Wanting to feel closer to your partner isn’t automatically a sign that something is wrong in your relationship. Between work, classes, kids, pets, or whatever else you have going on, it’s normal to go through patches where you don’t feel as close as you typically do. The good news? There are plenty of simple ways to reconnect with your partner. Here are seven of them.
“Particularly in long-term relationships, we fall into patterns and routines, and we think we know everything about our partners,” says Holly Richmond, a sex therapist and licensed marriage and family therapist. “This is never the case. People are always changing or evolving, particularly sexually.”
Richmond recommends that you “get curious” with your partner, and the easiest way to do this is to ask questions, such as: Hey, do you want go somewhere new for dinner tonight? Or, How are you feeling about our relationship right now? Is there anything you are really happy with? Anything you want to work on?
Richmond says that the way you ask any question is important. She says that sentences starting with “I want” or “why do you never” could make your partner upset or defensive, whereas curious questions are easier to respond to.
Make a plan.
Richmond says that anticipating something new can bring two people together, and make you feel closer to your partner. “The thing that comes to mind most is planning a trip together,” she says. “Especially if that trip has some level of excitement or novelty, like ziplining, scuba diving, or seeing a new city.”
Richmond says that planning an adventure can really help you feel closer to your partner and reconnect as a couple.
Yep, really. “This is huge for my couples,” Richmond says. “When they come in and say they don’t feel connected, I ask ‘are you still kissing?’ And they look at each other and say ‘oh my god, where did that go?'”
According to Richmond, kissing can foster intimacy and eroticism, and strengthen your connection. “Pecks on the cheek and quick hugs goodbye are what families do, but most couples want to feel closer than that,” she says.
Offer up an act of service.
Think about what makes your partner feel most loved — cooking them dinner? Sticking a post-it note in their bag? Making their morning coffee? Richmond says that doing something thoughtful can go a long way. “For some people, it’s those acts of service that mean so much in a relationship,” she says.
If you’re not sure what would mean the most to your partner, you can figure out their love language. Richmond suggests wording it simply: What makes you feel most loved? What makes you feel most connected to me or closest to me?
Send a quick text.
Jane Greer, a relationship therapist, suggests texting your partner: “I’m looking forward to seeing you tonight!”
“It sends a message that your partner is important to you,” she explains. “You want to connect with them, hold them, feel them, touch them. It’s all about the emotional and physical connection in order to foster intimacy.”
Give them a super specific compliment.
Richmond says that the key here is specificity. Say something like, I love that you’ve been wearing hats more often, they really suit you or Your work outfit yesterday was so stylish.
“[Be] specific in your compliments to really make your partner feel seen,” Richmond explains. “You can get generic with something like ‘you look so nice,’ and after a while that doesn’t feel authentic.”
This doesn’t have to be a sexual touch. In fact, Greer recommends holding hands, or giving your partner a shoulder rub. Again, she says, this helps foster intimacy.
If you’re really struggling to feel close to your partner, Richmond says it may be worth seeking out professional help from a relationship therapist (or a sex therapist if the problem is primarily sexual). It’s nothing to be ashamed about, and can really help couples communicate and reconnect.