Relationships are tricky. In the beginning it’s all fireworks, and even normal things like eating and sleeping can become a challenge amidst the raging hormones. After a while – the fire tends to fizzle, and it’s normal to start looking for ways to keep a relationship alive.

If you want to take your relationship from lack-luster to lustrous, you’re in the right place!

Just because things aren’t as exciting as they used to be, it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong or your relationship is doomed. By using the, slightly unconventional, tips outlined in this blog post, you’ll soon be well on your way to rekindling a bit of that magic!

Get That Heart Rate Going

One of the ways to keep a relationship alive is based on scientific research showing that attraction more easily occurs among strangers when they’re already physiologically aroused.

This doesn’t mean you need to be turned on for attraction to happen (I don’t think we need research to convince us of that one!).

It means both people need their bodies to be in an aroused state – hearts beating fast or adrenaline coursing through their veins.  

A prime example of this in action can be seen on multiple dating tv-shows. Getting the contestants to Bungy jump or go rock climbing together is a sure-fire way to elevate their heart levels – and thus increase the likelihood of attraction occurring.

“The interesting part about these findings is that the feeling of attraction is thought to have very little to do with attraction actually arising. ”

Researchers believe we feel attracted to the other person because we misattribute what our beating heart means. How we understand our bodies has a large effect on what and how we feel.

For example, for some, a faster heart rate could be understood as the onset of an anxiety attack, whereas for others, it could mean they’re sexually excited or – attracted to someone.

Now you know why attraction can occur when we’re physiologically aroused, you might be wondering how this nuget of information can be used in your long-term relationship.

“Some research on ways to keep a relationship alive, shows that couples who make plans together and then follow through on these plans, are happier and more content in their relationships. ”

This could perhaps be down to the commitment we show when we plan something together with our significant other.

When we prioritize our relationship and come up with ideas of things to do together, we reinforce the commitment we once pledged to each other, which can have a romance-boosting effect.

“By combining making plans, with activities that get that heart rate going, you’ll be engaging in practices that will help lift your relationship, build intimacy and increase attraction. ”

Examples of ways to combine the two are: 

  • Going to the gym together
  • Rock climbing
  • Watching a horror movie

Make Space For Alone Time With Yourself

When we think about ways to keep a relationship alive we usually end up honing in on ideas of how to spend more time together.

Let’s face it – with to-do lists galore and never-ending piles of laundry – most of us could probably do with a little more quality time together.  

However, if you want to keep things interesting in the long run, there’s another way to do this that most of us never even consider: time away from each other.

“By spending alone time, be it actually on your own or with your own friends, you’re likely to bring some of the spark back to your relationship (even if you’ve been together for 15, 20 or 25 years). ”

Esther Perel, a famous psychotherapist, often talks about the importance of cultivating your own identity within a twosome.

“She means that desire and attraction occur in the space between us. When we lose our own identity or completely enmesh with another, the space disappears and the flame is suffocated. ”

In order for attraction and desire to be sustained over time, we need to be individuals.

This is something Perel has seen time and again in her practice as a therapist and the same sentiment is echoed by others in the field. I, myself, have seen this among my clients too.

However, it’s all a balancing act, meaning that if you have absolutely no time together you’re probably better off spending the little time you do have – with one another.

If you do everything together or can’t remember the last time you were out and about without your partner – making space for alone time could a good idea.  

Examples of how to do this could be:

  • Going for a long walk
  • Hanging out with a friend
  • Practicing a hobbie

If you want to give this a go, it’s a good idea to first talk about it with your partner. If you don’t, chances are your partner might take your sudden urge to hang out without him/her as a sign that’s something’s off(!).

Even if the two surprising ways to keep a relationship alive might seem unconventional and unnatural, trying something new might just be what you’ve needed all along — both you — and your relationship!

Originally published at Therapy by Leigh.