You’re crazy for them; they are similarly gaga about you.
But why do some couples manage to stay deeply in love, and others lose it?
Social psychologist Erich Fromm gave us all a big clue when he said that love isn’t a feeling, but a practice. In other words, love involves behaviour – it’s a skill. Those who stay madly in love probably recognise that.
Here are seven ideas that might help you to stay in love.
1. Keep doing the things that make them feel loved
It’s simple. To stay in love, try as hard (or almost as hard) as you did in the very beginning to keep your other half’s love tank full.
It’s natural to take your foot off the pedal a little after you’ve been in love a long time. But don’t become complacent.
To keep a person’s tank full, you need to know how to love them in their language. Afterall, love is subjective: we all show and receive it differently.
Don’t slip on the things that are the most important to them – neglect the other stuff
In the beginning, we tend to love in all the languages available! There will inevitably be some slippage, so make sure you keep doing the things that are the highest leverage for your partner. Maybe it’s physical affection and intimacy; maybe it’s washing their car. Find out and do it.
Most people don’t give you a guidebook for loving them. And so Gary Chapman’s framework, the love languages, can help you (I suggest you read his book). I also believe in using personality theory to help you – read this guide to the four love styles.
Even without those things, you can learn by paying attention from the word go. Notice what you do that your partner seems to really respond to.
2. Listen to and value them
It’s basic, I agree. Listening to the people we care about is still the simplest and highest impact thing we can do. It shows we care. It is also how you will stop yourself from becoming one of those depressing couples who just stare at their respective phones the whole time they are together.
When you listen, even during seemingly silly or insignificant discussions, you really understand them. You learn what it is that makes them tick. And so continue to give them the same attention you gave them in the beginning.
It is said that real love comes from attunement with another person, sensitivity and generosity. Even if those aren’t your top qualities in the rest of your life, make them dominant ones in your relationship.
And unless you are together all the time, never stop asking them how their day went. Nobody else cares enough to ask them consistently. As their partner, you should ideally still make that your business to know.
3. Forgive them
When you are with someone all the time, they are bound to occasionally say thoughtless things, or neglect you somehow. You will do it too.
Forgive them right away. It’s obvious that you need to say something if their behaviour has seriously upset you. But for minor stuff, practice instant forgiveness, and everyone will be the happier for it.
Couples that stay in love forgive eachother for minor grievances
Not harboring grievances is a key way we protect our relationships from internal threats.
4. Flirt with them
Never stop romancing them. This’ll let them know you’re still crazy about them without them having to wonder at it.
Don’t assume because you’ve been together for years that you can’t grab them in the kitchen, and give them a cheeky snog. (Why do we stop doing that?)
Also still kiss them hello and goodbye. Small gestures like this help us all to experience love from our partners.
5. Protect the relationship from external threats
Be proactive about warding off threats to your relationship.
Some of the threats are internal, as I mentioned. But threats come in external forms too. Lots of time apart for instance, or unwise behaviour such as hanging out with guys or girls you used to be on/off with.
You can’t guarantee fidelity, but you can do your best to make the relationship the container that you each value so highly, that going elsewhere isn’t desirable.
6. Learn from other couples who have stayed together
Couples that stay together approach their problems in distinct ways.
When disconnected, they ache for reconciliation. They avoid blaming eachother in arguments or disputes, meet one another’s needs (or at least try), parent each other a little, and understand that the future is unwritten and that their partner has no obligation to stay with them, which helps to avoid complacency.
7. Avoid the Four Horseman like the plague
The ‘Four Horseman’ are communication styles that predict the end of a relationship. They are:
Read more about the behaviors here, and/or watch the video below.
Their antidotes to these are:
- The ‘gentle start up’ – complain without blame.
- Building a ‘culture of appreciation’ – Small Things Often: regularly express appreciation, gratitude, affection, and respect for your partner.
- Take responsibility – accept responsibility, even if only for part of the conflict.
- Physiological self-soothing – stop any conflict discussion and call a timeout.
Read more about these practices on the Gottman Institute website.
To stay madly in love, avoid sinking into complacency. It’s clear from research and observation that couples who stay in love do not stop cherishing their partner and the relationship.
(This is a lot easier when both people have developed themselves, have good emotional health, understand their values, and are basically happy and fulfilled in their lives. That’s the actually hard bit….staying in love once you fall in love after that ought to be quite easy).