Boredom in long-term relationships
All relationships go through different phases. When getting to know each other and at the beginning of the relationship, everything is often very exciting; the hormones set the brain into a rush-like state. A few years later, however, after the relationship is solidified and the couple knows each other well, many couples notice that habit and routine increasingly dominate everyday life. This may be okay for some couples, but others feel a certain boredom setting in. Therefore, after a while in long-term relationships, many couples ask themselves: What can we do about boredom in the relationship?
I interviewed 19 relationship experts on this question. The advice they give is very solid. After all, it is based on years of expertise from countless couples therapies and relationship coaching sessions, as well as the academic expertise of couples therapists, relationship coaches and psychologists.
So here you'll find the 19 tips experts give you when you're bored in your relationship:
1. Jörg Berger, 1. Jörg Berger, Psychological Psychotherapist & Couples Therapist, - epaartherapie.de
"Honesty: it generates new ideas".
"Honesty - that is the best remedy against boredom. Of course, don't just mindlessly say everything you think, but tactfully open your heart - even if that challenges the other person. That surprises. It gives you new ideas. And by the way, it's good for your love life, as Michael Lukas Möller wrote: "After all, what is the most effective aphrodisiac?? Everyone knows it, no one dares to express the insight: the lively couple." (from: Die Wahrheit beginnt zu zweit, p. 113)"
2. Dr. Tracy Dalgleish: Couples Therapist & clinical Psychologist, - drtracyd.com
"Find a way to bring back playfulness into your relationship”
"Find a way to bring back playfulness into your relationship. Play is entering the state of flow, which means there is no goal or destination to reach to, but rather to be fully immersed in the moment to moment experience. Play will look different for each person, but it may include playing a '90's playlist and trying to guess the song, dancing together in the kitchen in between dishes, exploring a new trail hike, trying a new recipe or having a shower together."
3. Hendrick Weiß, Couples therapists & HP Psychotherapy*- eft-paartherapie-hannover.de
"Change negative patterns into safety and playfulness"
- "If we are bored in our love relationship we are not in love. Being in love (= oxytocin and other hormones), ensures that the habituation phenomenon does not occur and this prevents boredom.
- If we are not in love, it means that a negative pattern has developed between us.
- The pattern is everywhere, in small things, in big things, and of course, in our sexuality. (Here you can find a TED Talk by Sue Johnson on the topic).
- No one is to blame, we have unfortunately used behavior, what was once adaptive, unfortunately now maladaptive (Find a book recommendation on this topic here).
- Other measures to kill boredom are regrettably just symptom management, and thus unsustainable.
- Credits Sue Johnson."
4. Eric Hegemann, Couples Therapist, HP Psychotherapy*, Singles Coach, Author, Founder Modern Love School, eric-hegmann.de
"Investigate your boredom like a detective."
"Boredom invites the question, "What would I rather be doing?" Investigate your boredom like a detective: What is it trying to tell me? : What is it trying to tell me? What is the need behind it? What is the story behind this need? Where does this story come from?
In practice, I also often encounter a change in the perception of the partner: at first he:she gave a lot of peace and grounding through her manner, but after a few years this feels boring. Therefore, also check what has changed in you. If you criticize your partner for behaving the way he:she did when you fell in love, you are indirectly saying, "I no longer accept you as you are."
What I want to warn against: trying to regulate your self-perceived boredom through your partner. He or she is not responsible for your boredom, you alone are."
5. Dr. Wolfgang Krüger, Psychotherapist, dr-wolfgang-krueger.de
“A good balance of closeness and autonomy is important.”
"First of all, it is the task of each individual to realize his or her life goals and thus also to carry exciting ideas into a romantic relationship. Jointly coping with everyday life, which soon becomes routine, is not at all sufficient for this. Sometimes I say in lectures somewhat pointedly: "If two deadheads are together, a real liveliness can never develop." In addition, it is also important that there is a good balance of closeness and autonomy. Because we keep the longing in a partnership only if the other is not always available, because he takes care of his hobbies and friendships. And on this basis, an exciting, tingling closeness should then arise again and again. It only gets boring when two people don't wrestle with each other, don't get out of each other's way, don't argue anymore and only stay together because they are afraid of separating.
These insights can be found above all in my book 'Wie die Liebe gelingt..."
6. Vera Matt, Couples Therapist & HP Psychotherapy*, paartherapeut-in.de
"Boredom is your own feeling, for which you have to take responsibility for yourself."
"Boredom in the relationship? Is that even possible? If it concerns you, then you must be clear, you are a part of this boring relationship. If you find your own relationship boring, then boredom is your own feeling, for which you have to take responsibility for yourself.
Maybe you hope that your partner will bring vibrancy and excitement into the relationship. Maybe you expect to be entertained.
Don't be a Barbie who makes herself comfortable in her sterile plastic world and waits for someone to play with her.
Invent your own new and exciting games, set clear priorities in your life and have fun in your relationship in everything you do.
Then you can't be bored at all, because your life is always exciting. You can only find your relationship "boring" if you yourself are not entertaining."
7. Sophie Lauenroth, Psychologist, psychologinsophie.com
"With the help of open communication about (sexual) needs, both parties can find out if there are things that would be interesting for both of them and that they both want to try".
"My ultimate tip against boredom in a relationship is open communication. In the course of a relationship, many things change. The needs that were important at the beginning of the relationship may not be the first priority after a few years. Instead, other things come to the foreground that are now important. If couples don't communicate openly about their ideas in the relationship, dissatisfaction can quickly set in. The sexual part, in particular, is important and requires constant communication. It is normal for couples to not have sex as often after many years as they did in the beginning. With the help of open communication about sexual needs, both parties can find out if there are things that would be interesting for both of them and that they both want to try. Of course, this does not only apply to sexual matters, but also to other aspects of the relationship, such as leisure activities. It is also important that both parties have time for themselves to do what they like to do, but at the same time there is time to experience something together. So be open to new things and address things directly."
8. Prof. Dr. Thomas Götz, Psychologist, bildung-psy.univie.thomas-goetz
"It is always advisable from a scientific perspective to find out the causes of boredom in a first step."
"Boredom can have many different causes. In this respect, it is always advisable from a scientific perspective to find out the causes of boredom in a first step (e.g. monotony, lack of fit in interests and/or talents, lack of meaning, causes lying in oneself or in the interaction, etc.). Based on appropriate findings, work can then be done to reduce boredom by modifying the causes."
9. Nina Deißler, Relationship Coach & author, ninadeissler.de
"Question games can reveal unknown sides of the partner, but also bring out new ideas and previously unexpressed wishes and needs."
A relationship is like a garden: it wants to be tended so that it is beautiful. But what if you know every flower and every blade of grass in your garden?
Then it would be time to plant something new...!
A nice idea for the beginning are question games (there are countless card sets in the trade), with which you talk about topics that usually do not occur in everyday life. This can reveal unknown sides of the partner, but also bring out new ideas and previously unexpressed wishes and needs.
A new joint project connects and unites - it doesn't always have to be children or building a house... It can also be exciting to attend a personal development workshop together, which often brings a breath of fresh air and new thoughts.
10. Dr. Sandra Gerstorf, Psychologist & Couples Therapist, einxzwei-paartherapie.de
"Create a pattern interruption!"
My best tip is: create a pattern interruption!
"Make a set couple date once a week (preferably during the day, such as an extended lunch break) and during that time do something you've never done before: go to a part of town you've never been to and take a walk, go to a restaurant you'd never normally go to and eat there, go to the pool hall together, or go to a movie you'd never pick out.
Don't talk, act in new and different ways."
11. Anouk Algermissen, Psychologist & Couples Therapist, paartherapiebonn.com
"You should take the time to really ask yourself when the relationship felt different and what was behind it."
I would advise the couple to recall the times they experienced as exciting in their relationship.
Then you can ask yourself the following questions:
- What was different then?
- What did we do together and what feelings did that evoke?
- What exactly was fun and adventurous about that time? Was it, for example, trying something new together every now and then? Or was it that you told more about yourself and your experiences? Or was it rather that you simply took time for each other?
Once you have answered these questions for yourself, you can derive activities and ideas from them. After all, the antidote to boredom is not the same for everyone. This means that you should take the time to really ask yourself when the relationship felt different and what was behind it.
12. Fe Robinson, Psychotherapist working with individuals and couples, ferobinsonpsychotherapy.co.uk
“Adopt a ‘beginner’s mind.’ Approach each interaction and activity as if you have never done them before.”
"Boredom comes from sameness and familiarity. An invigorating approach to relational boredom can be to adopt a ‘beginner’s mind.’ Approach each interaction and activity as if you have never done them before. Notice the sights, sounds, sensations and feelings that arise if you have a curious attitude. What do you notice that’s engaging about this moment? Just looking at your partner with an open, curious mind can bring deeper connection. Spending time in mutual gazing and looking as if you have never seen before can be potent, because you have literally not seen before, each moment is unique."
13. Alexandra Scoleri, psychotherapist & couples therapist, founder Springclinic, springclinic.com
"Reports of boredom in relationships often come after long periods of disconnection. So often, couples who are conflict avoidant speak of ‘loosing the spark’ and becoming ‘roommates’. Healthy conflict is the meeting of two opposing perspectives which when discussed respectfully and with care, leads to a deeper understanding of self and other. If you are feeling bored in your relationship, it might be time to ask yourself what needs and desires you are not sharing out of fear of conflict. The next step may be finding a therapist or accessing resources to support you in having challenging conversations in a productive and reparative manner.
When done well, the tension held between two different people with two different perspectives is the friction necessary for a flame to ignite in an intimate relationship."
14. Anna Holfeld, Couples Therapist & *HP Psychotherapy, annaholfeld.de
"What am I grateful towards you for?"
Anna Holfeld recommends question cards that can bring up new questions for couples, such as this card from her question card box "Paarbox":
Sit across from each other. Look at each other.
What am I grateful towards you for? For the way you help me in everyday life or how you always reconcile with me? Whatever comes to your mind - choose ten examples. Then take turns sharing what you are grateful for.
You start? Then complete the sentence, "I am grateful to you for..." Now switch and "I am grateful to you for..." - your favorite person completes this sentence for you.
Look into each other's eyes, speak slowly and listen carefully. Pauses are okay. Continue like this."
15. Dr. Eman Tadros, Psychotherapist, LMFT Directory/etadros
"Boredom in a relationship is common."
"Boredom in a relationship is common. It's not appropriate to place the expectation that your partner should always entertain you. The best way to not become 'bored' of your relationship is to have your own friends, hobbies, interests, and goals. This way, you do not place the responsibility on your partner to be your 'everything.'"
16. Marleen Theißen, Couples Therapist & Coach, marleentheissen.de
"You can always discover something new."
"Being in a relationship means making the decision every day to share and build a meaningful life together''. This decision, usually subconscious, makes even long-term relationships fragile, although they are sometimes experienced as boring. To keep a relationship alive requires awareness, understanding and curiosity for oneself as well as for the other person. A partner can still be a mystery to you, even if you have known him or her for years. You can always discover something new. If you accept that instead of resisting it, you can always fall in love again."
17. Suvarna Khaparde-Varde, milaapcounselling.com, psychologist & relationship counselor
“Excitement won't just happen. You have to make it happen.”
Most long-term couples get into a set pattern which is comfortable for both and the routine then makes things boring.
I often give this tip to my clients -
Be curious about your partner and find ways to have fun together! As simple as learning a new skill together! Excitement won't just happen. You have to make it happen.
With age, new experiences and time there are going to be changes in both of you, try to understand those. Search for newness in your old partner. You will find plenty of it!
Treating your relationship like you did in the beginning, is the secret recipe to making love last and fight the boredom.
18. Dr. Ilka Hoffmann-Bisinger, Psychologist, Couples Therapist & Psychotherapist, Institute Director iska Berlin, iska-berlin.de
"The "trick" is: to take responsibility for your own aliveness."
"When long-term couples get bored with each other in their relationship, they usually also get bored with themselves. If one's own life has become routine, we no longer experience many things consciously and vice versa: If we no longer go through life awake, open and curious, everyday life becomes a boring habit. We are lived. Our own liveliness gets lost and is therefore also missing in the couple relationship. In case of boredom with the partner, it helps first of all to think about: "How and where can I get excited about my own life again? What am I missing? Which parts of myself do I not yet live or no longer live? Am I also in contact with my*partner* about what excites me?" The "trick" is: to take responsibility for your own aliveness instead of handing it over to your partner and to be in contact with each other."
19. Patricia Russu, Relationship Coach & Couples Counselor, patricia-russu.de
"Be authentic and share your truth with each other."
"Be authentic and share your truth with each other, whatever you think and feel must be said. Any secrecy prevents liveliness. If you are not completely honest, you may have fewer conflicts, but also more irrelevant conversations and in the end a long time."
After the experts' opinions, it's your turn:
- Which of the ideas is exciting for you?
- What made you curious?
- Which of the ideas would you like to implement?
Pick 1-3 ideas, and then discuss with your partner how you can implement these ideas. What is the first small step you can take together to work on the topic?
Summary of boredom in the relationship
In this article you have learned that there are several ways to deal with boredom in a relationship. Understanding the causes more deeply, as well as making your life exciting and trying new things are just some of the tips. Hope you got something for yourself out of the ideas!
HP Psychotherapy = alternative practitioner of psychotherapy (german: Heilpraktiker der Psychotherapie)