Whether you’re dating someone new or looking to strengthen a long-term relationship, there are plenty of things you can do to expand the connection you have with your partner. The following five ideas are a great place to start:
1. Cook together
Many people see cooking as a chore, but when you have quality cookware sets, a clean kitchen, a bit of music, and a willing partner, you’ve got the right ingredients to create a beautifully bonding experience. Working together to craft the food that nourishes you is a simple yet powerful way to connect on a visceral level with your significant other. Prepare something that requires you to use your hands, and the sensual experience may spill into other parts of your relationship.
2. Spend some of your free time apart
Many couples slip into the habit of spending their work days apart but all their free time together. While this isn’t necessarily unhealthy, you can refresh your connection by spending a bit of time away from each other. This could mean spending an hour, day, weekend, or week apart – whatever works for your schedules and social habits.
This time gives you the chance to miss your partner, to remember all the things you love about them, and to forget about all those meaningless little things that annoy you. It also gives you both time to reflect on whether you’re feeling fulfilled in the relationship. This could lead to some tough conversations, but these talks are crucial if you want to ensure you’re truly supporting your partner’s needs.
3. Add some novelty to your routine
Humans are creatures of habit, and routines can be very helpful for our mental health. However, they can also get a little boring and repetitive after a while. You don’t have to think of new and exciting things to do every day – the occasional shake-up is all it takes to keep things a little spicy.
For example, you might want to try a new coffee roastery or a restaurant in a part of town you rarely visit. If you want to go all-out, you could go traveling together and experience a new country, culture, language, and environment. The nature of the novelty doesn’t matter all that much. What’s important is that you create the right blend of comfort and adventure, routine, and freshness.
4. Learn the steel man technique
This is one of the most effective methods you can apply in arguments if you want them to have a productive resolution. Steel manning involves listening to what your partner has to say and then repeating it back to them until they are satisfied that you truly get it.
Too often, couples in arguments will do the opposite – repeating their partner’s argument in a way that makes it sound silly or unfounded. Much of the argument ends up centering around each person trying to get the other to stop trivializing their side.
If you avoid this from the start by steel manning your partner’s argument, they can relax in the knowledge that you understand where they’re coming from. You’ll likely also find that by using this technique, you’re able to see that your partner isn’t being entirely unreasonable. If they do the same thing for your argument, you’ll have an excellent foundation for finding an appropriate resolution.
Relationships can be fun, effortless, and flirtatious, even if you’re several years (or decades) in. However, they also require patience, understanding, and work if you want to go the distance. Try any or all of the tips above to keep the bond you share with your partner strong.