8 ways to revive a fading relationship, according to psychology

It’s a horrible situation to be in a relationship that has lost its spark. 

On one hand, you don’t want to be stuck in a boring relationship, but on the other hand, you don’t want to leave because you still love your partner. 

Well, the good news is you don’t have to do either. A fading relationship doesn’t have to mean it’s the end. 

It’s just a signal that it’s time to get creative. Here are 8 ways to give your relationship some CPR, according to psychologists: 

1) Make time to talk

Oftentimes, it’s simply a matter of communication. In long-term relationships, couples tend to let their efforts in connecting diminish. 

Gone are the days when they’d talk on the phone or text for hours. The excitement that comes with making a new connection just isn’t sustainable. 

And that’s perfectly normal. 

However, just because it’s normal doesn’t mean we should just let it be. The couples who last long know that relationships take work, and they’re committed to that. 

So take a page from their book –  make time to bond with your partner, and make that time count. 

That means, don’t just sit together and go, uh-huh, while scrolling on your phone. Be 100% all there, just like you were in the beginning.  

Meghan Prato of Main Line Counselling Partners says:

“Couples need to talk everyday so that they stay connected, but it’s important to be realistic about what is sustainable in the long run. I recommend a daily touch-in, and then a weekly deeper conversation to find out a little more about what’s going on in each other’s lives.” 

2) Schedule date nights

Do you and your partner still do date nights? If not, that could be one reason why the relationship is fading

Look, dates aren’t just for new couples. Just because you’ve been together a while doesn’t mean there’s no point in dating anymore. 

For me and my husband, bringing date nights back breathed new life into our relationship. 

We’re both busy people, and after several years, date nights took more and more of a backseat until they were practically non-existent. 

Our ventures out were almost always related to chores or parenting duties – grocery shopping, errands, coffee runs, Parent Night…

Forget romance – we’d gotten to a point of just being functional.

So we finally decided to bring back date nights. And you know what? It’s so worth the effort! 

According to a report from the National Marriage Project and the Wheatley Institute, couples who have regular date nights have better relationship satisfaction. 

How so? Well, date nights foster stronger relationships in these ways: 

  • Couples have more opportunities to discuss important topics without the distraction of work, children, and other responsibilities 
  • Date nights give the relationship novelty (more on this later)
  • Their sense of romance gets rekindled. Zhuzhing yourselves up and going to romantic and intimate places can do that! 
  • Couples can de-stress from their regular lives and give each other the support they need.
  • Date nights solidify a couple’s sense of commitment to each other.

If that’s not enough to convince you to plan a date with your partner, I don’t know what will!  

3) Revisit the beginning

Ah, the beginning. Your meet-cute. Your heady days of falling in love. That time your partner showed up at your door at 12mn on your birthday with a huge cake and balloons….

You know what I mean – the memories you made during your earlier years. Even the songs that you’d co-opted as yours! 

Revisit those good times. As this study shows, it’s an effective way of breaking out of monotony and getting you looking at your relationship in a romantic light again. 

You can simply start a conversation about those good ol’ days, or actually plan a day that mirrors one of your first dates. 

The goal here is to remember the foundation on which you built  your relationship. And though the scene might not be super sparkly right now, it’s always lovely to see how far you’ve come together. 

It’s just a great reminder that the two of you are capable of getting back to that loving and attentive place.  

That said, don’t just get stuck in the past. Here’s another habit that can bring back the spark between you

4) Try new things together

Because you’ve got to make new memories together. It’s that simple. 

According to the folks at The Center for Marriage & Family Relationships, experiencing new things together keeps a marriage fresh, happy and exciting. 

So go and explore new places. Enroll in classes you’ve never tried before. Play a game you’ve never played before.

The possibilities are endless, so take your pick!

5) Shake things up in the bedroom

easy to miss signs a man is done with the relationship even if he wont admit it 8 ways to revive a fading relationship, according to psychology

Speaking of trying new things, well, sexual intimacy is another area that’s worth upgrading. 

Psychologist and sex therapist Rachel Needle discusses how our sex lives change over time. “Our sexual desire does wax and wane at different times in our lives, but that doesn’t mean it changes for the worse.”

She also states that factors like physical health, stress, anxiety, and relationship quality all affect our sexual response. 

So, with all of these stressors, sex can easily turn from hot to lukewarm (or cold, in extreme cases). 

If that scenario sounds familiar to you, Needle suggests a few ways to spice it up again: 

  • Get into role playing
  • Act out each other’s fantasies
  • Introduce new objects like sex toys or food

Again, the possibilities are endless here, so I hope you have a lot of fun with it!

6) Kiss more often

The thing is, intimacy and affection shouldn’t actually be limited to just the bedroom. 

I don’t know about you, but non-sexual affection really inspires love in me. It’s a major requirement for me. 

In fact, when I got married and my husband started to get a little forgetful with the hugs and kisses, I really got him back “up to par”. 

According to Marriage.com, kissing outside of sex has so many benefits: 

  • It strengthens the emotional connection between partners
  • It releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, which explains why it feels so…yes, so darn good!
  • It expresses desire and attraction, which in turn keeps the romantic spark alive

7) Express your gratitude daily

Another habit that boosts emotional connection is expressing gratitude and appreciation.

Sadly, this is yet another habit that often tends to drop off after a while. We tend to take our partners for granted, sometimes we don’t even notice the nice things they do for us anymore. 

Psychology and neuroscience professor Sara Algoe carried out a study in which participants made a plan to express gratitude to their partner when they felt it. 

The funny thing was, just making the plan alone was enough to create a positive result. People realized just how much they appreciated their partner for the little things they did. 

And ultimately, they ended up spending more time with their partners. Gratitude drew them closer to each other. 

All of that to say, keeping your eyes open and appreciating your partner can be enough to put your relationship in a new light. 

8) Let go of old grudges and resentment

I once watched a reel (unfortunately, I don’t remember the creator’s name, sorry!) that talked about how in a relationship, there are little micro-offenses that we brush off. 

But these little disappointments dull the sheen of the relationship little by little until suddenly (but not really suddenly, if you know what I mean), the spark is gone and the thought of your partner doesn’t excite you anymore. 

It made a lot of sense to me because I know from experience how true that can be. Until I learned the art of forgiveness, I had my own little pile of little disappointments, and my husband had his, too. 

True enough, according to The Gottman Institute, “The number one thing that prevents couples from building trust and emotional attunement is the inability to bounce back from a conflict in a healthy way.”

If there’s one thing I’d like to leave you with, it’s this reminder by Ruth Bell Graham – “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”

If there’s anything still weighing on your heart after you’ve talked it out, let it go. It’s just getting in the way of relationship renewal. 

Final thoughts

Loving someone doesn’t mean the level of romance and attraction will be on the same level all throughout. It’s normal to have highs and lows, and it’s very rare for couples to still have the same intense feelings they had in the beginning. 

At the core of it, reviving a fading relationship means reestablishing emotional connection. And that takes effort from both sides. Hopefully, this list has given you some ideas on how to handle it.

If all else fails, don’t be afraid to seek help. There are lots of counselors and therapists who can help you with new perspectives and strategies you might not have considered. 

Picture of Roselle Umlas

Roselle Umlas

I am a freelance writer with a lifelong interest in helping people become more reflective and self-aware so that they can communicate better and enjoy meaningful relationships.

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