The small butterflies you get when you first start dating someone are very magical. However, after a period of dating, it can become more difficult to maintain the relationship. Of course, being together for a while has its advantages. You form a strong bond with your lover and feel at ease doing and saying anything around them. However, there is something to be claimed for the tingly sensation you get in the early stages of a relationship. Experts say there are some things you can do to keep that first spark going for a long time.
Even if neither of you is the same person you were at the start of your relationship, try to incorporate some of the early flirtation practices you used when you first met. This can bring up memories of those wonderful first dates. “Flirting keeps the love connection alive and helps prevent you from taking your partner or relationship for granted,” says Jillian Yuhas, MA, MFT, CPC, co-founder of Entwined Lifestyle and a licensed family and marriage therapist. “All relationships will have ups and downs,” she says, “but the greatest way to deepen the bond is to show your spouse how much you love them through beautiful, thoughtful gestures.”
Here are some pointers to keep the fire burning for years to come:
1. Invite Your Partner On A Date
In the early stages of your relationship, you probably looked forward to getting ready for each date with your partner. If you live together, make a point to meet them at the destination instead of just commuting together. This can recreate that excited feeling that you used to have. “Even if you’re just eating takeout food at home, improve the atmosphere with candles, china, and silverware,” Tessina says. “Serve your partner like a guest.” There’s a time and place for just eating frozen pizza together on the couch, but doing something extra fancy can feel so special.
2. 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.”
3. 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.
4. Play Together
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”. “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.
5. 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. 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.