If there's one "problem" relationship experts hear over and over again, it's this: The passion has faded. The routine has replaced the spontaneous.
Yet most of those experts will tell you this generally isn't a reason to freak out. If there is a problem, it's in how you're handling the boredom.
You might find yourself with even more time on your hands now that you're social distancing during the pandemic. And all the extra time with your partner could strain your relationship.
Business Insider asked sex and relationship therapists to share their top strategies for keeping the passion alive in a romantic relationship, and preventing ennui from creeping in. Here are the best tips.
Accept that the waxing and waning of passion is normal
Couples therapist Rachel Sussman puts it bluntly. "Were we really put on this earth to have a monogamous sex life for 50 years and have passion the entire time for our partner? I don't think so," she said previously.
So when couples come to see Sussman complaining about the lack of passion in their relationship, she wants them to know: This is normal.
People are worried "that something's wrong with them," she told me. They think "maybe something's wrong with the couple; maybe something's wrong with them individually."
Chances are, there's not. "People think, 'Oh, [passion] should just be there,'" Sussman said. "No! It shouldn't just be there. You have to create it."
One strategy Sussman recommends? Scheduling sex dates, right there on the calendar.
Plan to do something 'illicit' in your relationship
Tammy Nelson is a sex and relationship therapist, and the director of the Integrative Sex Therapy Institute. Nelson said the "fantasy of an affair" is simply that "you'll have that impulsive excitement."
But affairs come with risk, like potentially destroying your partner's trust in you and wrecking your own self-image.
So Nelson proposes that people aim to have that impulsive excitement within their own relationships. "You have to have an affair with your spouse," she said. Meet like strangers at a bar one night, for example.
As Nelson said, "You have to make something about your marital sex feel dangerous."
Make your own life more exciting
Ruth Westheimer — a.k.a. "Dr Ruth" — said boredom is the single biggest threat to a romantic relationship.
Perhaps surprisingly, Westheimer advises anyone in this situation to focus first on themselves.
"By investing in yourself in all these ways, you'll find that the fog of boredom will lift and the bright light of joie de vivre will being to light your life."
And if it doesn't, it might be time to seek professional guidance, either individually or as a couple.