Simple Ways To Surprise Your Partner And Add Romance To Your Relationship

In the early days of a romantic relationship, every feeling is headier, every look more meaningful. But as time goes by, these bubbling emotions can subside, leaving behind a quieter feeling of togetherness. While there's nothing wrong with a gentle love, sometimes you may find your connection getting buried under the practicalities of everyday life. Instead of snuggling in bed, you're getting up early to pack lunches. Instead of playing footsie under the dinner table, you're already thinking about tomorrow's schedule or the pile of dishes waiting in the kitchen.

In short, life happens. But does that mean romance should fall totally by the wayside? Experts disagree, pointing out that romantic gestures can strengthen your partnership, even if they're less grand or perfect than what you see in movies (via Psychology Today). You may not have time to hire a marching band or stage an elaborate vow renewal ceremony, but introducing small touches of romance can breathe new life into your relationship. To help you get started, here are easy ways to rebuild connection and intimacy with your partner.

Hold hands more often

Hand-holding may seem like a simple, childish gesture, but our human need for touch can be profound, even affecting our physical well-being. For instance, skin-on-skin contact like hand-holding may help you experience better sleep, smoother digestion, and stronger immunity, not to mention mental health benefits (via WebMD). Plus, touch can help you and a partner feel more bonded.

"Research shows that touch, like holding hands, releases oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that gives you that feel-good buzz," Toni Coleman, a psychotherapist and relationship coach, tells Women's Health. "It invokes a positive feeling about one another, so you both feel sexy and wanted. It's almost like foreplay."

And this effect isn't limited to new couples still enjoying the honeymoon phase. "With spouse hand-holding you also stop looking for other signs of danger and you start feeling more secure," psychology professor Dr. James Coan tells The New York Times. "If you're in a really strong relationship, you may be protected against pain and stress hormones that may have a damaging effect on your immune system." Long story short, hand-holding is a win-win situation, helping strengthen both your partnership and individual health. So while it may seem almost too easy, try rekindling that early-relationship affection by grabbing your partner's palm the next time you're out for a walk.

Be a little flirty

Most of the time, we see flirting as a way to express interest before someone becomes our partner. But harnessing that flattering, butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling can also be a powerful way to maintain a spark in your long-term relationship. "When we get to the comfortable, stable place of knowing we have 'secure' status with someone else, it's common to lose the playfulness that got you together in the first place," sex coach Amy Levine tells Bustle. "Flirting keeps the playfulness and banter alive. It keeps the energy flowing between two people, so they are plugged in, making sex more 'electric' rather than feeling like a fuse blew and you're disconnected."

This energy can also help renew your focus on one another. In a long-term relationship, it's all too easy to start overlooking the little things. But practicing the close attention required by flirting can remind you of all the funny things you love about your S.O., from their cute butt or tiny sneezes to the way they scrunch their nose to keep their glasses on. "Have you lost the ability to be curious about what's happening in your relationship or has life overtaken you and obliterated any time to stop and stare?" sex therapist Ammanda Major asks The Guardian. Finding time and places to connect — such as with a little flirting — may be an important way to truly see each other again.

Find ways to speak their love language

Sometimes, romance seeps out of our relationships because our communication wires get crossed. For example, maybe you keep trying to express your love, but your partner never seems to pick up on your efforts. This could be a sign that you need to reassess your love languages together. Love languages are simply a way to define how we show and receive affection and are typically broken down into five categories: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and gifts (via 5 Love Languages).

There are plenty of resources online to figure out what your love language is, so it should be fairly straightforward to identify the romantic approach that works best for you. Just bear in mind that you want to express love in the way your partner receives it, and vice versa, so both of you feel fulfilled. Even if you and your partner have different love languages, there are small gestures you can make to help them feel seen and appreciated.

If your partner's love language is acts of service, find ways to do little favors for them. Bring them a cup of coffee in the morning, help out with chores without being asked, or cook their favorite meal. If their love language is words of affirmation, be sure to share your love out loud through compliments or loving notes. And for someone who loves physical touch, find ways to maintain contact both in and out of the bedroom. A little cuddling or an evening foot rub may go a long way.

Get a change of scenery

If your relationship is feeling stale, try breaking up your routine and enjoying a new experience together. They say variety is the spice of life, so why not get a little spicy? "Spontaneity is about surprise," life coach Naomi Light tells CalmMoment. "The emotion of surprise is useful therapeutically (so long as it is a good surprise) as it can switch our brains into the positive connector emotions of trust, love, and joy. These, in turn, will trigger the production of the happy hormones we hear so much about."

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to embrace a little spontaneity together without disrupting your responsibilities or breaking your budget. Shaking up your normal day-to-day life can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or visiting an unfamiliar museum. Indulging in a weekend getaway is also a great way to reset your expectations and enjoy each other in a new setting, especially if it means a break from work or kids.

Be deliberate about intimacy

One of the biggest complaints among long-term couples is waning passion. Sexual boredom, as it's sometimes called, can be rooted in a number of issues, from ADHD or depression to physical discomfort (via Healthline). But if none of these issues are at play, poor intimacy may just mean a lack of mindfulness and novelty in your sex life. To reforge the pathways of sexual interest, there are a few things you can try to establish deliberate intimacy with your partner.

If you usually wait for your partner to initiate sex, try being more proactive. It can feel like a burden if your partner is always expected to lead the way, and may impact their enthusiasm. By expressing your desires more directly, you may help them feel confident and eager in the bedroom. If you're feeling physically distant, you can also try showering together to introduce more physicality and vulnerability without skipping straight to sex.

Finally, when you do share an intimate moment with your partner, take your time. "Foreplay helps to maintain intimacy. Physical intimacy but also emotional intimacy," urologist and sexual health expert Dr. Jennifer Berman tells Men's Health. Building up tension and anticipation before the main event can make for a more satisfying romantic experience.