Tips on growing a happy and exciting romantic relationship
When you first start dating things are new and exciting. Part of the fun of dating someone is leaving your comfort zone and figuring out how your lives fit together. Then after a while you find your groove, and your relationship begins to shift from well dressed Saturday night dates to sweat pants and pizza at your place. You realize that this is someone who you can be yourself around and you settle into this new rhythm with your partner.
As time passes, the honeymoon phase slowly comes to an end and your partner is becoming a consistent part of your life. This is a crucial time in relationships because this is usually when one of two things happen; 1. the excitement and romance starts to fizzle out and you settle into the roles you both have chosen in your relationship or 2. you make conscious choices to continue lighting that flame and begin to find new and interesting ways to shake things up.
I’m a firm believer that no relationship should ever become “comfortable”. What I mean is that we as individuals should constantly be growing and changing with our partners. When we become comfortable in a relationship a lot of the time we become complacent. We forget to leave our comfort zones and we begin to take our partners for granted. By continuing to grow and develop our relationships we not only have the opportunity to remind ourselves why we fell in love with them, but we get to show them why they fell in love with us. It’s a win win situation.
So how do you keep from becoming too comfortable?
Never Leave The Honeymoon Phase
Remember when things were full of passion and excitement? Keep that same energy! Every day with your partner should feel like the first date. Now I know this may seem unrealistic, especially when you factor in work, friends/family, and life in general. The key is to value the time you spend with your partner the same way you did when things were fresh and new.
Put your phone away and devote your entire attention to them from time to time. Focus on actively listening when they speak. Show your partner that you are just as interested as you were when you first met them. When we become comfortable in a relationship we tend to forget how impactful those little gestures can be. Because we see them so often we no longer worry about being on our phones. We forget to pay attention to their love language and fail to show them the kind of affection they need.
The honeymoon phase was so great because you were in the process of falling in love. You were getting to know them and allowing them to know you just as intimately. They were constantly on your mind and just the thought of them brought a smile to your face. You were actively courting one another, devoting time and energy into showing each other that you care. Remaining in the honeymoon phase means continuing to fall in love. It means not imagining love as a quantifiable resource, rather a garden that you continue to cultivate over time. Don’t think of it as “Now I’ve got them,” but instead think “How do I keep them?”.
Never Stop Dating
Can you pinpoint when you went from ‘dating’ to ‘in a relationship’? What did that look like? For most, it was a simple transition from going on physical dates to staying home, meal prepping, and hanging out after work. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with staying home and meal prepping. Relationships are about sharing your everyday life and that’s definitely part of it. But there has to be a balance.
It’s when we settle too far into that routine that the magic starts to fade. When we’re no longer dating we are no longer putting in the effort involved in going on a date. That means not worrying about getting dressed up, not having deep conversations to get to know each other, not dedicating time to focus on why you came together in the first place. Set one or two nights a part to be your designated date night. This will be the night you get dressed up and go out together. It may be to a beach, a park, a romantic dinner, or a concert. You may even want to do a little role play where you pretend that it’s your first date again. It may seem corny, but I guarantee you’ll be laughing and chatting it up like you did on your first date.
Date night is not just an excuse to get dressed up and spend money. It’s the thought behind it that makes it special. Remember your first few dates? The effort you put into looking good. The excitement of a new adventure with your partner. The fire you felt when you were together just enjoying each other’s company. Whether you’re one year into it or 10 years strong, that feeling should never leave your relationship.
Mix It Up
Romantic relationships can be a beautiful thing, but it does take work. Earlier I told you to imagine your love as a garden that you have to tend and care for overtime in order to see growth. If the soil in a garden has become hard and dry, it can be difficult for plants to grow and thrive. In order to keep your plants thriving and growing back each year you have to turn the old soil, and add new soil that is rich in nutrients. This same process can be applied to relationships. No, you should never leave the honeymoon phase. And yes, you should continue going on dates and dating. But you have to mix it up!
Doing the same things, even things that you know your partner likes, can get old after a while. You have to continue to come up with interesting ways of showing the person you love that you are still present in your relationship, and that your feelings are just as strong. If your partner’s love language is gifts, surprise them with flowers or their favorite snacks every now and again. It doesn’t always have to be a deep and meaningful gift. If you usually go out to dinner for date night, surprise them with a cooking class or find a cool themed restaurant like a speakeasy.
It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it does have to come from a place of love and caring. Showing your partner that you’re still present is everything. It is so easy to commit to the first two steps, then get caught in another routine of showing love the same way for months or years at a time. It gets old. We have to remember to never get comfortable, even when it seems like we’re doing everything right. We should always be evaluating and reevaluating our behaviors and challenging ourselves to continue stepping out of our comfort zones.
The healthiest relationships are the ones where we continue to grow both as individuals and as a team. I’m not an expert, but I try my best to learn from each relationship. With each broken heart I’ve learned to look inwardly at my own behaviors and reflect on the relationship as a whole. The common denominators that I found were not IF we loved, but HOW we loved. The thing I discovered was that those relationships had become complacent, stale even. So now moving forward in my new relationship, I have learned to always be present and to give just as much time and energy to my partner as I did in the beginning. Because of this each new milestone comes as a surprise to me. I’m constantly shocked by how much time has passed because it always feels as if we’ve just started dating.
That is the beauty of an active and healthy relationship. You never leave the honeymoon phase, date nights always feel new, and you’re always finding new ways to shake things up. Follow these tips for a happy and healthy relationship. And feel free to share your own tips below in the comments!