Ah, the enigmatic “spark.” Your bestie refers to it while complaining to you about the lack of chemistry on her recent Tinder date. You mention it while assessing contestants’ odds on The Bachelor. It’s that intangible thing that no one can quite put their finger on — but when it’s missing, you're definitely well aware. If you've been asking yourself, "has my relationship lost its spark?" consider that according to relationship and etiquette expert April Masini, there are ways to tell when it's faded. Fortunately, there are also ways to get it back.
While it can be difficult to define the spark, Masini says that if you consistently look forward to seeing your partner, get excited talking about your future with them and feel continually grateful for their existence in your life, those are all solid signs that the spark is alive and well. If you feel the urge to hug them, hold them close, and tell them you appreciate them, that’s a sign that the spark is alive and well in your relationship.
“Your eyes meet from across the room, and you feel something,” she adds. “When you and your partner can connect like this, without words, it’s because you have a spark between you.”
One of the top signs that you’ve lost that spark is that your priorities have shifted.
“You’d rather not have sex because you want to binge watch That 70s Show,” explains Masini.
It’s worth noting that it’s totally normal to not feel in the mood now and then. We all have different needs where sex is concerned, and therefore, the frequency of physical intimacy varies from couple to couple. However, if you regularly feel like there are other things you’d rather be doing or you’re actively avoiding intimacy in any way, that may suggest the spark has faded.
Quick question: When was the last time you had a date night? And no, thoughtlessly grabbing takeout from your go-to Thai spot and watching the hockey game together doesn’t count. Having real dates with your partner, whether hitting up a local concert or cooking ani indulgent meal at home, helps to keep the romance alive, so take note if neither of you has been making those plans on a weekly basis.
“When you and your partner stop doing things together that are special, and you stop putting in the work that keeps a relationship spark alive, you’ve lost it,” explains Masini.
While it’s totally healthy to have occasional disagreements in your relationship, Masini asserts that if you argue more than you compliment each other, that could be another red flag.
“People who don’t say nice things to each other diminish that spark,” she explains. “The absence of compliments leaves a void, and what creeps into that void is annoyance, resentment and bickering.”
Another thing to watch out for is complaints and passive-aggressive jokes about your boo. It’s normal to discuss relationship issues you’re having with your besties, but if you find yourself putting your partner down a lot, that’s not a good sign.
“When you’ve gotten to this point where your partner is someone you denigrate with humor more than you express appreciation for to your friends and family, you’ve lost the spark,” she adds.
If any of these signs sound familiar, or you just have a sneaking feeling that the spark has disappeared, here’s some good news: It’s totally possible to re-ignite it. Masini recommends honing on how to make your sex life more fulfilling if you suspect that’s a potential source of the issue.
“Sex isn’t everything, but it helps people feel good about the relationship and about themselves.” she adds. “Switch it up, make time and space, rent a hotel room, go on vacation — whatever you need to do, do it.”
Obviously, we all want to feel appreciated by our significant others. That’s why it’s important to find new ways to show your boo that you care about them — according to Masini, the spark is fueled by these small acts. Getting to know your partner’s love language can be super helpful in this regard. Once you know how they receive love, you can figure out the best way to communicate it to them, whether it’s paying them a genuine compliment now and then, buying them a thoughtful gift just because, cleaning out their car, or giving them a massage after a stressful day at work.
A shift in scenery can also work wonders when your relationship has started to feel stale, and the spark is nowhere to be found. As such, Masini recommends taking a road trip or planning a trip to a place you’ve never been to.
“Shake things up by changing your environment,” she says.
You can also spice things up and stoke the spark by penning a bucket list.
“This isn’t about you getting a graduate degree or running a marathon — it’s about what you want to do together, as a couple,” Masini explains. “When you do this, you bond, share, create intimacy and a future together. These are all fuel for the spark.”
As humans, we crave novelty, so sharing new experiences with bae can obviously invigorate your relationship. Plus, these experiences offer up opportunities to get to know each other better in new and exciting ways, as well as provide some meaningful memories that are bound to last.
If you feel like the spark is missing from your relationship, don’t panic. All relationships go through many ebbs and flows, and it definitely doesn’t mean that the passion is permanently gone. That said, the spark likely won’t stay alive on its own — most happy couples will attest to the fact that it requires some work to keep it going. Make an effort to show appreciation for your partner, plan date nights, prioritize physical intimacy, and infuse some novelty into your relationship through new experiences, and that sought-after spark will be flickering in no time.