like to believe otherwise, healthy long-term relationships require work. And one great reminder that love takes effort is when you're feeling bored in your relationship. After all, if you're not willing to get a little creative, how else are you supposed to get out of a rut?
In a recent Bustle survey of 427 women, ages 18 to 35, 43 percent of those in relationships said they sometimes feel bored in their relationship, so you're definitely not alone if you've ever felt this way. Only three percent of participants said it was extremely likely they'd breakup over feeling bored, so ruts are not an automatic death sentence to your relationship. But they are a sign it's time to make a change.
It's only when things don't change that boredom becomes a bigger relationship issue. According to the survey, 56 percent of those in relationships believe if things didn’t seem like they were improving, they'd end it. So, it's really all about taking actions to get out of boredom. The good news is, there are so many things you can do to freshen up your relationship, and they don't have to be grand gestures. But before you start to make any changes, it's important to think about why you may be feeling tired of the relationship in the first place.
"Are you each so busy leading your private lives that you have no time for each other and have drifted apart, or do you spend too much time together?" Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "Spending time together is essential for a healthy relationship, but it is also just as important for couples to have their separate ‘me’ time. When partners can each lead separate lives outside of their relationship, whether this is with their career, job, social circle, or personal hobbies and passions that they’re pursuing, they are less likely to get bored of each other. Couples who aren’t satisfied with their personal lives may have unrealistic expectations of what they would like to get out of their relationship, leading to boredom and disappointment when the relationship does not satisfy all their personal needs. For some couples, their separate careers or jobs are enough to offer them personal fulfillment, but for other couples, especially if they are in the same career or one partner isn’t working, they may need something more."
Once you identify the source of boredom, it's time to figure out a way to switch things up that makes sense for you as a couple. And as you'll see below, a lot of these small changes involve breaking out of your everyday routine. "It's easy to get stuck in same old same old, but that can drain your energy and even reduce your interest in your partner," Jill Whitney, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "The best way to reduce boredom in a relationship is to add novelty. Anything new that shifts your routine or helps you see your partner in a new light can liven things up."
Here are 21 small changes to make to your relationship when you're feeling bored, according to experts.
1. Pursue A Passion — Alone
If you've been spending too much time together, it may be best to make a personal change.
"If you are bored with your relationship, make a change to your personal life and watch how it affects your relationship," Backe says. "Pursue a personal passion or hobby that you always wanted to do. Yes, the one that you always spoke about, but were just waiting for your partner to come around and join you. Don’t wait any longer; go on and do it alone. When you begin to feel satisfaction in your personal life, you will notice your relationship expectations being lowered, making you appreciate what you are gaining from your relationship more, keeping it alive."
2. Make An Effort To Welcome Them Home
Getting out of your relationship boredom can be as simple as developing a new routine that shows you care, like greeting your partner when they come home each day. "Be there to greet them right at the front door when they come home from work," Coach Andi LaBrune, relationship expert and mentor, tells Bustle.
3. Give Each Other 10 Things You Both Really Want
Stef Safran, owner of Chicago-based matchmaking service Stef and the City, suggests asking your partner what they really want, whether it's more romance or no chores, and spend a week giving it to them through 10 little actions. "Maybe you want more romance: Put love notes in their pockets... Take a bath together. Give your partner a massage. Give them a real kiss before you leave and before you go to bed. Maybe you want less chaos when you get home: Have dinner ready when they get home. Have someone professionally clean the house. Take care of walking the dog all week. Maybe they want the chores to be done: Bring home a great dessert. Pick up the groceries and dry cleaning. Get someone to watch the kids," Safran tells Bustle. Then, they can do 10 things for you the following week.
Not only is this thoughtful and fun, but it makes you excited to see one another, she says.
4. Point Out What You Appreciate About Them
One super easy and effective way to improve your connection is by telling your partner something about them that you're grateful for. "Each day, notice something about the other person you really appreciate, but don’t necessarily say out loud," LaBrune says. “'I like your shirt, it makes you look ….'; 'I appreciate dinner tonight, thank you.'; 'I know you love enjoying wine, let’s go to [a local winery].'"
5. Take Turns Planning A Surprise Date
LaBrune says bringing your partner on a "blind date" — where your partner doesn't know where you're going — is one easy way to both impress them and break out of your usual routine.
Or, taking turns planning surprise date nights where you do things you've never done before is another way to bond. "I’ve seen couples try anything from going to a new restaurant, getting their tarot cards read, a game of bocce ball, or even an appointment at a sensory deprivation tank," Allison Gervais, licensed psychotherapist, tells Bustle. "New shared experiences kick in those endorphins, feed our curiosity, and foster conversation and laughter." And who doesn't want that?
6. Do One Thing Off Your Partner's To-Do List
An easy way to show your partner appreciation and try something new is by doing an act of service for them. "Take a task off their to-do list for them," LaBrune says. "This works really well for someone who seems to always be frustrated with not getting stuff done during the day. Try your hand at dinner if they’re cooking for the night, for example."
7. Exchange Lists Of What You Like About Your Partner & The Relationship
If you've gotten so used to each other that you've stopped showing appreciation, it may be time for an exercise that shows how grateful you are for each other. "I find that the number one thing a couple can do to liven up their relationship is to be grateful," Karina Wallace, relationship and betrayal trauma-focused life coach, tells Bustle. "I have them list over a week everything they can think of that they like about their partner, their lives together, and any good quality related to the relationship. They write everything the person did that week that they appreciated or made them feel loved. Then [they] give it to each other after the week. As they are looking for things to write they will each notice more what the other person does for them, and also they will usually do more than they have in a while."
Receiving the list will encourage each partner to try to do what their partner likes. "This usually impacts the entire relationship and can be done over and over whenever they start slipping back into old habits," Wallace says.
8. Send A Flirty Text
To break out of boredom, take cues from the beginning of your relationship. "Send text messages or emails like you did at the start of the relationship," Dr. Nikki Goldstein, sexologist, relationship expert, and author of Single But Dating, tells Bustle. "It's one of those things that [tends] to go early on... It's sometimes those little things that really make all the difference and remind you of why you got together in the first place."
A small, flirty note can go a long way. "It's these little things that can then have a flow-on effect into other areas of the relationship, encouraging you both to continue to make the effort instead of letting things run dry," Goldstein says.
9. Focus On What's Going *Well* In The Relationship
You may be inclined to think of everything that's going wrong in your relationship when you're in a rut — but it's time to flip your perspective. "By focusing on what’s going right in our relationship, rather than wrong, positive psychology research suggests we can build a stronger bond," Suzie Pileggi Pawelski, MAPP, and James O. Pawelski, PhD, husband and wife and co-authors of Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts, tell Bustle. "One way to do that is by identifying our strengths and those of our partners and focusing on nurturing them, rather than dwelling on small annoyances in our relationship."
You can come up with the strengths yourself, or as the couple recommends, you can take a free survey to find out your top five strongest qualities. "Once you’ve identified your strengths, begin having strengths conversations with your partner sharing what it feels like to have a specific strength," the couple says. "Share stories of you at your best when you used one of your top strengths. This exercise helps us to truly get to know and understand our partner on a deeper level. And using our strengths on a daily basis is associated with greater individual and relational well-being."
10. Do A New Activity Together
If you just haven't been connecting lately, trying a new activity or hobby together could bring the spark back in no time. "One of the best things a couple can do is engage in a new activity or hobby," Lesli Doares, marriage coach, relationship expert, and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After with More Intention, Less Work, tells Bustle. "Doing something new together releases the same neurotransmitters that are crucial to falling in love. Novelty can rekindle those feelings."
11. Stop Assuming You Know How Your Partner Will Respond
Mallika Bush, a licensed marriage and family therapist who works with couples in therapy, says when your relationship is feeling tiresome, it's time to stop thinking that you know how your partner will respond. "We can often get into patterns with partners where we think we know exactly what they will say or do in response to us," Bush tells Bustle. "We then stop taking actions because we think we know the outcome. I encourage clients to ask anyway and pay attention to exactly how your partner does respond. It might be different than you expect."
12. Take A Class Together
One easy way to spend time together and try something new? Take a class. "Is there anything listed that interests both of you, even a little? Get your creative juices flowing with an art or pottery class; pump up your workout with something totally different; or get your mind in gear by learning a new language or skill," Whitney says. "You may find a new passion. But even if you don't, the two of you will have had new experiences together, which will revitalize your relationship."
13. Go Dancing
When was the last time you and your partner danced? It's a simple and fun way to feel more connected to each other when things are feeling boring. "Especially if you're in an established relationship, you may not get out on the dance floor very often," Whitney says. "But it's fun to move your body and tune into your partner's moves. Dancing gets you out of your head and into your body, which is refreshing — and often sexy. If you learn partner dancing like swing, salsa, or ballroom, you'll also learn to pay attention to your partner's subtle signals, which gets you focused and connected."
14. Create A Connection Ritual
If dancing or classes aren't your thing, there are plenty of ways to connect with your partner that you can easily work into your day. "Make a plan for how the two of you can connect physically and emotionally every day," Whitney says. "Maybe set the alarm for five minutes earlier so you can cuddle before starting the day. Or greet each other with a huge long hug in the evening. Or turn off all devices over dinner and for the last hour before bed. Your personal ritual can be anything that says 'our relationship is important.'"
15. Surprise Your Partner By Doing Their Favorite Activity With Them
Want to surprise your partner with something extra special? Treat them while also supporting them. "One thing I suggest to my clients when they are feeling hum-drum about their relationship is to set up a surprise for their partner that is all about the partner," Kac Young PhD, ND DCH, author of 21 Days to the Love of Your Life, tells Bustle.
Whether they enjoy tennis, yoga, or the opera, set a day to treat them to their favorite activity and do it with them. "Often times we go our separate ways when it comes to activities and hobbies and there is nothing more romantic and caring than showing up with a big smile and a big bag of support," Young says. "Plus, you might have a great time, and this could be the start of something new and fun to bring you together and break the rut."
16. Create A Fantasy Bucket List
When you're feeling bored with your life in general, making a bucket list is the perfect exercise to get excited about your goals and the future, so why not use bucket lists for your relationship too? "Create a fantasy bucket list of things you want to try with your partner," Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW, therapist, tells Bustle. "Make it a point to cross some things off the list at least twice a month. Be open to your partner’s suggestions and talk about it afterwards."
17. Take A Vacation Together
If you haven't been connecting or spending enough quality time together, taking a trip together can get you back on track — even if it's a last-minute getaway for the weekend. "It doesn’t have to be elaborate and it can be as simple as taking a long weekend trip together just the two of you," Powell says.
Doares agrees. "Experiencing a new location and time to relax together with none of the daily grind can help you feel more connected," she says.
18. Start A Project Together
If you want to go beyond trying a new activity together, Ken Blackman, sex and relationship coach, says that starting a passion project together is a wonderful way to bond. "Doing something together, whether it be a new hobby, or taking on a cause, or even launching a small side business together, can be a very bonding, reviving experience," Blackman tells Bustle. "It needn’t be about [your relationship] in order to benefit [your relationship]! Any shared passion project will do."
19. Send A Thoughtful Text
If flirty texts or sexts aren't your thing, try texting your partner something that has some emotional resonance, Whitney says, whether it's a joke you just heard that you know they'll find funny or an "I love you" text, just because.
"A meaningful text will make your partner feel cared about," Whitney says. "Plus, thinking about what you want to say will remind you of the good things in your relationship you may have been taking for granted."
20. Recreate Your First Date
“One tip I would give every single couple is to relive their first date,” custom vow writer Alexis Dent tells Bustle. “It will bring back all of the great memories and help remind the couple of all the reasons that they fell in love in the first place.” Not only is this something you probably don't do often, but there's also a nostalgia element to this activity that'll help you re-connect.
21. Do Something That Scares You
Another way to introduce something new into your relationship is to do something that gives you an adrenaline rush. “Do something together that has an element of fear, like riding a rollercoaster, that is a little out of your comfort zone,” licensed marriage therapist Amy McManus tells Bustle. “The zones of your brain that are activated when you are afraid are the same as the ones that are activated when you fall in love, so this can give you a mini-jumpstart for your relationship."
Licensed marriage therapist Winifred Reilly says to remember this quote: "Do one thing every day that scares you." "There’s nothing like a little adrenaline to push boredom out of the way," Reilly tells Bustle. "You know that thing you’ve been wanting to try in bed? Now’s the time. Afraid to ask? Ask anyway.”
As long as you're not complacent with relationship boredom, experiencing a rut doesn't mean you're doomed. Whether it's making a point to text your partner something meaningful or planning a surprise date you know they'll love, putting effort into trying something new has the power to bring you closer and revive your relationship. Oftentimes, relationship boredom simply gives us the chance to get to know our partners on a deeper level and grow together. And that's definitely a chance worth taking.