After you've been with your partner for a while, it can sometimes feel like you've talked about everything. You've told your stories, you've shared your dreams, and you've muttered a few words about what you'd like to eat for dinner. Now, you feel like you have nothing creative, interesting, or important left to say. What do you do next?
This can certainly be a turning point in a long-term relationship, but there is no need to panic — especially since the more you worry about coming up with something new to say, the worse it'll feel. "Stop trying to talk about 'new' things," Dr. Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. "The mental strain of trying to think of something new can easily take over the vibe of the conversation." It's totally OK to let things come up naturally, to chat about the news, or to simply sit quietly and enjoy each other's company.
It's also OK to talk about the same thing more than once. "If you have been with your partner for awhile then you can absolutely revisit old topics," Klapow says. "The topics may not change, but your perspectives, your understanding of them, and how you see them as individuals and as a couple will."
With that in mind, read on for a few fun ways to strike up a conversation, even if it feels like you've already talked about everything.
1. Get Into A Debate
If it feels like your conversations are flagging, or like you've already talked about everything under the sun, it can help to stir up a healthy debate. "Find a provocative quotation and discuss your separate interpretations," Dr. Marlene Caroselli, an author and speaker, tells Bustle. If you both agree, cool. But if you don't, it can turn into a battle of the wits, and might even teach you something new about each other.
2. Ask About Their Day
This is a conversation you can have every single day. So if you aren't already in the habit, consider sharing your highs and lows after you've spent time apart. How was work? What went well? What didn't?
Not only will you learn more about each other, you'll likely feel closer after having these chats. As Christie Tcharkhoutian, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist says, this simple discussion provides time to talk about your "wins and losses," which deepens your connection, and ultimately helps you weather life's ups and downs as a couple.
3. Make Plans For The Future
When was the last time you checked in with each other about your future? If it's been a minute, talk about what you'd like to do in the next five years, where you'd like to travel, where you see your careers going, and so on.
"It’s fun to dream and get excited about your [...] hopes, wishes, and desires," Tcharkhoutian says. "It also can help bring you outside of the daily routine and rut."
4. Talk About The Past
On the flip side, it can be incredibly eye-opening to tell each other stories from your past. I'm sure you've covered the basics, but try to delve deeper by sharing childhood secrets, or telling old family stories. As Tcharkhoutian says, "Sharing of childhood memories and funny family stories can [...] help connect you to each other."
5. Play The Question Game
Have you ever played the question game? It's simple, since all it involves is (you guessed it!) asking each other questions. There is, however, a twist or two, Dan Munro, a confidence and relationship coach, tells Bustle. "First, you must ask deep and dark questions — try to get the real secrets out of someone," he says. "Second, you must answer as honestly as possible. It's like truth or dare... without the dare part."
6. Tell Each Other Exactly How You Feel
While it's always OK to keep a few secrets to yourself, or to pick and choose what you reveal to each other (and when), pay attention to that nagging feeling that you've "run out of things to talk about," as that may be a sign you aren't being 100 percent open with each other.
"If you're bored in your relationship, I bet my life savings you aren't sharing everything you feel," Munro says. So go ahead and get real with each other. How do you feel, right this minute? What would you like to work on in your relationship? The more honest and open you are, the better your relationship will feel.
7. Share Random Thoughts
In the same vein, consider sharing "random" thoughts and emotions, even if they don't seem conversation-worthy. As Munro says, the "noise inside your head" can be quite interesting. And since it's always changing, you technically can't run out of things to say.
Of course, this doesn't mean blurting out hurtful things, or talking just for the sake of talking. Instead, it's about pulling inspiration from your inner dialogue — your daydreams, thoughts, concerns, etc. Bring it all to the surface, and see where the conversation leads.
8. Talk About Physical Intimacy
This is a topic you should be chatting about regularly, to make sure you're both happy and on the same page. But it's also fun to share your fantasies, especially if you've never talked about them before.
Are you both fulfilled? Do you want to try something new? It may feel awkward at first, but questions like these can spark a convo (and a healthy one, at that!) that you've probably never had before.
9. Ask Them What They'd Change
If your partner could change one thing from their past, what would it be? What would they do differently, if they could go back in time?
"These questions let you know more about your partner, what they may regret, what inspires them, and what brings them happiness," Kimberly Hershenson, LCSW, a licensed therapist in New York City, tells Bustle
As a bonus, it can help you make better decisions as a couple going forward. By knowing what your partner regrets, you can work together as a couple to ensure history doesn't repeat itself.
10. Chat About A New Hobby
If it feels like you've run out of things to talk about, chances are you've both fallen into a predictable routine. Life can certainly feel monotonous when you're following the same schedule day in and day out. So make a point of shaking things up.
"Find a new hobby to enjoy together," Stef Safran, a relationship expert, tells Bustle. "Cooking, working out — something you can do together." Or, strike out on your own for an evening. Part ways and visit friends, try a solo hobby, or simply spend some time alone. When you meet up again, you'll both have plenty to discuss.
11. Talk About Regrets
Another way to learn more about each other's pasts is by chatting about regrets. "This is a 'deep' question not suited for lighthearted moments," Jonathan Bennett, a relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "But, a person’s greatest regret in life can reveal a lot about them."
If the mood feels right, opening up about old mistakes or missed opportunities can open the door to brand new discussions. "It can also be a way to be vulnerable with each other," Bennett says.
12. Learn More About What Influences Them
Ask about heroes, or people or things that influence your partner, including family members, favorite authors, political figures, etc. "This question can help you learn a lot more about your partner and the people who shaped their life," Bennett says. "You might gain a greater understanding of your partner’s values and choices."
13. Ask About Their Ideal Career
It's easy to fall into a certain career field for the paycheck, or to get stuck doing the same thing out of convenience. But what would your partner do if money was no object?
"Most people rarely pursue their dream job," Bennett says. "Your partner might have a dream career that you never knew about, like musician, professional athlete, or dancer."
Learning more will help you see each other with fresh eyes, so open up and share. You can even consider ways to support each other in taking steps towards a more ideal job. If either of you feels stuck, going back to school, or making a career change, may be just what you need.
14. Make Each Other Laugh
Another way to break out of a conversation rut is by sharing funny stories, Risa Williams, LMFT, a therapist and life coach, tells Bustle, including hilarious things that happened way back in childhood.
"Some of the most interesting stories I hear from people are about the city they grew up in, what they liked to do there, what neighborhoods they liked to explore and what places they connect with symbolically," she says. "All this tells us a lot about a person's personality, history and perspective, and I think it can be interesting to explore these ideas with your partner, and it also gives us a chance to be storytellers with each other, which can be fun."
15. Choose A Conversation Starter
When in doubt, you can always turn to the trusty internet for some couple-y questions, as a way of finding new things to talk about, Sarit Fassazadeh, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle.
"Maybe pick a question or two a day," she says, "and really explore them together. Add it to your schedule! There is always more to learn about a person, it's just finding the right questions to ask."
16. Play A Thought-Provoking Game
There's nothing quite like a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit — or another thought-provoking game — to get you laughing and talking. "These types of bizarre and random questions can spur new and stimulating conversation," Ashley L. Annestedt, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, tells Bustle, while also helping you step out of a staid routine.
17. Learn To Be OK With Silence
All of that said, don't feel pressured to talk 24/7, if you (or your partner) don't want to. "Oftentimes we feel we must fill all of our space with entertaining chatter," Stacey Greene, relationship expert and author of Stronger Than Broken, tells Bustle. "Truly, once in a while it feels great to just stare, gaze, smile, cuddle, hold hands, etc." So if that's what's happening, go with the flow.
There will be moments of silence in your relationship, as well as moments of great conversation, and deeper discussions. Find a balance between the three, don't force it, and chances are you'll never run out of things to say.
Dr. Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist
Dr. Marlene Caroselli, author and speaker
Christie Tcharkhoutian, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist
Dan Munro, confidence and relationship coach
Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, licensed therapist in NYC
Stef Safran, relationship expert
Risa Williams, LMFT, therapist and life coach
Sarit Fassazadeh, LCSW, licensed clinical social worker
Ashley L. Annestedt, LCSW, licensed clinical social worker