Your brain and body simply can't sustain the adrenaline-fueled butterfly feeling for years and years (and it's a lot less sad when you accept that). But losing the lustre doesn't mean you're destined for misery—you can (CAN) fall back in love again.
Think about it: When two people first get together, they put a lot of effort and energy into making their partner happy and their twosome flourish. But as time passes and you get more comfortable with each other, it's easy to become passive.
“Relationships grow stale generally because the couple avoids confronting the issue,” says Franklin Porter, PhD, a psychotherapist in New York.
That means, then, that falling in love—or back in it—is an intentional act. And while no one half of a duo can make things perfect, you can definitely do your part to refresh your relationship when things go meh.
Here's exactly what to do to fall in love again:
1. Do something to make your partner's life better.
Since you're the one reading this article, you may be looking for ways to feel closer to your S.O. rather than doing things for someone whom you feel a little detached from. But, stay with me: Since "love" is a verb, "when you lead with action, your heart tends to follow," says Seth J. Gillihan, PhD, a psychologist in Philadelphia.
"Plan something unexpected, like doing one of their chores or making them a nice lunch," he says. Doing so reminds your brain that this person is important to you—and seeing their "Aww, thanks babe" reaction will likely make you feel all giddy again.
2. Spend time away from each other.
It sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes when things get a little mouldy, you need some separation to rekindle the spark. I don't mean jet-setting across the country for a month—but giving yourself the time and space to be your own person.
“When two people feel their relationship has gone stale, it may feel to them as if they've grown apart," says Stephen Snyder, MD, a sex and relationship therapist and author of Love Worth Making. "But very often the problem is that they've failed to grow as individuals, apart from one another."
Your fix: Pursue a hobby that your person has no interest in, like a cooking class or hot yoga. "This gives your partner a chance to truly see you as the 'other,'" says Dr. Snyder, which can help them see you with fresh eyes.
3. Ask yourself what they need.
Sometimes when you feel disconnected from your partner, the issue isn't a lack of passion but rather a presence of resentment. That comes from a place of you feeling like a victim and them, a perpetrator.
So take a minute to assess what they're going through and what their particular needs may be (in the moment, and in general), says Gillihan. Are they hungry? Exhausted? Do they need to be embraced? These questions may be especially effective to ask yourself during an argument, which tend to happen more when you've hit the relationship doldrums. "Then see if there's anything you can do to meet that need," Gillihan says.
Just like doing something nice for them, responding to their needs can help them feel closer to you—in turn, making you feel closer to them and helping you fall in love again.
Note: If this exercise is a real struggle for you—perhaps because of longstanding fights or issues—it might be a good idea to see a couples therapist, who can help you work through your needs together.
4. Spend more present time with them.
Even if you live with your boyfriend (or husband, or girlfriend/wife), chances are, a lot of the time you spend with them is occupied by other things—emails, kids, TV, phone calls, etc.
But disconnecting from the world around you to truly be with your partner can help you feel the feels again because it reminds you that, above all else, you two are a team (not two people who connected for no real reason).
One half of this equation is leaving work at work and setting your phone down to spend quality time with your person, Porter says. The other half is a skill you may have forgotten about as your relationship took on a long-term status: listening.
“Spend some time talking together in a different way,” says Snyder. “One talks, the other just listens. As the listener, see if you can stop yourself as much as possible from merely formulating your own responses. Instead, just listen.”
It may feel a little strange at first to be so intentional about your daily conversations, but that means you’re doing it right, says Snyder. Everyone wants to be heard. And "that strangeness is where all the good stuff happens.”
5. Have silly time together.
Speaking of strangeness, it's super important for people to be able to shoot the sh*t with each other and just kick back and have a goofy grand time. In fact, research shows that couples who laugh together often have happier relationships and stay together for the long haul.
Try to check yourself when you get annoyed with your other half—did they really do something that bugs you, or can you just laugh it off? And poke fun (in a kind, loving way, obvi) at both them and yourself, in order to keep things light. Just like you did during the early days.
6. Stop and notice your S.O.
When you’re dealing with the daily grind, it’s easy to check out and glaze over the person next to you. Sure, you see them every day, but are you really seeing them? Paying more attention to who they are and what they do can help you fall back in love.
“Noticing your partner, complimenting his or her appearance, or making random gestures of appreciation, will make the other feel more attractive and desirable, and likely increase desire,” says Porter. In other words, bring back some of the flirty texts and extra-long stares you shared when you were first dating, and they'll likely do the same.
7. Take turns planning surprise date nights.
Sometimes all it takes to help you reconnect is scheduling a date night—no kids, no friends, just the two of you. To make it more fun, Porter suggests taking turns planning the evenings and keeping the details under wraps.
"Agree that you'll both be totally open to the other’s idea of a date for the evening,” says Porter. That way, you each get to take part in the surprise and get excited about planning something special—and you both get the opp to do something you actually want to do.
Relationships are sort of like ice cream: They're addictive and delicious in the beginning, but eventually, they lose their appeal. That's because when you get used to something good, you tend to take it for granted.
So to fight that, "spend 15 minutes writing down all the ways in which your life has been changed for the better by this person," Gillihan suggests. "Include little things, like 'He did the dishes last night,' as well as bigger ones, like 'She taught me that I'm unconditionally lovable.'"
Reminding yourself of every asset your partner has added to your life will make you appreciate all the time you've had together and feel newly excited about all the good times that are still to come.
If that doesn't give you the heart-eyes emoji feels, you may want to consider that visit to the therapist's couch...
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.