As date nights turn into movie nights, and sexy jammies turn into old leggings with unintentional crotch holes, you may be met with many possible signs that your relationship is getting boring. It's true, growth of comfortability in a relationship can sometimes mean the decline of sparks. Yet, for every "old married couple" type, there are plenty of LTR that keep the heat turned up. Dating someone long-term doesn't mean the fun has to end.
Far past the stages of "will they text me back?" long-term relationships demand their own kind of excitement. When you know your boo like the back of your hand, it can feel impossible to surprise them. They know your fave Thai place, they know the shampoo you use, and they know you only do that thing they like on their birthday or when there's a good sale at the Gap. But, get this — precisely because you both think you always know what to expect, it can actually be pretty easy (and fun!) to break the routine.
Maybe you said you were ordering take-out, but secretly cooked up a nice dinner. Or you asked bae to binge the new season of House of Cards with you, but really you put on a sexy movie — or every Rihanna music video ever made. When you feel the spice turning down, you don't need to run for the door. You can use the comfortability you have built to keep the sparks flying, deep into the relationship.
I spoke with relationship and wellbeing coach, Shula Melamed MA, MPH, about the signs that you and your boo could use a little shake up, and how to keep up the heat in a LTR.
1. You can't tell comfort from carelessness.
There's a certain zen that comes with knowing you can wear your overnight retainer with your boo and still know they think you're sexy. Your boo sees you when you're petty, when you're rude to your mom, when you're being short-sighted, and they love you all the same. Long term relationships build trust and comfort, but when does comfort lead to not caring?
"Being comfortable means being able to be authentically you in the relationship and allowing the other person to be as well," Melamed tells Elite Daily. "Being careless is not keeping the connection and spark alive or just getting lazy with self presentation or hygiene. After being with someone for a while, we can expect a certain amount of routine, which can be good, but you have to know when its time to create some moments together that are unexpected and transcendent."
It's great to be able to be yourself with someone. If you're the type of person who puts on a full outfit to run to Target to get tampons, it may be fun to let your boo see you, as Drake would say, sweatpants, hair tied, chillin' with no makeup on. But let it be known that comfort and carelessness are not the same thing. You can tone down the glitz and still let your boo know that you care about them deeply.
2. You're not taking time for you.
If you are constantly with your boo, or constantly getting with your boo, you may owe yourself a solo check-in.
"Sometimes when we are bored we also need to connect to ourselves and bring out what ever has gone dormant within us," Melamed says. "Interesting lives and relationships are built and supported by those who are invested in making them do so."
If you dropped your pottery class or that kickboxing membership to spend more time with bae, it could be worth making time for the things that you do for you. Remembering the activities that bring you joy outside of your relationship, can help bring more joy back into your relationship. Knowing what feels good for you and your body, and giving yourself a night or two of solo self-care, can help bring back the heat with boo.
3. Life is getting in the way.
If you were the type of teen to say things like, "I was born in the wrong decade," you've probably seen pictures of John Lennon and Yoko Ono staying in bed in a hotel in London for a week. A less popular photo however, is John and Yoko out of the bed, watching the hotel maid clean their sheets. From needing new bedding to needing to go to work, there are lots of reasons couples can't stay in bed making out all day.
"Sometimes life and its responsibilities can have us dealing with the business of life more than the pleasure of it," Melamed says. "Its totally normal to go through a phase where it is feeling 'all work.' Maybe it means one or both of you are not in great places or conscious places. Survival mode can make it feel like you don't have anything left to give but at the end of the day even small gestures and reinvestments in the connection can make a difference."
When life gets in the way, little things can make a big difference when it comes to making your boo feel seen and cared for.
4. You're not talking enough
If you're feeling a lull coming on, speak up! The only way to combat relationship steadfastness is to open up the conversation.
"Talk about it! Don't start with 'I'm bored' — ask your partner what they are looking to experience and share some of your desires," Melamed says. "Collaborate on a plan to invite more adventure and exploration into your relationship whether it means traveling, going out to different events or socializing with different people. Acknowledging that more possibilities for different ways to connect can be created, all the while appreciating what they have."
Rather than focusing on the negative, talking about things you and your boo may want to try can be a happy (and sexy!) way to open conversation. Taking time to appreciate what you have is also super important. Long-term relationships can be beautiful and wonderful connections. Giving your partner some TLC and reminding them how much you care can start to reheat the flame.
When it comes to your relationship, you and your boo are the only ones that know what's up. If you're happy with the pace of your partnership, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. If you're starting to feel date nights are getting a little stale, maybe suggest trying something new. If you're feeling disconnected, take time to check in with yourself and your own needs. When in relationship doubt — talk it out. And, when all else fails, listen to 2010 Rihanna.