Life happens and sometimes we lose ourselves in it. Days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months. We get caught up in our routines, and forget to take charge and make each and every day feel special. And when we’re in a long-term relationship, that may mean we forget to make our partners feel special. Or we stop feeling special ourselves. It’s nobody’s fault—it’s just the product of time, predictability and patterns. In some ways, it’s a relief not to deal with the dizzying, obsessive, stomach-churning emotions that accompany the beginning of a relationship. At some point, our bodies and our minds have to let go of questions like, “Should I text back now?” and “Will my heart explode if I don’t see this person in the next 24 hours?” But, sometimes, after those questions simmer down, so does the stone-cold passion.
Don’t freak out: You can get it back. The trick is to remember those weirdly creative, deeply invested impulses you had when you first started dating, and reintroduce them into your relationship now. In short, if your long-term relationship feels, well, long, take some cues from the early days of your romance. Here’s how:
Send morning text messages
Remember, back before you spent every night together, how you’d swap texts in the morning? You would wake up to an awesome little smiley-faced emoji paired with “Good morning!” or “How’d you sleep?” Just because you can roll over and ask the same question now, doesn’t mean you should stop sending morning reminders that you’re thinking of the other person. It’s amazing how much a sweet text can kick-start our day, make us feel loved, and carry us through a stressful afternoon of work. There’s a romantic mystery to texts—they’re modern-day love notes, and reminders that you’re somebody’s somebody. And that’s nothing to take for granted.
Touch them when you’re talking to them
In the beginning of a relationship, we all do that thing where we touch the other person, mid-conversation. Sometimes we do it consciously, to break a certain physical boundary. Other times, we just can’t help it. When you’re in an LTR, those boundaries are already broken, so we forget about the awesome physical sensation of touching the other person. But it is awesome, and a little squeeze mid-talk goes a long way. Step 2? Get your cuddle on. It’s one of best perks of being in a relationship. Holding each other, hugging and snuggling will keep you and your partner connected. It’s vital to remain emotionally close to each other, but also physically close as well. Besides, it just feels good.
Two words: “Thank you”
“Can you wash the dishes?” or, “Can you pick up my laundry after work?” is what our conversations start sounding like when we’re in a long-term relationship. But sometimes we might forget the follow-up to those questions — “Thank you.” In the very beginning of a relationship, anything your love does is exciting and amazing. But as you two get more comfortable with one another, those things might start to become expected. So let’s remind ourselves to give a little “thanks” more often. It totally makes those “favors” we ask for—and are asked to do—more gratifying to accomplish.
Buy tickets for something, seriously, anything.
There’s quality time and then there’s quantity time. Quality time is a special night we don’t easily forget, and quantity time is trying to keep our eyes open as we watch Netflix on the couch. Hey, after a 40-hour work week, or endless finals and papers, we can’t always devote time to planning a night out. But in the beginning of a relationship, no matter what’s on our plate, we’ll make time for adventures. One of the reasons we have so many adventures in the beginning is because even when we were away from each other, we were scouring the Internet looking for cool concerts, shows and restaurants to take each other to. Basically, we’re always planning ahead. Long-termers, let’s bring that back. Buy tickets to a museum, a movie, a show, anything that forces you to get out of your nightly routine. This is how you make more memories. Netflix nights are awesome, but you’ve got to mix it up a little.
Let the little things go
You know when you like someone new so much, you’re willing to overlook that weird thing they said to the waiter, or the fact that they forgot their credit card at the restaurant? It’s funny, not annoying or “typical.” After being in a relationship for a while, your partner’s imperfect moments build up, along with some resentment. While some issues are serious enough to merit heavy conversations, arguments even, others are just not worth getting upset over. So whether it’s forgiving our boyfriend or girlfriend for something that was annoying in the past, or maybe it’s forgiving ourselves for something we regret — it’s crucial to let some things go.
Give with no strings attached
In the beginning of a relationship, we’re super tuned-in to the other person’s interests and needs. We have to restrain ourselves from buying them little gifts, or stocking the fridge with their favorite snack. Those shopaholic tendencies die down as a relationship progresses (to the relief of our bank accounts), and we also start feeling the pressure to buy more significant, logical, or practical gifts. But those may come with expectations, or baggage. You know what doesn’t come with baggage? That box of Lucky Charms your partner childishly eyes at the grocery store, or the smell of fresh-brewed coffee when they wake up. So, how about doing a couple of nice things a day for your loved one with no strings attached? While it’s important to think about your needs in a relationship, sometimes we can get caught up in what WE want, instead of thinking about what will make our significant other happy. If both people in a relationship think about putting the other one first, the outcome is straight-up sublime.