HEALTH AND WELLNESS

4 tips for keeping things fun, sexy in your long-term relationship

Sara Kuburic
USA TODAY

Think back to the iconic romantic comedies of the '90s or early 2000s. The focus is always on people getting together and little information is given about what happens once they do. What does their happily ever after look like? Are they just in a perpetual state of bliss? Do they have an everlasting passion for one another, and are all their biggest issues behind them? 

The answer is no. Every relationship requires work, especially long-term relationships. Maybe you have overcome the hurdle of making the first move, treading unfamiliar territories, compromising and getting to know each another, but with time, new hurdles emerge. Here is a common one: Keeping the relationship interesting and fun for years!

So, how can we keep the fun alive in a long-term relationship? I have four suggestions.

Stay curious. One of the biggest relationship killers is assuming we know our partner so well, we stop paying attention. We assume we know everything there is to know, so we stop listening. But the reality is that people grow and change, and to make the relationship work we need to keep up with each other. Maybe you knew what their favorite hobby, sex position or foods were when they were in college, but have you checked in lately? The relationship needs to be a safe space where each person can explore and be curious about who they are, and have their partner be part of that journey. A sense of unfounded familiarity cannot only lead us to think we are still dating a version of our partner from a year ago, but it can lead to boredom and complacency. A great way to keep things interesting is by staying curious about who we are and who they are.

Do I need to label my relationship?:Are we dating or just friends with benefits?

Try new things. It’s easy to get into a rut and go to your three favorite restaurants, do one hobby together, have a go-to sex routine and hang out with the same people. And although there is nothing wrong with that, to keep things interesting it can be helpful to try new things.

I once heard of a couple who asked each other to learn a new skill. She asked him to take cooking classes (so he can help out with meal prep and they can try out some new recipes at home), and he asked her to take some massage classes (so that she can help him with his tension headaches). How cool! Some couples will randomly flip through the Kamasutra book and try a new sex position once a month or go to an event and be intentional about meeting at least one new person. There is no right or wrong way of doing this, figure out what works for you as a couple. 

My friend sex-shamed me.:Do I have to include her in my wedding?

Surprise each other. I am not talking about jumping out of the bushes  more like thoughtful gestures of love. Yes, it’s fun to be spontaneous, but sometimes you have to plan your spontaneity. Show the person you still care, that you were listening to them when they spoke about their dream hiking spot or their favorite food of the moment. You can surprise them with a clean house, a cute sticky note or a weekend picnic. Surprises are not just about the size of the action, but about the thoughtfulness behind it!

Be flirty. Yes, yes, you won them over and now you're in a relationship. But, this doesn't mean that sexual tension and witty banter need to exit the stage. On the contrary, it becomes really important in keeping the desire and connection alive. Sending a flirty text or giving them a wink during a family dinner can sometimes do the trick!

Sara Kuburic is a therapist who specializes in identity, relationships and moral trauma. Every week she shares her advice with our readers. Find her on Instagram @millennial.therapist. She can be reached at SKuburic@gannett.com.

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