In a long-term relationship? Yes, you can still keep romance burning

February 13, 2023


A MakatiMed expert shares ways to break out of a relationship rut

One day you can’t keep your hands off each other, and you’re constantly finishing each other’s sentences; the next, you find once-cute quirks annoying, and you’re both more preoccupied with what’s in your phones rather than what the other has to say. What happened to that intense, heady rush you felt at the beginning of your relationship when the mere presence of a person you couldn’t stop thinking and talking about made you blush and weak in the knees? 

While Hollywood movies condition us to believe that passionate love is forever, science will tell you that the euphoria of a fresh new romance lasts anywhere from six months to two years. “It’s a phase driven by hormones and chemicals in the brain, like dopamine and oxytocin, that trigger attraction, lust, and attachment,” explains Ma. Gia Grace B. Sison, MD, Head of the MakatiMed Wellness Center of the top hospital in the Philippines, Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed). “Eventually, the levels of these feel-good hormones and chemicals taper, the so-called ‘honeymoon period’ is over, and that’s when you see your partner for what he or she truly is.”

Years into a relationship could make you fall into a rut. Suddenly, places and activities that excite you become unexciting and predictable. Respective careers and personal interests can also take your time away from your partner. Longtime couples with kids tend to put romance in the backburner once the responsibilities of raising a family become the top priority.

But just because the honeymoon is over doesn’t mean romance has to end too. “The bottom line is this: Relationships are never static; they grow and evolve the way you and your partner do,” says Dr. Sison. “They also need constant work, so if you want to revive the romance of your early days, you’ll have to be proactive and in it together. Both of you have to want it.” 

The best part? If your relationship has matured through the years, any romantic feelings you rekindle with your mate will no longer be fueled by infatuation but by honest and deep love. 

Communicate. Spend time together—whether on a mid-week date without the kids or an after-dinner stroll in the neighborhood—to talk and listen. “Refrain from touching on topics like home budget or what your children did in school,” suggests Dr. Sison. “Ask each other how your day went. Plan doable goals like getting fit together. Reminisce about your past—when you first met and what you liked about each other. Communication creates connection and intimacy.” 

Try new things. Dine in a restaurant you haven’t been to before. Book yourselves in a place other than your go-to vacation destination. Learn a new skill or hobby together. “Longtime couples are likely to have settled into comfortable, fixed routines,” Dr. Sison points out. “Shake things up occasionally by introducing some novelty into your habits. The shared experience will help bring you closer and give you something to talk about.” 

Surprise each other. Here, you don’t have to spend much money or perform grand gestures to do it. “Slip written sweet notes into their bag, wallet, or pocket. Do a chore that your partner is normally in charge of. Drop by unannounced and pick up your Significant Other from work. The thoughtfulness and unexpected act are enough to make anyone feel giddy and loved,” Dr. Sison advises. 

Schedule sex. Sure, it sounds un-romantic, but if you schedule a few hours of intimacy instead of springing it on your partner, only to be scorned because “they have a headache,” you both have something to look forward to. Haven’t had sex in a while? “How about cuddling?” says Dr. Sison. “It’s still intimate and can even be sweeter.” 

If despite all efforts, things aren’t improving, it’s recommended for couples to seek professional help like a counselor or a therapist. “You can try out individual therapy or marriage counseling. With these interventions, couples can learn healthy ways to communicate and prevent unhealthy habits and patterns, which will eventually help them de-escalate issues in the future and create a more loving relationship,” suggests Dr. Sison.

For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.88888 999, email, or visit Follow @IamMakatiMed on Facebook and Twitter.