There’s no doubt about it: The very beginning of any romantic relationship is the best. It’s filled with so much excitement, desire, and intrigue.
But after a few months or years, you might start to think there’s nothing you don’t know about your boo. You've memorized how he chews his food, and you even know how much time he spends locked in the bathroom. Luckily, there are still ways you recreate the mystery you found so damn sexy in the early days of your courtship—no matter how long you’ve been together.
1. Surprise Each Other
Think back to the activities you did when you first met. Day drinking at the beach? Playing hooky from work? Those were the moments that made you fall in love, so you best believe that spark will reignite once you recreate some of those memories. Try surprising your partner at an odd time—for example, meeting him for lunch in the middle of the workday. “Little surprises count, too, like doing romantic things for no reason at all,” says Grant Brenner, M.D., a Manhattan-based psychiatrist. “That could mean making breakfast for her in bed one morning or a delicious dessert in the evening.”
2. Switch Off Who Plans Dates
Throw gender stereotyping out the window and alternate who calls the shots. “This isn’t a chance to be passive-aggressive by ‘making’ the other person do something you think will be ‘good for them,’ or something you want to do that they ‘never let you do’" says Brenner. "This should be a fun adventure.” If you’re at a loss for good ideas, poll trusted friends or family members. They may be able to help you think outside of the box and come up with something you’ll both love, but never would have thought of on your own.
3. Share Your Deepest Sexual Fantasies
No matter how many years you two have been getting down and dirty, your partner probably still wants to impress you in the bedroom. “You can’t be upset that your partner doesn’t change up his or her technique if you’re not vocal about what you want and expect,” says Brenner. “If there’s a certain scenario or role-playing technique you’d like to play out, let him know. This gives him a chance to surprise you later or at an unexpected time by playing out those fantasies with you.”
4. Change Up Your Routine
Don’t get us wrong—creating a routine is a healthy aspect of any relationship. But, as the saying goes, everything in moderation. “While it’s great to have go-to activities, excessive routines (i.e. movie nights every Friday or Netflix and nachos on Sundays) can lead to boredom, which is the opposite of mystery,” says Brenner. This could be as simple as choosing a different restaurant, neighborhood, or type of entertainment to explore. “It doesn’t always have to be amazing, but if you both approach it with the spirit of curiosity and mix up novelty with tried-and-true experiences you know you both always enjoy, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much fun you can have,” says Brenner.
5. Don’t Get Too Complacent
It’s great to feel comfortable with your partner, but when we stop caring about what the other person thinks of us, that can be problematic, says Rudi Rahbar, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist who specializes in couples and families. That's not to say you need to wear makeup on every date with bae. But when it comes to your Aunt Flo-stained undies and weekly upper lip bleaching routine, an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality has its merits.
6. Learn Their Bucket List and Make It Happen
Maybe it’s as specific as scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, or something more general like learning how to cook. “Sign up for cooking classes or salsa lessons and surprise them with the opportunity,” says Brenner. “You’ll be surprised by how much your partner appreciates the thought and care that went into these plans.” If bucket-list type things are not your cup of tea, narrow down the list to things you can do at home or even locally. That could mean wearing some fun lingerie when he or she comes home—or surprising him with tickets to one of his all-time favorite bands.
7. Spend the Right Amount of Time Apart
"It’s important to have individual time to energize oneself and bring something new to the table for the other person,” says Brenner. “In order to have a healthy, happy relationship, you both need significant amounts of time to pursue individual activities, both work and personal, including outside friendships.” Just don't stretch yourself too thin.