This year saw the nation gripped by the steamy goings-on in the TV reality show Love Island but, for those of us happily settled in long-term relationships or even recently coupled up, how do you keep the excitement going for longer than seven weeks in Majorca?
Assuming you want your relationship to be more of a marathon than a sprint, here are some tips you could try.
It’s easy to let passion slide when you’re working hard to pay the bills and keep a roof over your head. In the early, heady stages of a relationship, everything is new and exciting. Each new thing you discover about your partner is a source of wonderment. He can dismantle a car engine! He can cook Eggs Benedict. He knows how to put a wet towel on a towel rail!
Once, however, you’ve settled down into a routine and the novelty has worn off, those little things you found so wonderful might start to grate a bit. I once had a boyfriend who loved to take vintage cars apart and had a Mark II Jaguar carburettor as a doorstop in his bedroom. Trust me, these hurt when you stub your toe on them in the dark.
So, how can you make passion last?
How to stay on your own Love Island
Maintain Your Personal Space
As the oft-cited excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s poem The Prophet goes:
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music”.
Gibran was clearly a man who understood the importance of having a shed.
Don’t let your need for intimacy result in you both merging together completely so you wander around in his ‘n’ her sweatshirts whilst finishing each other’s sentences.
Hold on to your own life and the person you were before the relationship. After all, that’s who your partner fell in love with, isn’t it? Giving up your friends and hobbies will make you resentful.
Try to keep a little mystery too – in our house toilet doors stay shut!
Keep Hold Of Your Own Dreams
Once in a relationship, our plans tend to encompass, understandably, our significant other and our family. It’s also good, though, to keep hold of your dreams – the things YOU want to achieve as an individual – whether it’s writing that novel, starting your own design business or travelling to the places at the top of your travel bucket list possibly on your own.
I think this is particularly important for women and pursuing your own goals whether coupled up or not is certainly something I will be encouraging Caitlin to do when she’s older.
Protect Your Health & Beauty Routines
It’s very easy to let everything slide, isn’t it – especially once you’ve had kids and figure there isn’t anything let for your partner to see once he’s been with you in the birthing suite.
You don’t want to be too high maintenance of course but those girls on Love Island clearly have no qualms about ensuring their tans are topped up (fake I’m hoping), everything’s plucked and their summer wardrobes are glamorous and co-ordinated. Apparently just putting on a lighter weight t-shirt with your black leggings doesn’t cut it.
Just taking time out to paint your nails and pluck your eyebrows each week might make a difference to how you feel. Body confidence is so important too. Work to maintain the best weight for you and don’t let anyone put you off from wearing what you love – because that’s when you’ll look happiest and your personality will shine through.
Revamp Date Night
The idea of a ‘date night‘ has become a bit of a cliche but time alone with your partner, particularly if you have kids, is really important. Studies show that long-term couples who take part in ‘expanding activities’ which create new experiences and teach new skills, like a dance class, concert or skiing, are more likely to feel excited by their relationship than couples who always do the same thing.
Put your date night in your diaries and then take turns to choose an activity or location. Keep it secret too because the anticipation will help keep your relationship fresh and edgy.
Make Time For Intimate Time
Be realistic. Spontaneity is quite a rare thing for most of us and you may have to schedule ‘intimate time’. I’m not suggesting you stick it in your Google calendar (particularly if there’s a risk of accidentally syncing with your company’s calendar), nor creating a chart with stickers and achievement awards on the fridge – although if that works for you, go for it. Why not write little love notes with paragraphs for your crush and hide them under their pillow? After all, that’s what your partner used to be, right?
Don’t Let Disagreements Fester
Equally important is making sure that problems are talked about and those things that irritate the heck out of you are mentioned. If your partner doesn’t know that leaving nail clippings on the floor is likely to render you incandescent with rage, he will keep doing it.
From the questions I receive on my problem page, not phoning or texting enough (or too much), never offering to pay for a meal and being mean with compliments are all flashpoints.
Ignore your age
Seriously. Love, romance and desire are not the property of the young. They may be glossier, their teeth may be whiter but desire starts in the brain and those extra years on the clock will give you a definite head start with that.