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You've Lost That Loving Feeling

The most frequently asked question I get is, "The excitement is gone from our relationship. How do we get it back?" And, I'm so glad people are asking it. Because, it tells me you aren't accepting a humdrum, run-of-the-mill, boring, stuck-in-a-rut relationship.

Upset Couple

Let's go back to chemistry class first, to help answer this question. When we first enter into a new relationship, Mother Nature wants to give us as much opportunity as possible to bond and fall in love, in the hopes of eventually propagating our species. So, She offers us the gift of a myriad of brain chemicals, which we gladly accept.

During the first 6 to 18 months of a new relationship, there's an increase of levels of dopamine, testosterone, PEA and norepinephrine. As a result, we become "addicted" to our partner, not unlike an addiction to drugs. Some of these chemicals are cousins to amphetamines. So, we find our hearts racing when we think of our partners. We can become flush and even perspire. Like on a drug high, we find ourselves able to stay up all hours of the night with our partner. And, when we can't get our "fix" our minds keep coming back to thought of our beloved.

During this stage of our relationships, romance comes easily. There's spontaneity, playfulness, passion and excitement. We touch often, make love, go out together, write romantic letters and poems and buy (or make) surprise gifts for our partners.

But, Mother Nature knows that we can't keep up this pace forever. We need to think about our friends, family and our jobs again. And, my goodness, we've become sleep-deprived.

So, She slowly starts reducing these addictive brain chemicals, and we find ourselves in a new stage of our relationship. Since the passion has subsided, many couples assume so has the love. And, they may be right. Mother Nature has given us 6 to 18 months of animal attraction, enough time to see if there's love or not. If not, it's time to move on.

Unfortunately, though, some couples assume that since the passion is gone, so must the love. And, too many move on trying to find a relationship that will stay in this first stage indefinitely. These are usually the singles that skip from relationship to relationship every year or so, not hanging on long enough to discover what the next stage has to offer.

The next stage is filled with stability, respect, comfort, contentment, trust and long-term commitment. These are the ingredients to a relationship that lasts a lifetime. But, that doesn't solve the problem of getting back the excitement from the beginning of our relationship. The good news is, we can most definitely get those brain chemicals flowing again. The hard part is, we have to work at it.

Think of your relationship like a fire. When you start out, it burns fast and hot. The reason: you've lit the paper and kindling which catch easily. When the paper and kindling have all been burned out, the logs have ignited. No real flames. Instead, there's the warm comfort of red glowing coals that will stay burning slowly all night.

But, if you throw on more kindling and paper, you get the big flames again. They burn out fast, but as long as you keep feeding the flame, it will continue to burn bright and hot. So, what exactly is your fuel?

Old Stuff

To rekindle that old flame, see what kind of kindling worked in the past and throw some of that back on the coals. Go back to the places that you first met, kissed, danced, got engaged, got married, and made love. Write love letters and poems to each other again. Make or buy little surprises for your partner. Knit a wool cap or burn a mix CD. Basically, bring yourself back to the days when the flame was roaring.

New Stuff

To get those old chemicals out of storage, you need to shake them up a bit. Whenever your relationship becomes humdrum, boring and you find yourself stuck in a rut, eating out at Luigi's every Wednesday night and renting a video every Saturday evening, passion and excitement take a sabbatical. To get them back you need novelty in your relationship. Stretch yourselves. Get out of your comfort zones and do something new together. Start a cactus garden, take Tango dance classes, join a co-ed softball team. But, make it something you can continue together. And, when that gets old, change it up again.

Get Out of Here!

Sometimes you just need to get away from the life you're living: the kids, the house, your job, the chores, the phone, emails, alarm clocks, and the like. Leave them all behind, because these are the things that take you away from time spent with your partner and evaporate your romantic juices. If you can take a two-week safari to Africa, go for it. But, in reality, your getaway doesn't have to be extravagant, expensive nor even very long. You just need time to reconnect. Try a weekend cruise, a trip to Vegas, staying the night at an amusement park hotel, a nice hotel (www.britanniahotels.com) or a B&B; at least an hour away from home. Turn off the TV. Stay away from the computer, and limit you cell phone use. It's time to focus on your partner. And, when you return home, your time away will fill your fuel tanks of love.

Stay in Touch

One of the easiest ways to bring romance back to a stale relationship is through touch. When you touch your partner in a loving way, you help them release the hormone oxytocin, "the cuddle chemical". Oxytocin makes us feel loved, warm, comforted and content. It bonds us and brings us closer. Making love and having orgasms produces oodles of the stuff. But, you can also produce it by holding hands, hugging, giving each other massages, playing footsies, cuddling on the sofa, spooning in bed, washing each other in the tub, brushing your partner's hair, and so on.

It's a Date

Make dating your partner a priority again. When you used to date, you'd have butterflies before going out. You'd get yourself looking and smelling your best and then wonder where the date would take you. Well, sit down weekly with your partner and schedule dates. Don't take them for granted. Prep like you used to, maybe in separate rooms. Dress up. Put on make-up. Shave. Shower. Wear cologne or perfume. Show your partner they are worth getting ready for (and that you're worth them getting ready for, too). Also, you can have fun with the dates. One week he can plan the date without telling her what it is. The next, she can surprise him with the date she's planned. Maybe the next week they both work on the date together. And, the next, the couple could have written 6 to 10 date ideas on slips of paper and pull one out randomly. As long as you look forward to your dates, your flames will stay lit.

The Best Medicine

Think back to when you first were dating. Do you remember how much you two laughed together? You had fun, and laughter was a way to bring you closer. Laughing produces endorphins, our addictive, feel-good brain chemicals. You may find yourselves laughing less as life and stress get the best of you. It's time to change that. Dress up for Halloween. Head to a comedy club. Go miniature golfing. Try "Karaoke" Night at the local pub. Watch an Adam Sandler movie. Tell your partner a joke. Laughter is the spark to ignite your paper and kindling. You might be surprised to discover how powerful laughter can be.

Good luck and enjoy the fire.