Whether you’re single and ready to mingle, in a relationship that has its normal ups and downs, or in a marriage that borders on “roommate” territory from time to time, you probably see that there could be some improvement in your love life. Don’t be discouraged — even the best relationships and the happiest daters could always get better in the game of love.
But romantics, rejoice! – you don’t have to have time for long walks on the beach or the energy to produce a rom-com-worthy grand romantic gesture to get the relationship you want (does anyone have that kind of time or energy???).
Here are 12 things you can do today, this week, or this month to immediately improve your love life. Since relationships are not one-size-fits-all like a pair of Barefoot Dreams socks (just a side note, as I’m wearing them right now, and they are so cozy, I quite literally cannot get them off my brain), select the hacks that are right for you and try them out. In no time, you’ll have the relationship that fits you like a glove (or, you know, like a pair of really cozy socks).
1. Send a supportive text to your partner
If you’re in a LTR, your iMessage chain might look something like, “Can you pick up almond milk on your way home?” “Meeting ran long. going to be 15 minutes late” and “Have you seen my white sneakers? Can’t find them anywhere…” Ah, the joys of going through everyday drudgeries with your significant other! But letting your partner know you’re thinking of them throughout the day can improve the support and “teammate” mentality in your relationship. Try “good luck at the meeting!” or “how’d the presentation go?” to let your partner know you care and to be a part of even their minor victories and downfalls.
2. Break a sweat together
If you’re newly dating, forego the usual coffee date or dinner and a movie for a sunset hike or a new boxing class. Not only will it show off your oh-so-attractive adventurous side, but exercise will release feel-good endorphins that make you happy while you’re together, bringing you closer. No matter how long or little you’ve been dating, working out with your significant other can actually increase romantic attraction.
3. Make eye contact
As silly and simple as it sounds, you can build trust and establish positive feelings just by looking someone in the eye. Make it a habit to put your phone down, take your eyes off your Instagram Story scroll, and look your partner in the eyes when asking them a question or listening to what they’re saying. If you’re currently looking for a partner, you should also be mindful about eye contact — it’s a potential sign of attraction, so keeping eye contact subconsciously shows another person that you’re interested.
4. Try cognitive reappraisal
The OG love life hack, called “The Marriage Hack,” became a viral sensation for a reason. Essentially, this emotional reappraisal (or “Marriage Hack”) means viewing conflicts and disagreements through the eyes of a third party who wants the best for all involved and realizing the obstacles each person faces when trying to think from a different perspective. It lessens the emotions of a situation by reframing it in a way that allows you to not only understand your partner but how to solve the problem – it’s like DIY couples therapy! Eli Finkel, a professor of psychology at Northwestern, argues that doing a cognitive reappraisal exercise just once a year can sustain quality in your relationship.
5. Do your own thing, and be passionate about your life
Let’s be honest. Regardless of how much we focus on the way we look, a well done smokey eye and a good hair day can only do so much. It sounds like a paragraph from a self-help book, but it’s the truth – confidence will always be more attractive than physical appearance. If you’re looking for a partner, first be confident about your life without one.
When you do find someone worth foregoing your singledom for, make sure you keep up your own friendships, hobbies, and interests apart from your partner. Depending on your significant other for everything is not a healthy relationship. Have a Carrie Bradshaw moment and think about whether or not you spend too much time with your significant other (or are too co-dependent). Schedule drinks with your girlfriend, take a painting class, read a book for your career, or pick back up your scrapbooking hobby. Bonus: spending time apart might help to build up energy and excitement for your relationship (and don’t you want something new to talk about??).
6. Use the countdown rule to make decisions
You know those nights where you and your partner cannot agree on a restaurant to eat at, and it causes a fight because one or both of you got hangry? Or how picking a movie feels as difficult as choosing a paint color for your walls? If you and your partner struggle with making small decisions together, ease the tension and prevent the argument by using the countdown rule, 5-3-1. One person selects five options, and from there the other person narrows it down to three, and so on.
7. Create a “hello” and “goodbye” ritual
Parting ways – leaving for work, heading to the grocery store, going on a business trip – is just a daily occurrence. But that simple, daily moment is extremely important. It can be quick, meaningless, and full of spilled-over tension from workday stress, OR it can be the best 60 seconds of your day. No matter what’s going on, create a ritual when you greet each other and when you say goodbye that signals closeness. Give a hug or kiss (or both!), and ask “how was your day?” or say “I’ll miss you!” before they leave. And here’s the key: mean it. Don’t let your ritual become routine – put meaning into your actions and use every “hello” and “goodbye” as a way to feel closer.
8. Say “Thank You”
Gratitude is arguably the most important trait of happy couples. Gratitude is not necessarily profound or new (Oprah has had people journaling their gratitude for years!), but it can make all the difference in your love life. To feel more gratitude, write out a list of some things your partner has done to invest in the relationship, or to make your life better, whether it’s a compliment, a surprise, or a chore they did not need to do but did. To allow your partner to feel appreciated, express a random “thank you” when they don’t expect it.
9. Listen to music
Haven’t you had those moments where your mood totally changes based on the music you listen to? The right playlist can truly take your everyday life into rom-com territory (the soundtrack to Father of the Bride will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love, guaranteed). Play some music that puts you in the mood for love (or just “in the mood” – that improves your love life too!) on your commute home, while making dinner, or in the background while you work. Whether it’s the song you danced to at your wedding or your favorite love song playlist (I’m partial to The Everygirl Date Night playlist), music is the quickest way to make you feel more loving towards your partner.
10. Schedule couple time
Take quality time off of your to-do list (where it will never happen) and onto your calendar. If you don’t have time for a date night out with your busy schedule, look ahead at the week and figure out different times you can have short intervals of quality time together – get coffee before work, do your daily workouts together instead of separate (see #2), or have a glass of wine after the kids go to bed one night. Scheduling quality time might not feel romantic, but spending alone time together is too important to leave up to spontaneity.
11. Hold hands
No matter your love language, physical touch has been proven to boost closeness between two people; a study found that holding hands actually causes relational-cognitive changes and neurobiological changes. In less science-y words, holding hands can improve your confidence in your partner’s love and support for you and improves overall closeness of the relationship. Think of hand-holding as an immediate means to grow closer. If you’re not a fan of PDA, hold hands in the car, on the couch while bingeing Game of Thrones, or under the table when dining out (bonus points for sneakiness!).
12. Write out relationship doubts and insecurities
If your insecurities have you thinking negatively on your love life (whether you’re single or in an LTR), write down the immediate thought, and then what your logic tells you is the truth. For example, if your partner doesn’t call when they say they will, your immediate thought might be to blame a permanent character flaw (“They’re too selfish to think of me”) or reason into self-doubt (“They forgot about me because they don’t love me enough”). Then, think of the actual logical explanation (“It’s an unusually busy day at work, so they didn’t have time to call”). Writing down thoughts will allow you to notice and change unhealthy thought patterns. Logic your way out of illogical reasoning, and don’t jump to negative conclusions in your love life.