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8 Ways To Keep The Spark Alive

A lot of the letters I receive focus on where and how to meet the right person, and as much as I appreciate how arduous the search for a partner can be, once you meet that person falling in love is actually pretty easy. It’s staying in love that’s the trickiest part of all. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I give you eight ways to keep the spark alive in your relationship, after the jump.

1. Go on regular dates. How can you expect to keep romance alive if you’re never seeing each other dressed up and outside the walls of your own home? If you can, shoot for getting out and doing something fun together — preferably one-on-one, but double dates can work too — at least once a week. Grocery shopping doesn’t count.

2. Take up a new hobby together. Researchers say that experiencing new activities together creates the same chemicals in the brain that are created during the early stages of romantic love. Take a cooking class, home brew some beer, learn to Tango. Watching “American Idol” together doesn’t count.

3. Do sweet and simple things for each other. Little unexpected surprises keep things spontaneous and show your partner you care. Homemade cookies, a bouquet of daffodils (some Proflowers coupons are always available!), or a great back rub do wonders for keeping the spark alive. Plus, you may get a little sumpin’ sumpin’ for your efforts.

4. Keep secrets from each other. Secrets that really don’t need to be shared with your partner: the consistency of your last bowel movement, how many hairs you tweezed from your chin this morning, and what came out of that zit you popped on your shoulder in the shower. A little mystery goes a long way in keeping things sexy. When in doubt, close your trout.

5. Reminisce together. If you feel like you’re in a bit of a romance rut, take a trip down memory lane to a time you weren’t in a rut. Re-trace your first date; go through old photos, love letters or other memorabilia from your early months together; if there’s a place that holds some special significance, go there if you can, remember what it is that made you fall in love and think about how much you’ve grown as a couple since then.

6. Spend some time apart. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, so spend some quality time away from your significant other — a weekend away with friends, for example — gives you a chance to maintain and foster your own identity, nurture other relationships, and miss each other a little … which makes your time together that much sweeter.

7. Flirt with other people. Playing eye tag with the cute stranger on the subway, or exchanging extra pleasant pleasantries with the hot barista at your local coffee shop — provided it doesn’t cross the bounds of appropriateness — is a great way to remind yourself that you’re sexy, desirable, and fun, all of which are probably the traits that made your significant other fall for you in the first place.

8. Fake it. The term “Fake it ’til you make it,” applies to your love life as much as to anything else. Even if you don’t feel particularly in love with your significant other today — relationships are cyclical, after all; you’re not going to feel “in love” every day — going through the motions mindfully and with loving intention helps you get there authentically a little faster (and it keeps your partner feeling loved in the mean time).

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{ 22 comments… add one }

  • avatar ArtsyGirl February 14, 2011, 1:41 pm

    I love all this advice! I always believed Disney movies end at the wedding because after that the real relationship work has to start, and oftentimes it doesn’t feel like a fairy tale.

    • avatar Emsz February 14, 2011, 1:47 pm

      Watching a film about how the rest of their lives would be doesn’t sound that appealing to me :P That’s why they always end it on: ‘And they live happily ever after’.

    • avatar AnitaBath February 14, 2011, 2:20 pm

      Disney movies always end after the wedding because too many monarchs are beheaded and/or overthrown and/or hated by the people. That’s no fun for a Disney movie! ;)

      • avatar ArtsyGirl February 14, 2011, 2:24 pm

        ROTFL

  • LK7889 LK7889 February 14, 2011, 1:55 pm

    Great tips, Wendy. One thing that I’m curious about though is if you (or anyone else) have any very cheap (less than $20) or free date ideas?

    • avatar MissDre February 14, 2011, 2:02 pm

      Museums. I saw a great pop art show with my bf last summer. Also went to the museum of nature, and museum of science. If you have the right sense of humor/adventure museums can be so awesome. Not sure where you live or if this is available, but in spring time go paddle boating. That’s always fun. You can check out some slam poetry events if you are into that. I didn’t think I’d be into it but spoken word blew my mind. Glow-in-the-dark mini putting is awesome and costs about $8 per person for 2 rounds.

    • avatar ArtsyGirl February 14, 2011, 2:08 pm

      Check out some of your local movie theaters. One chain where I live has $5 Tuesday movies which is cheaper than popcorn.

      I work for an art museum and we are always doing amazing and inexpensive events besides tours inside. Two weeks ago we had a few musicians come and play the score for a silent Charlie Chaplin movie. We also have over 100 acres of land which has sculpture and art installations which are great to go on picnic and hike.

      I suggest going to your local tourism website and see what is listed. A lot of times street festivals are not well advertised but can be a great (and inexpensive) time.

    • avatar cdj0815 February 14, 2011, 2:20 pm

      Sometimes you may have to make date night a little early. Go to the early bird movie, and stop to get something to eat on the way home. Sit up in the bed and read or look at a TV movie together and talk. I miss that part of the relationship more than I do the sex.

    • avatar baby.blanka February 14, 2011, 2:33 pm

      @LK – we sometimes do the groupon thing if we have a coupon for a trendy spot, or just go during days/hours when they have specials (happy hours and appetizers are the way to go! You’re a little tipsy and not too full ;)

    • avatar Wolvie_girl February 14, 2011, 3:30 pm

      Just had a great date with my fella of 3+ years that only cost the price of two coffees: We got up early on saturday, picked up some coffees from a favorite baker, then headed over to an antique mall. We weren’t actually shopping for anything, we just spent hours roaming the aisles, trying on silly old hats and jewelry, pointing out cool or wacky old artwork and where we would hang it in our house…etc. So much fun!

    • avatar Painted_lady February 14, 2011, 3:33 pm

      Picnics are free, and if you bring candles they’re actually a lot of fun to do in the evenings. Also, the vast majority of professional theatre companies NOT on Broadway have pretty cheap tickets and perhaps a pay-what-you-can performance where they get a lot of broke people (and artists are always broke, so they don’t judge).

  • avatar MissDre February 14, 2011, 1:57 pm

    I love this. I haven’t been out on a date with my man since the snow showed up. I think I’m going to make plan a night out to this Black History talent show I’ve been wanting to check out.

    I was also planning to ask him to come with me to an event out of town in the spring, but I think I’ll take a girlfriend instead. Give us some time apart, and give me a chance to re-connect with my best gal pal.

    • avatar sarolabelle February 14, 2011, 2:38 pm

      MissDre – I posted something in your response letter post, I think you should check out. :)

      • avatar MissDre February 14, 2011, 2:47 pm

        Thanks so much chica :) It is much appreciated! Guess what I got for Valentine’s Day… a long stem rose and my very favourite brand and flavour of coffee! He doesn’t even drink coffee, so I was pretty amazed that he remembered when I mentioned it in passing. Happy Valentine’s Day to you sarolabelle, and all the ladies (and the guys) here and especially to Wendy!

        • Dear Wendy Wendy February 14, 2011, 2:55 pm

          Thank you! Happy Valentine’s Day to you too, MissDre!

  • avatar Wolvie_girl February 14, 2011, 3:44 pm

    I’m personally a big believer in #4! I know some think you can’t really be “comfortable” or serious with someone, until you’ve farted, burped, etc. in their presence, but I find it very helpful to keep that stuff OUT of my relationship. My BF and I live together, but we made a conscience decision to leave the “bathroom stuff” in the bathroom. We don’t discuss bowl movements, we don’t burp or fart in front of each other…It’s not that we can’t relax around each other, it’s just that that stuff can kill romance, so we keep a little “mystery”!

    • avatar SPIDER April 11, 2011, 12:07 pm

      iF YOU ARE OLDER LATE 60′S AND UP,SOMETIMES FARTS SLIP OUT..YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO LAUGH AT YOURSELF..

  • Skyblossom Skyblossom February 15, 2011, 10:09 am

    The last item is definitely true. Your marriage will go in the direction you take it. If you’re angry it will be angry, if you’re thoughful it will be thoughtful, if you’re flirty it will be flirty. If you realize you’re not happy with your relationship you can decide what you think is missing and then provide it. Your partner will almost always respond in a very postiive way. Almost everyone loves to be appreciated, flirted with, cuddled, or made special in some way and you can do that for your partner and they will respond and you will have done that for your relationship and when they respond they will likely reciprocate and you will end up receiving what you’ve been giving.

  • Skyblossom Skyblossom February 15, 2011, 10:14 am

    I would not flirt with a stranger. Especially not if you live in a smaller town where people will recognize you and talk about you if they see you flirting. I would definitely go home and flirt with my spouse. That will remind you what you saw in your partner, remind them or confirm to them that you still find them desirable and heat up your relationship from the inside. Often we get into a rut in a relationship and we can pull it out by pulling back together in lots of little ways. Flirting is a hot little way.

  • avatar PFG-SCR February 15, 2011, 11:24 am

    Maybe I missed this in the article or comments, but the obvious omission is just to tell your significant other that you love them at least once a day. The other omission is physical intimacy, typically achieved through frequent, mutually satisfying sex (but, I recognize there are other ways). While not always, a couple’s sex life is often a barometer for the overall health of a relationship.

  • avatar Leslie February 15, 2011, 5:04 pm

    This is just what I needed and reaffirms some of the “spark inducing” ideas I’ve been thinking of. Thanks Wendy!

  • avatar damian March 23, 2012, 12:40 pm

    For keeping the spark in a relationship making time for one another is really important

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