I’ve been in a relationship for a really long time, which means I haven’t technically “dated” since George W. Bush was president. Sometimes I feel a little nostalgic and curious about the dating lifestyle, but the other day, when I asked my boyfriend if it hurt when he fell from heaven, I realized there are a lot of things about dating that can — and should — translate to long-term relationships. Corny pick-up lines, for example. Here are a few more dating habits and rituals to keep in your relationship, no matter how long you’ve been together…
1. Flirting. If I could give every couple one piece of advice for keeping a relationship fun and romantic, it would be this: never stop flirting. Tease each other. Leave each other random love notes. Send each other suggestive texts. Play footsie under the table. If your partner looks particularly cute or sexy, tell them! Flirting will make your relationship feel playful and let your partner know that you don’t take them for granted.
2. Getting dressed up for dates. It’s nice to be in a secure relationship where you don’t feel the pressure to look perfect all the time, but that doesn’t mean you should put your sexy dresses and heels in storage forever. Make a point of getting ready for couple time every once in awhile: listen to music, paint your pout with red lipstick, and slip into an outfit that makes you feel totally fierce. Encourage your partner to dress up too, because no matter how long you’ve been together, showing off a hot date never gets old.
3. Going on dates in general. When you’ve been with someone for awhile, it’s easy to let fancy dinners and romantic outings fall by the wayside in favor of takeout and “Dr. Who” marathons (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Try to have an official “date” at least once a month where you get all dolled up and spend some quality time together. If you prefer staying in or are on a budget, you can totally do a date night at home: light some candles, cook dinner together, make a romantic playlist–whatever it takes to make sure it feels like a special night.
4. Making out. I know some couples whose sex lives get better over the years and some whose sex lives have stalled out a bit, but a common thread in many long-term relationships is that simply making out — without the expectation of sex — tends to be a rare event. I think that’s a shame, because making out is awesome. Mix up your sexual routine by throwing in some steamy kissing sessions in the kitchen, on the couch, or in the back row at the movie theater.
5. Trying new things. People who date a lot tend to have more varied and active social lives, because they’re always out meeting new people or having random adventures with eager-to-please new partners. There’s no reason you can’t keep this going in a committed relationship. Think about the fun new things you might ask a first date to do with you–anything from taking a drawing class to meeting for cocktails at a hip new bar — and then invite your significant other to join you.