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How to Keep the Relationship Interesting After the First Year

by Emma Wells

The first-year anniversary is an important marker for your relationship. You and your partner know each other well, and you’ve deepened your commitment to each other. Now the challenge is keeping that commitment while continuing to have fun. Some people dread long-term relationships, fearing that staying with the same person for more than a year could result in boredom. But as long as both of you keep your lives full and interesting, you're unlikely to get bored with each other. After the first year, remember to practice loving yourselves individually, maintain relationships and activities outside of romance, and find new ways to grow together for a lasting bond.

Try several new things this year and commit to doing so throughout the year. Travel to a new vacation destination or try something adventurous like skydiving. Instead of going to all the same restaurants, seek out new places for your palate. Take some lessons and develop a mutual lifelong hobby, like golf, painting or cooking. Trying new things together ensures that you will each grow individually as people, and as a result, your relationship will grow, too.

Get together with friends on a regular basis. Instead of staying in with your honey every weekend, also maintain a social life with your friends and family. Nurture your individual relationships to stay engaged and interested in each other, in what relationship guru Dr. Diana de Vegh calls the "salad theory," says "O" magazine writer Dawn Raffel. A salad needs a variety of ingredients, de Vegh says, and a healthy life also should include a mix of romance, friends, community and work. To stay happier together, says de Vegh, enjoy a full life outside of the relationship.

Idealize each other. Based on their studies, writers Murray, Holmes and Griffin reveal in the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” that couples who idealize each other’s positive attributes stay together longer and feel more secure in their relationships. During the previous year, you have probably become aware of your partner’s major flaws, but instead of dwelling on the problems, focus on the positive attributes. See your partner as his best self, so that he becomes that person. The authors of the study give an example of one subject who, instead of viewing her quiet partner as inexpressive, considered the "strong, silent type," framing his personality in a positive and idealistic light rather than a negative.

Communicate regularly to learn more about each other. Don’t assume you know everything about your partner just because you have survived your first year. Ask your partner questions about her childhood, secrets and dreams for the future. Discuss current events, art, films, writing and/or sports. Share sexual fantasies and communicate new things you might want to try in the bedroom. Most importantly, accept that you and your partner may differ in opinions because you are both different people. You will surprise each other as time goes on, and that growth keeps the relationship alive.

Love yourselves first. Interesting relationships are the sum of two interesting people, and to keep the relationship healthy, according to Dr. de Vegh, both partners need to stand on their own. If you find yourself expecting your partner to take care of you or fulfill all aspects of your life, ask yourself what you can do to take care of your own needs. Dr. de Vegh tells her patients that viewing a partner as an independent adult with wants and needs of their own will foster a healthy, and ultimately, an interesting, long-term relationship.

About the Author

Emma Wells has been writing professionally since 2004. She is also a writing instructor, editor and former elementary school teacher. She has a Master's degree in writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology. Her creative work has been published in several small literary magazines.

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