Thoughtful ways to be more romantic

Simple romantic gestures can help break through the routine that sometimes make relationships seem a little less beautiful than they seem, regardless of how long you’ve been together—six months, six years, or more than six decades.

Additionally, although movies like When Harry Met Sally and Love Actually might provide inspiration for being sweet, real life doesn’t necessarily require chocolates and roses.

We therefore looked to the experts for some guidance on how to genuinely be more romantic (without, you know, a rom-com budget).

According to Arthur Aron, PhD-a psychology professor at Stony Brook University who’s dedicated his life’s work to researching love and closeness-the formula for becoming more romantic involves kindness, attention, and a mix of shared activities.

It’s also found in open conversation, which he encourages with “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love,” his New York Times-approved list of queries everyone should answer with their special someone. Questions range from “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” to “How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Thoughtful ways to be more romantic

“It is possible to have a really high sense of passion and romance, even in a long-term relationship,” Aron says.

However, all the suggestions in the world won’t help if you don’t first turn a critical eye on yourself. At least, that’s the philosophy of Peter Pearson, PhD, a relationship expert who co-founded the California-based Couples Institute, which trains therapists to improve the joint lives of couples.

Pearsons insists individuals reflect on why their relationship is important before considering the union they’re hoping to create and what their goals are. “This will give you and your partner the motivation to do the work that will be necessary to reach that target,” Pearson says.

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With that in mind, consider the following advice for being more romantic a starting point for meeting the needs of you and your partner.

First, put in the work-for yourself

Before giving your partner attention, Aron suggests taking stock of yourself. “A happy person will make their partner happy, too,” he says. Look within, and ask yourself whether you’re dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem that should be addressed-or if your communication skills allow you to hear and be responsive to your partner’s needs.

Plan a fun activity once a week

Way past the honeymoon phase? An easy method toward rekindling the flame is to try something new together. You don’t have to partake in a thrill sport like skydiving, but simple pastimes like trying a new cuisine or taking a cooking class can increase passion. As a result, you’ll learn to associate thrill and excitement with your partner, says Aron.

Celebrate even the smallest successes

Let your partner know their achievements are worth commemorating when something good (like a promotion, or a wave of luck) happens to them. “That has a more positive effect than just supporting them during periods of hardships,” Aron notes. To do so, plan a special homemade dinner or write them a card as a way of shouting your excitement from the mountaintops.

Revisit-or get to writing-those vows

Pearson encourages couples to reread or write new vows as a way of remembering the qualities that brought you together in the first place. If you’re not married, he suggests putting pen to paper. “Those vows are better than any tips any expert can give them,” Pearson says.

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Think of creative new points of conversation

Date nights aren’t so special if they’re spent discussing work, politics, or the mundanities of everyday life. Instead, Pearson urges couples to switch things up by asking unexpected questions. For example, ask what your partner thinks about (other than work) during their daily commute, or what quality of yours they appreciate the most, so you can express it more often. Even childlike queries like, “What superhero power would you love to have?” work well. Then, ask what they’d be willing to give up to attain that power.

Befriend other couples

This may sound taxing, but cultivating warm and intimate friendships with other pairs can bring you closer, Aron says. Doing so will foster the feeling of mutual support and open you up to engage in deeper conversations the two of you may not have had on your own.

Regularly tell your partner what you love about them

It doesn’t cost anything to be thankful-and expressing gratitude for someone shows that you notice and appreciate their efforts. Do you appreciate their compassionate nature, or perhaps you love their energetic approach to the start of every day? Be specific with what qualities you value to most to indicate you’re paying close attention. Ultimately, small efforts to show recognition will make your partner feel seen.

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