The harsh reality of long term relationships: Boredom hits.
As time goes by and the relationship’s honeymoon phase recedes further and further in the rearview mirror, it’s likely that the exciting chemistry you and your partner once had just isn’t as present anymore. You might find yourself on autopilot, in a monotonous routine with your partner, and next thing you know, you’re straight up bored.
When a relationship is newer, there tends to be more excitement. You’re experiencing a lot of firsts with your partner, sparks are flying, and you’re having fun. When a relationship is older, it’s common to experience boredom in some aspect of your relationship, whether it’s your day-to-day life at home with your partner, your lack of date nights, your sex life, or all of the above.
Should You Be Concerned About Boredom In A Relationship?
If you’re bored in your current relationship, you definitely aren’t alone. Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW- S, explains, “Boredom is normal. We cannot be happy and celebrating all the time. In the same way, we cannot be active and enjoying every moment with our partner.”
Since this is something that’s pretty normal, you might be wondering if you should be concerned if you’re experiencing a lackluster phase. Luckily, boredom in a relationship isn’t necessarily a glaring red flag. Being bored doesn’t automatically mean that you’re with the wrong partner or that the relationship is doomed and destined to fail.
Being comfortable versus being bored
Take a step back and have a good look at your relationship. Ask yourself this: Are you confusing being comfortable with being bored? Or is the fact that you’re feeling comfortable making you bored? Are you simply missing the way sparks used to fly? Try to pinpoint any specifics that go along with your boredom. What aspects of the relationship are you bored with? Identifying what you don’t like about the current state of your relationship is the first step to changing it.
Ask yourself: Do you want to fix it?
While boredom itself isn’t a red flag, you should be concerned if neither of you really care about doing something to “fix” it. Catchings says, “If we know boredom has knocked on our door, both partners should communicate and create ways to bring back the sparkle.” She adds, “Lack of interest in doing so could indicate that the relationship might be in trouble. At this stage it is important to evaluate the thoughts and behaviors we have towards our partner and the relationship as a whole.”
Oh, and a boring sex life should be something you want to work on doing something about, too. Studies have linked infidelity to sexual boredom; The Normal Bar, the largest scale survey on relationships out there, found that for people who cheated on their partners, boredom was the reason that 71% of men and 49% of women gave in to infidelity.
Ideas To Spruce Things Up
There are definitely ways to beat boredom in a relationship — and they don’t necessarily include spending lots of money or jetting off to somewhere exotic. Simple ways to spruce things up certainly exist. Just because you aren’t experiencing many typical relationship firsts anymore doesn’t mean you can’t try new things together. In fact, it’s all the more reason to get spontaneous. Even doing little things that deviate from your norm can create new couples’ firsts, fresh memories, and most importantly, excitement!
Up the adrenaline and try something adventurous, like taking a surf lesson or trying a new kind of fitness class together. Doing something that’s fresh and gets your heart rate up can ignite a spark and take you back to the times where you and your partner first got each other all worked up. Or, put a new focus on doing a bunch of little things and enjoying the simple pleasures in a different light.
Here are a few easy ideas Catching suggests for couples dealing with boredom:
- Have a “day/night out” every week
- Be creative and decorate a room together
- Prepare a nice dinner at home
- Make a gift for your partner
- Enjoy each other’s company with a glass of wine or iced tea
- Leave Post-Its around the house telling your partner you love him/her/them
- Get a babysitter or family friend to take care of the children and go for a walk or to the movies
- Cuddle on the couch and watch your favorite show or movie — popcorn is a plus!
- Send lunch to your partner’s office with a nice note
- Escape for a weekend to a local or even a more distant B&B
- Breakfast in bed with a loving note
Boredom with your sex life is a whole other aspect, albeit one that can be fixed with some communication, effort, and an open mind. Be honest and straightforward with each other, even though it can definitely be awkward at the beginning.
Here are some tips for combating sexual boredom:
- Tell your partner your biggest turn ons, and ask them to share their biggest turn ons with you
- Share your fantasies with each other
- Watch porn together to get some new ideas
- Send a sexy text or photo to build up some excitement and anticipation
- Ask for what you want in bed
- Have a change of scenery (if you only have sex in the bedroom, try the shower, the living room, or the kitchen counter…bonus points for originality)
- Try out role playing
- Switch up who instigates the sex session
Getting a Professional Involved
Unfortunately, it is possible that your efforts might not work as well as you’d hoped. In this case, it might be time to bring in a professional — and that’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
Catchings says, “Look for a counselor that specializes in couples. Many couples reject the idea or wait too long to do this and when they feel the boat is sinking they want to start the therapy process.” She adds, “Prevention is key and having a professional guiding you, with their expertise and care, could be the best investment you could ever make to save your relationship.”
Ultimately, to get through this rough patch in the relationship, you’re going to have to put in effort. You can’t fight boredom with inaction. You’ll have to work to bring some spark and fun back into your relationship, but it’ll be so worth it.