When you first started dating, your priorities were getting to know each other, having fun and being romantic. But once you drifted out of the honeymoon orbit and reentered the real world, chances are you found that your daily routine, with all its work, house chores and other responsibilities, took over. It’s no wonder that you somehow lost your carefree, fun-loving girlfriend in the process. But here’s how to get her, as well as the fun spirit of your relationship, back for a sequel.

Provide a secure environment

One of the real fun suckers in any relationship is unnecessary stress. This can be due to insecurities or jealousies, which usually boil down to one person not feeling confident in the relationship. Many women feel that they can’t enjoy a committed relationship unless it’s towering with stability, so what’s vital is that you zap those silly stressors by being open and honest with each other. If she feels secure in the relationship, she will let her guard down. That will translate into both of you having more fun.

Get away from each other

Of course, when you first started dating all you wanted was to spend time cocooned together. But life has to go on and now you probably find that, between work and all your other activities, you don't get to spend as much time with each other as you used to. Although your immediate reaction to this realization could be to cram in more time together, don’t let yourselves become glued together at the hip because that’s a surefire way to smother the flame.

To keep it burning for longer, it helps to spend time away from her. Hang out with your friends and let her have time with hers, too. This time apart is important because always being in each other’s space, especially if you live together, can lead to something fun becoming boring. What you want to do is make the time you do spend with your girlfriend as special as possible.

Do something fun every week

Organize a weekly date night and schedule it into your planner so that you make it as important as a business meeting. Note: Spending time together by default (for instance, doing household chores) doesn’t count as quality time.

Make your dates more inventive than the usual dinner and a movie, so that you look forward to them as much as you did at the start of your relationship. Think bonfires on the beach, trips to the zoo, a wine-tasting excursion, or a picnic in your living room. You could also think up some fun activities or hobbies to pursue together, such as trying out a new sport. These will be great bonding experiences and both of you will anticipate the weekly adventure. Having fun in your relationship keeps it alive.

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Go on vacation

Research from the Netherlands found that simply planning a vacation causes a big boost in levels of happiness. The study was published in the Journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life and surveyed happiness levels among over 1530 Dutch adults, 974 of whom went on a holiday during the 32-week study period. The results found that anticipating a vacation led to happiness. So just planning a holiday can bring some excitement to your relationship. Getting away from the routine of daily life is great because you can spend time doing what you love and enjoy quality time without interruptions. There are no stressful family or career issues causing you to miss out on the fun you can have in a fresh environment.

But don’t let the fun stop when you return home. Try to incorporate that carefree feeling into your real life in small ways. For instance, if you enjoyed taking time daily to chat over a glass of wine, try to do that in evenings; likewise, if you both felt rejuvenated at trying new activities during your holiday, consider taking up some classes where you can learn something new together.

Bottom line

Getting your carefree girlfriend back is not about trying to change your girlfriend or backtrack to the honeymoon phase (which isn’t built to last, by the way). Instead, it’s about trying to keep the relationship as enjoyable and exciting as possible, instead of letting yourselves fall into a rut.