gray scale of two couples on the beach

By Lindsay Cowdin

At the beginning of new relationships, we are typically flooded with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that creates feelings of reward, energy, exhilaration, and motivation (Slater, 2006). This dopamine flood is the reason why our heart pumps when our new lover walks into
the room, why we are happy to stay up all night talking with them, and why sexual attraction is strongest at the beginning of the relationship (Slater, 2006).

However, as the relationship becomes familiar, these feelings fade due to hedonic adaptation. Hedonic adaptation is the idea that as something becomes familiar, its ability to increase our excitement and feelings of reward fade (Lyubomirsky et al., 2005). Although hedonic adaptation is inevitable for all couples, there are things we can do to challenge it and experience more passion in our long-term romantic relationships. We can do this by filling our romantic relationships with a variety of novel
activities that we and our partners can enjoy together (Slater, 2006).

We can do this by:
 Mixing up date night – be creative!
 Trying a new and exciting activity together
 Leaving love notes in surprising places for your partner to find
 Taking a spontaneous trip together
 Having spontaneous sex
 Learning something new together

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we can apply this idea by doing something out of the ordinary for the holiday to increase passion in our relationships. For instance, if you typically go out for dinner every year, try making a nice dinner together from home. Additionally, instead
of giving your loved one a dozen roses, try hiding each rose with love notes attached to them in different places where your lover will find them throughout the day. Another idea includes staying the night at a hotel in a city where you and your lover have never stayed before. The
ideas are endless! The key point is to avoid the ordinary and mix things up with activities that are new, exciting, and fun for both you and your partner.

Lyubomirsky, Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing Happiness. Review of General
Psychology, 9(2), 111–131.
Slater, L. (2006, February). Love. National Geographic, 209(2), 32–49.