Dating is hard, no matter what age you are.
Dating your long-term significant other can be even harder than dating someone new, but it is important to any relationship to keep things fresh. Complacency can be the killer of relationships. Tina B. Tessina, PhD, psychotherapist and author of How to Be Happy Partners: Working it Out Together has some helpful advice on why it’s important to actually date your partner, and how to do so successfully. “The most powerful thing you can do to keep a relationship strong is form a partnership, a team, where both parties feel respected, cared about and needed” she states.
“All long-term couples need to learn about transitions and reconnecting,” Tessina says. Whether or not you’re married or have children, it’s important to stay connected to your partner and feel like you’re on the same team. By making time for each other, whether it’s a date night, a fun adventure, or just making time to be affectionate with one another, you will build an unbreakable bond. “If you have children, you can still get close emotionally while they are awake and around, and then move that further to physical affection after the children are asleep or, if you’re both home, after they go to school,” Tessina recommends. “It’s very important to romance your partner from time to time, to keep the juice flowing in a long-term relationship”.
Here are some great ideas from Tessina on how to keep a relationship fresh, regardless of how long you’ve been in it.
Accomplish something together
Take a cooking class together, go camping and pitch a tent, or try fishing. “To turn up the heat a little in your relationship, try learning something together,” Tessina says. “Working together to accomplish something is very endearing.” She even recommends watching an election together, sports or a world event, such as a space launch. These are memories you’ll be building together. If your partner is into chess, ask them to teach you. “Find a venue where your partner is comfortable and happy, and ask them to show you something about that pursuit,” Tessina says.
Go on a first date again
Get a little bit nostalgic with each other. “You can repeat some of the things you did when you were first dating: go back to the first place you met, watch a DVD (complete with popcorn) of the first movie you saw together, go out for lunch at the little café near your old job, or wander through the park,” Tessina suggests. If you’ve moved, try recreating your first date at a local restaurant that serves similar cuisine.
Water is always a good idea
“There’s something very soothing and seductive about water,” Tessina suggests. Water soothes the soul and can help you relax around your partner. Try a romantic picnic at the beach. If you’re in a land-locked area, try a restaurant with a fountain, or go to a neighboring town where they offer ferry boat tours. Of course, if it is accessible to you, plan a romantic beach vacation.
Hit up tourist attractions together
Most people who live in big cities forget to visit their own local tourist attractions. “If your town attracts tourists, do what you’d do if you were a tourist there,” Tessina says. Go see an off-broadway show, a museum, or an aquarium together. “Have dinner in a nice hotel with cocktails afterward in the piano bar,” Tessina suggests. Zoos, lakes, botanical gardens or hot-air balloon rides may be tourist attractions, but there’s a reason these activities draw so much attention. Take a night off from your worries and have fun with your partner!
Look for local talent
After you’ve done all the touristy stuff, try being a local again. “Search out the small theaters, college events and speakers, or even high school plays and sports,” Tessina says. “The energy in these less-commercial places will inspire you and give you a lot to talk about.” Check out local bands and music venues as well. Build memories with each other that you can laugh about for years to come.
Ask your friends
While you don’t want to involve your friends in relationship issues or petty fights, friends can be a great resource for fun ideas when you’re dating your partner. “Canvass your friends to find their favorite things to do, and try those,” Tessina says.
You might expand your own horizons, and find out things about your friends that you didn’t previously know. “If friends like cricket or soccer, and you’ve never seen it, try going with them so they can explain it to you. If they have a fave restaurant, or hideaway, try that,” Tessina says.It never hurts to get suggestions from those close to you that you and your partner can enjoy together.