When you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, experts say it’s pretty common to feel a sense of boredom. In many cases, there’s really nothing to worry about. But if you’re wondering how to not get bored in a relationship, there are some pretty effective ways to prevent it, and keep things interesting as time goes by.
“As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I find this to be a common issue in the couples I work with,” Erika Labuzan-Lopez, LMFT, LPC tells Bustle. After years of being together, people will go to her saying they’ve lost the excitement in their relationship. When that happens, people often feel hopeless about the state of their relationship overall.
But according to Labuzan-Lopez, boredom usually happens when people get stuck in a routine. They do the same thing every week, they don’t make time to focus on the relationship, and they generally keep it to themselves instead of addressing the issues with their partner.
“It’s important to note that being bored is not always a big problem and can indicate a healthy and stable relationship,” she says. “Having stability and knowing exactly what your partner is thinking or how they approach situations can be evidence that you have a solid foundation. What I’ve found is that couples who are bored and really just disconnected and need to find ways to bring back connection is all ways, physically, time, emotionally, and sexually.”
The good news is, there are things couples can do to get out of this slump. Scheduling date nights, talking about what you enjoy doing together, and actually going and doing it are some great ways to prevent boredom from settling in. Here are some of the most effective ways to prevent boredom in your relationship, according to science.=================
1. Determine What Boredom In A Relationship Really Looks Like For Each Partner
Everyone has their own idea of what’s boring to them. That’s why a 2013 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that it’s important to clearly define what “boredom” in a relationship looks like to each partner. If it’s a lack of interest in your partner, which was the number one reason why people got bored, compatibility may be the issue. However, if it’s something like loss of excitement, fun, or surprises, that’s something couples can work on by integrating something new into their routine.
2. Try New Things Together
Research by Dr. Arthur Aron, the man behind the the 36 questions that will make you fall in love, found that trying new things together is the key to keeping your relationship alive. For a 1993 study, 53 married couples were asked to asses the quality of their relationship before being split into three groups. One group was told to pick a new activity to do together for 90 minutes a week, another was told to do pleasant but routine activities together for 90 minutes a week, while the other group was told to not change anything for 10 weeks.
After the 10 weeks were up, couples who made it a point to try new things together were found to be the most satisfied in their relationships overall. Making the effort to do something together outside of your ordinary routine could prevent boredom in your relationship.
3. Do More Exciting Things Together
Another 2000 study by Aron and colleagues, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, put couples into two groups. One group was asked to do a “boring” task like walk together, while the other group was told to do a more “exciting” one like complete an obstacle course while being Velcroed together. Each couple was measured for relationship satisfaction before and after they completed the task. The researchers discovered that couples who did more exciting tasks were found to be much more satisfied in their relationship than those who didn’t. So it’s not just about trying new things, but being a little more adventurous as well.
4. Actively Work On Keeping Your Sex Life Fresh
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that couples who believe that a healthy sex life takes work are much more satisfied with their sex lives and relationships than those who think good sex should just happen naturally. In a series of studies and experiments that involved about 1,900 participants in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships, researchers found that having “implicit beliefs” that sex should be good if you find the right partner is simply inaccurate. Those who believed in this sort of “sexual destiny” were more likely to get bored of their sex lives and relationships much faster.
As lead study author Jessica Maxwell said in a press release, “Your sex life is like a garden. It needs to be watered and nurtured to maintain it.” So if you want to prevent boredom both inside and outside of the bedroom, remember that good sex takes work.
5. Be Grateful For Each Other
“People fall out of love because they fail to daily express their love, appreciation and gratitude for each other,” relationship expert, Sonika Tinker, MSW, tells Bustle. “During the honeymoon phase, this is easy, and in the later years, it is too easy to forget. Love and appreciation are as essential to a thriving relationship as water and sun is to a plant.”
A 2016 study published in the journal Personal Relationships found that gratitude is the key to strengthening your bond. Researchers observed the conversations of 47 couples between the ages of 24 and 40. Couples were either told to discuss the details of the previous day or express gratitude towards each other for a 30-day period. As researchers found, couples who expressed their gratitude toward each other had stronger relationships after the 30 days, than couples who didn’t. According to researchers, showing gratitude for even the smallest things helps people feel loved and connected. When people feel connected to their partners, they’re less likely to get bored with the relationship.
“A simple habit to revive love and contribute to faithfulness is to offer three appreciations every day to your partner with heartfelt authenticity,” Tinker says.
6. Keep Laughing With Each Other
The same study also found that shared laughter is another way couples strenghthen their bonds. In this experiment, researchers recorded 77 couples as they each described how they first met, and made note of how the couple laughed together and individually. As they found, people who spent more time laughing with their partner felt better connected to each other.
“People who spent more time laughing with their partner felt that they were more similar to their partner,” lead author, Sara Algoe, a social psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill told Science Daily. “They had this overlapping sense of self with the other person. We also found that the more people laughed with their romantic partner, the more they felt they were supported by that person.” Partners who laugh together just enjoy each other’s companies. How can you get bored with someone you genuinely enjoy being around?
7. Keep Kissing Each Other
A 2009 study presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that kissing is important in helping a couples bond and ultimately stay together because kissing releases oxytocin, the “love hormone.”
Kissing also helps drop levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, so couples usually feel relaxed and at ease right after a good kiss. As the study found, the cortisol levels of couples in long-term relationships continued to drop the longer they were together. If you make it a point to keep kissing one another, your hormones will pretty much do the bonding work for you. It’s so simple yet effective.
Like Labuzan-Lopez says, there’s nothing wrong with being a little too comfortable in your relationship. That just means you’ve managed to make it really far. If you don’t want boredom to cause problems in your relationship, according to science, varying things up and showing your affection can prevent that from happening.