Act Single, Be Happier Together

We know the clichés are misleading. Caricatures of singles as TV-dinner gobbling poster children of loneliness and desperation just don’t add up when we see the satisfying sex lives and full social calendars of singles around us. They go out more, enjoy more varied activities and seem to live generally more spontaneous lives. It’s even worse when your own relationship has reached that stalling point – you know, the one when the life expectancy of your favorite dancing shoes yawns on for years and the remote control’s batteries can’t outlast the month. What if singles know something the love-bound don’t when it comes to keeping love new and exciting? Maybe the secret to infusing your relationship with a little fire and staying happy as a couple is to act more single.

Go out with friends
Looking back longingly on Friday nights out with friends? There’s no reason to give that up just because you’re in love. Including your friends in your activities can be healthy for your friendships and help bring some new energy to your relationship. Expand your social circles to include each other’s friends and see what new dynamics can bring to how you interact with one another. That’s not to say that all your friend nights should include your significant other! Time alone with your friends, and alone with your partner, are equally important to keeping your relationships healthy and your emotional life balanced.

When you first got together, you couldn’t say enough about your perfect mate. But these days you figure your partner knows how you feel, and you spend a little less time on compliments and a little more on constructive criticism. It’s important to keep verbalizing your positive feelings. Even though your S.O. may be completely secure in your relationship, people need to be reminded of why they are special. Singing his or her praises to your friends once in a while doesn’t hurt either. Gushing about a loved one reminds you of what you have and helps you cherish it even as the throes of infatuation make way for a deeper, more comfortable connection. Better yet, combine the two: compliment your loved one in front of your friends to make him or her feel publicly and privately appreciated.

Set the mood
Just because it’s a night in doesn’t mean it has to be ordinary. It’s hard to say when a TV and a pizza became an intimate night in, but that hardly went over when you were single. At least once a week, pretend it’s only your third or fourth date. Free the evening of distractions and design a lighting scheme that relies on candles or dimmers rather than fluorescents. Have a music selection on hand that sets the mood you want and choose a menu and wardrobe that compliment it. And don’t feel limited by the ambiance and romance. With the right lighting, music and mindset, an evening spent cooking together or playing scrabble can be as playful, thrilling or sexy as you want it to be.

O.K., so you’ve got a favorite Italian spot and can usually agree on a Saturday night movie, but remember what it was like when you had to really plan a night out? There’s no substitute from knowing each other well enough to be happy vegging on the couch together, but now that you have that, it’s important to remember to plan dates like you used to. Pick a place neither of you have been before, dress up, and make an entire night of it. And don’t forget to flirt! Pretend you’re still winning your partner over, and really turn on the charm. Most of what changes as a relationship progresses is the amount of effort and planning that goes into everything, so add thoughtful touches wherever possible. Call the night before to ask your date out or leave a note or invitation. Maybe make a reservation and spend the night out somewhere special. It’s hard to feel tied down when you’re flirting, dating and having the time of your life!

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