5 Signs You've Reached A Relationship Rut & How To Shake Up Your Routine

There's a common myth that revolves around the "perfect relationship", that never fails nor falters, where both parties remain passionately in love until they're holding hands across rocking chairs. Not a single fight, no need to fix a relationship rut. But this piece of folklore, rooted in rom-coms and country songs, ignores the reality that everyone dwindles from time-to-time — it's completely normal to grow comfortable with your partner, even to the point of boredom.

All couples who are together long-term will experience a lag in their relationship, which isn't necessarily a sign of incompatibility. In fact, it can signify just the opposite: You are so in-sync with your significant other, that you've fallen with ease into a simplified routine. As long as love and respect still exist as the foundation of your connection, excitement can quite seamlessly slip back into your everyday life. The key is to become cognizant of the warning signs that you are indeed entering a rut, and actively try to break it. And hey — not all work is hard work. I'm talking about amping up date night, not studying for the MCAT!

Keep in mind that it's the individuals that determine a relationship, not the other way around. If you're committed to shaking things up, the intention alone is indication enough that what you're fight for is indeed worth it.

You Aren't Sharing Meals
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When you're in a long-term relationship, eating dinner is about a lot more than just sustenance: For some couples, it can be the only meal when busy schedules intersect. But sometimes, you've both had such long days that you opt for ordering take-out and binge watching The Office in silence, simply because it's easier.

"Dinner is usually the first casualty of this confluence, " April Masini, relationship expert and author behind the Relationship Advice Forum, tells Elite Daily. "When couples stop having dinner together because they grab something on the go or eat when they’re tired and hungry instead of planning meals together, they fall into a boring routine."

So, what's the fix? "Proactively make plans," Masini says. It can be as simple as dinner at your favorite restaurant, followed by a movie, or as elaborate as recreating your very first date. If you're on a budget, try surprising each other with a home-cooked meal, candles, and a killer playlist. It can sound a little corny, but romance novel protagonists always pull this move for a reason!

You Stopped Making New Friends
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Think of you and your partner as a science experiment for a second: If you guys are the control unit, and you can always predict how the control will react, then what do you need to add to your lab? A different set of variables!

"Couples tend to just see the same people, over, and over — which leads to boredom," Masini says. "It’s great to have new people in your lives, who balance out your true blue friendships. It also makes you both feel better about your relationship, because it can become more interesting with new people."

Try reaching outside of your comfort zone. "Invite people who are on the peripheries of your lives, to meet you for drinks, dinner, brunch or a walk in the park," Masini says. "These can be neighbors, friends of friends you meet at parties, or people you think could be interesting." Start small — like asking a couple out on a coffee date!

You Dread Holiday Season
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If Christmas bells are ringing, but the sheer thought of another expensive trip to visit your parents or your partner's family fills you with existential dread instead of holiday joy, consider mixing things up.

"If you’re dreading traveling to 'do the holiday'” because it’s the same-old-same-old, and it’s expensive, you’ve fallen into a relationship rut," Masini says. "Right about now, a lot of people are buying plane tickets for the winter. And they’re not into it. Their lives feel boring, and this part of it, is adding to that."

Why not plan an epic adventure? Start saving up now, by putting whatever you can into a vacation fund. When you reach your goal amount, use the money to take a trip that dream trip you and your partner have always talked about, but never gone on. You can also plan an exciting staycation, filled with activities that you never get to do together, and perhaps even a suite stay using the deals on Hoteltonight!

"Have a destination Thanksgiving," Masini says. "Forgo the big family meal for a volunteer day with those who don’t have a big family meal. Whatever you decide, when you shake it up for the holidays, you’re going to feel better about yourselves and about your relationship. You’ll feel interested and interesting."

Your Weekends Are For Errands
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There are always a trillion little things that I'm never able to get to during the week. These errands can be as trivial as buying more shampoo or painting my nails. I get so caught up in my own to-do list that Sunday night comes around and I realize that I've barely seen my partner.

"Couples tend to overextend themselves, and they see the weekends as the time to get everything done they didn’t have time for during the week," Masini says. "This means little time for spontaneity, fun and new activities. This isn’t good for your relationship or for your personal lives."

Give your significant other, and your mental health, a break by planning ahead, and trying to complete as much as you can after work or on Friday night. Then exhale. "Give yourselves one entire weekend day to have no chores involved," Masini says. "No shopping trips. No car washes. No cleaning closets. This is actually tough to do — but so worth it. When you have a free day together, you’re much more likely to try museums, romance, foreign films, road trips — and other interesting and fun things that bond you together." Try your hardest to refrain from finally fixing that wonky kitchen cupboard and instead, pitch a picnic in the park. Appliances are replaceable, memories are not.

You Don't Try New Things In The Bedroom
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When it comes to sex, great comfort can be taken in knowing exactly what you, and your partner, like. But when each night becomes more of a memorized routine than an experience, you can start to become physically removed from the connection that's driving your desires in the first place.

"If you’re not doing it, or you’re doing it by rote, even if nobody knows this but the two of you, it shows in that lack of spring in your step," Masini says. "Lots of couples — especially those in long-term relationships — over time, become boring in the bedroom."

Don't treat this phenomenon as if it's the end of the world. Instead, take active measures to communicate how you're feeling to your partner, in an effort to spice things up. "Make a bucket list together with sexual acts you both want to try out and decide which ones to go for," Masini says. If you plan on being with your significant other long-term, the ability to talk openly about your sexual preferences and fantasies is deeply important. Don't be afraid to divulge!

I've been with my partner for almost two years, and we both have full-time jobs. Whenever we feel like the world around us is revolving a little too quickly, we avoid collision by acknowledging our emotional state. Then, we set aside a little time to stand still together. Sometimes there's nothing less boring than sharing a silent moment with someone you love.

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