Romance is often the fire that keeps a relationship burning, both physically and emotionally. As our relationships go on, sometimes we can set relationship romance on the back burner. But with a little time and attention, we can boost the romance in our relationship — and have a lot of fun while doing it.
“Cultural idealism aside, romance at its heart is about the desire for affection with your partner, usually through thoughtful gestures that aim to foster togetherness and elicit a positive and loving response,” says Dr. Jacqui Gabb, Professor of Sociology and Intimacy at The Open University.
“In our Enduring Love? study, we found that it was often everyday interactions that were far more appreciated by couples than grandiose gestures,” she adds. “It’s these small, daily romantic gestures that help sustain healthy, loving relationships way beyond Valentine’s Day.”
Romance in a relationship is when two people express and feel intimacy, passion, and affection toward each other. Romance can be expressed in small, simple ways or more exciting, sweeping gestures. Romantic relationships need to be worked at. Sometimes it starts strong but dwindles if efforts aren’t made. Enhancing romance can increase connection, intimacy, and a feeling of being loved and accepted in a relationship.
Romantic love is essential in a relationship because it allows us to feel close, connected, and accepted by our partner. It fosters intimacy and a feeling of togetherness and love. Without romance, a long-term relationship can start to feel stale, boring, or distant.
Bringing back romance to your relationship or enhancing what’s already there is a great way to build intimacy, connection, and strength together.
“Romance isn’t necessarily fancy dates, rose petals, candle lights, or love notes,” says Adam Smithey, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and Certified Gottman Therapist. “Romance can take many forms: a good morning kiss, a random text message in the middle of the day, or bringing your partner’s favorite snack home without them asking.”
Luckily, there are small and big ways to be romantic in your relationship.
“Next time you want to be romantic, think small,” says Smithey. “Ask your partner how their day went and be genuinely curious. Put down your phone, check out of work, turn off Netflix, and turn toward your partner with all your attention.” By taking this time to tune into your partner, you show them that you love and appreciate them, and care about them on a deeper level – leading to more intimacy.
Holding hands, a cuddle or sharing a kiss can be ways to build relationship romance, says Smithey. Physical touch in a relationship doesn’t always mean sex. Even putting your arms around them can be a way to connect and boost romance.
Your partner might think that unloading the dishwasher demonstrates love. Or maybe you think telling your girlfriend that she looks beautiful is enough to make her swoon. But oftentimes, how we want to feel love is different than our partner. Consider learning their love language and taking time to do things that help them feel loved.
Whether it’s making their favorite cup of coffee or asking an open-ended question, small gestures of love often bring back romance in a relationship. These actions might seem simple but they take constant diligence and intention. Being romantic is a way of life, and shouldn’t be contained just for special occasions such as Valentine's Day or an anniversary.
Regular date nights, such as once a month, can enhance the romance in a relationship. Life gets busy, especially if you work a demanding job or have children. But taking time out of your everyday life to be together can enhance the romance and intimacy in your relationship. To keep it budget-friendly, play a board game or try an adventurous date like taking a nature hike.
Being genuine and specific about what you appreciate about your partner can be very romantic. In a card or love letter, email, or even a text, you can describe what you appreciate or admire about them. Try to be specific so it feels genuine and sincere. Whether it’s, “I’m so thankful that you cook dinner on weeknights” or “It’s such a relief for you to handle our taxes,” a simple appreciation can go a long way. These small words of appreciation can help foster emotional intimacy with your romantic partner and boost their self-esteem.
Sometimes, especially on an anniversary or other relationship milestone, it can be invigorating to plan and experience a larger act of romance. Plan a surprise trip, take them on an exciting date, or tackle a home improvement project that’s been on the list for a while. Now and then, these acts of service give us something to look forward to and enhance the excitement in our love lives.
Increasing romance often comes down to the daily intention of emotional connection, ensuring that your partner feels seen, heard, and understood consistently. Incorporating habits each day, such as a kiss every morning, heightens feelings of love and generates a closeness that becomes stronger and stronger. Or download the Paired app and receive daily prompts to connect with your partner.
Whether it’s their birthday or an important work meeting they have, take time to write it down in your calendar. Remember to mention the event or celebrate it. By taking note of what’s happening in their world, you show that you care about your significant other and what’s happening in their life. Good relationships are about trust and reciprocity — so your partner should be returning this effort.
Here’s a life hack: with the Paired app you can mark your relationship milestones (such as your anniversary, engagement, or the day you moved in together) and be reminded when that special date is approaching.
Once the infatuation of early romance has waned, it’s easy to find criticism and displeasure with how our partner does something. Focusing on what they do well is often a more effective perspective. Whether you’re in a group setting or at home, speak fondly of your partner. If you need to vent about something, speak with a trusted friend or your partner.
Dreaming about the future or fun things you’d like to do with your soul mate can help build excitement. It also helps ensure two people are on the same page about what they want.
Think about something your partner would love to get help with, whether a house project or a mundane task like returning an item. Offering to help often makes a partner feel like their needs matter and are important to you.
Reminiscing about a special moment, trip, or activity can bring up fond memories, shared experiences, and well-loved parts of your partner. Whether it’s their sense of humor or sense of adventure, it’s fun to remember what you love so much about them.
While romance isn’t all about your sex life, sex is a key element in a relationship. Talk through what might be going well with your physical intimacy and ways to enhance the flavor. Make sure you both feel safe and secure before the conversation.
Making time for your hobbies, exercise, friends, and personal enjoyment is essential to a balanced, healthy relationship. When we feel refreshed and confident, it can bring more mystery and energy to the relationship. And when we take care of our mental health, it also allows us to be more open and loving toward our partner.
You stay romantic in a relationship by making daily efforts to connect with your partner, engaging in physical touch (not just your sexual relationship), going on dates, practicing their love language, and remembering what’s important to them. By consistently connecting with your partner on an emotional and physical level, you keep the romance alive and ensure they know how much they mean to you.
Heart-shaped chocolates? Horse-drawn carriages and moonlight walks under the stars? Your partner doing the washing up unprompted? Often it’s the small things that really keep our romantic feelings alive.
We all have different perceptions of what romance means, but what does the Paired Community think?