3 Tips for Keeping a Relationship Alive
Written by a sex and relationship therapist
Great relationships don't just happen - we need to work on keeping them fresh. If you're on the hunt for tips for keeping a relationship alive, look no further. By using the 3-step process outlined in this article, you'll be well on your way to more intimacy and excitement.
1. Work out what you want
In order to create change and keep things interesting - you need to know what you want to to make more exciting.
For example, do you want to feel more attracted to your partner? Do you want to have sex more often? Or do you want to feel the excitement you used to feel when talking to each other?
By asking yourself what you want to keep alive specifically - you'll be able to get there faster. This is the only way you can truly reach your desired goal of keeping a relationship alive.
Write down any and all things you feel like want that would help make your relationship more exciting. Be as specific as possible.
2. Ask yourself why you want it
Sometimes the things we want we don't actually want - we want them because society tells us we should want them.
If we don't know why we want the things we want, we risk doing things that don't actually make us happier - but unhappier, instead.
For example, sometimes we want to have more sex because we believe this is what sets romantic relationships apart from friendships. And sometimes, this is the case.
As a sexologist I can certainly attest to the immense value that good sex gives to a relationship. In fact, sex is a great way to also reduce stress, increase productivity and get closer (you can read more on this in my blog post: how does sex affect emotions).
However, you don't have to have sex to have a good relationship.
And sex doesn't necessarily equal more intimacy anyway.
By approaching more sex as a goal you might instead create pressure - driving you further away from more sex.
Sex really is only one way of creating intimacy - there are lots of other ways to creating a fulfilling and fun relationship that don't center around sex.
According to researcher Stephen T. Fife there are 17 aspects of intimacy. Among them are financial intimacy; sharing a joint budget and creating shared goals, forgiveness intimacy: apologising and asking each other for forgiveness, and aesthetic intimacy: sharing your love for beautiful things in the world like dance, art and music.
3. Work out how to get there
When you know what you want and have figured out why and if you indeed should pursue it - the next step is creating an action plan. It doesn't have to be complicated or boring - but it does have to exist, otherwise it'll be difficult to get there!
Tips for keeping a relationship alive if you want more sex
- Initiate a conversation with your partner about it. Try focusing on the positives, not the negatives. This can be done by letting your partner why sex is important to you, as opposed to telling them you think you have too little sex. You can find more tips in this blog post on communication in relationships and how to talk about sex.
- Reminisce about a sexual memory with your partner. This is a good way of sparking sexual desire. When you and your partner talk about good sex you've had in the past, you're sending a message to your brain about sex being a good idea - and the more your brain is onboard, the greater the chance of your sex drive kicking in. Remember, your brain is your largest sexual organ, so treat it as such.
Tips for keeping a relationship alive If you want more sizzling conversation
- Swap out your usual questions for some new ones. If you've been together for a while you likely have a few things you ask one another each day, like: how was your day? Or, what do you want to watch on Netflix? Swap these for things like: what was the best part of your day? Or, What's your favourite movie?
- Experience something new together. Sparking conversation isn't just about the things you say - it's also about the things you do. A good way of making your conversations more interesting is by sharing a new experience. This could be as simple as cooking dinner together, if you've never done it before. Or perhaps downloading a language app and learning a few French phrases together. This is a good way of creating more to talk about and new things to discuss.
Tips for keeping a relationship alive if you want more general intimacy
- Try an intimacy-building exercise. Sometimes it's difficult to think of new ways of creating intimacy. If you want to feel closer - one way is trying the "36 Questions". They were created to get you talking about the important things in life, like emotions, values, and sex.
- Engage in non-sexual touch. Physical contact can easily fall by the wayside if you've been together for a while. In fact, sometimes we only ever touch the other when we want to initiate sex. But physical intimacy is a great way of keeping things alive, even when it doesn't lead to sexual intimacy. Set aside 5 minutes per day and touch each other with the explicit intention that it won't lead to sex. This will release oxytocin, the hormone responsible for bonding and feeling loved-up.
There are lots of things that keep relationships exciting and fulfilling: sex, physical intimacy, and great conversation are a few. By using the 3-step action plan above, you can forgo random tips for keeping a relationship alive - and work on things you actually want to see a change in. Good luck!
Leigh Norén is a sex therapist with a Master of Science in Sexology. She helps people reduce stress, shame, & anxiety surrounding sex-so they can get their sex drive back and enjoy their partner again. If you want to increase your desire, download her free resource The Desire Test.
Originally published at Therapy by Leigh.