Being in a long-term relationship is pretty awesome. No more first-date jitters or awkward parent meetings. But eventually, the brain chemicals responsible for the exciting honeymoon phase fade, turning things ho-hum, says Greg Kuhlman, director of the mental-health counseling program at Brooklyn College.
Welcome news: Experts have found specific (quirky!) ways to get those fun-boosting brain juices flowing again.
1. Kid around.
"What did you do for fun when you were 10 years old?" asks Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. "It's probably something you'd enjoy now." Get into a water-balloon battle or hit an arcade. (Equally enticing? The washboard abs on these sexy leading men.)
But couples who go to baseball games are more likely to remain a pair than those who don't
- Howard Markman, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver
2. Have a foursome.
No, not the key-party variety. A standard double date can remind you why you fell in love.
"When you're with someone all the time, you take that person's positive qualities for granted," says Kathleen Holtz Deal, co-author of Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships. "When you see him with others, you think, 'He's so charismatic."
3. Kick his butt.
The couple that plays paintball together stays together. Penn State researchers report that competitive activities stoke testosterone, the sex-drive hormone.
4. Be his sous chef.
Research shows that women are happier (and, we'd guess, less bloated and more likely to get frisky) when they eat a nutritious meal at home rather than a decadent one out. Ready to heat things up? Try these 11 foods that can enhance your sex life.
5. Hit the ballpark.
Random? Maybe. But couples who go to baseball games are more likely to remain a pair than those who don't, according to Howard Markman, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. Sporting events allow you to "be together in a relaxed setting where it's OK to talk, unlike movies," he says.
6. Engage your fear factor.
At the amusement park, forget the Ferris wheel. A study found that women getting off a roller coaster rated a guy as more attractive than women still waiting in line. An adrenaline rush can produce a reaction (sweaty palms, racing heartbeat) that's similar to initial sexual attraction.
7. Tickle him.
Laughter and sex both release a surge of feel-good hormones and reduce stress hormones, says Chicago-based clinical psychologist Monika Sharma. Combine the two and you might be a step closer to the big O.
"Laughter helps you relax and let your guard down," she says. Just make sure he's in on the giggle game plan so he knows you're laughing with—not at—him.