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How to have a happier relationship according to a relationship psychologist

Psychologist Limor Gottlieb shares why novelty is essential in a relationship

World Happiness Day
Shot of a young couple dancing together in their kitchen
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
March 19, 2024
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 When we first fall in love, nothing makes us happier than dedicating every minute to discovering everything there to know about our new partner. Sparks fly and everything feels awash in the glow of the first flush of love.

This giddy feeling often fades (it's hard to go about your life in a lavender haze!), and we have to work at injecting that ‘just fallen in love’ feeling to keep a relationship happy.

"Over time, relationships can become routine and predictable, leading to boredom and complacency," notes psychologist Limor Gottlieb, who specialises in relationships. 

Woman on sofa in white blazer
Dr. Limor Gottlieb specialises in relationships

"Research shows that couples who feel stuck in a rut are more likely to experience distress and dissatisfaction in their relationship over time.

"To counteract this, my number one advice to couples for fostering a happy relationship is to prioritise novelty," she continues.

What is novelty in a relationship?

"Novelty refers to introducing new and exciting experiences, activities and elements into the relationship regularly. Novelty plays a significant role in keeping the relationship fresh, exciting and vibrant.

"Introducing novelty injects an element of surprise and excitement, which helps couples maintain their passion and intimacy as it keeps both partners engaged and interested in each other," Limor continues.

 READ: Why I chose companionship over chemistry in my 50s - and you should too 

Novelty also fosters a sense of adventure and exploration, which allows couples to discover new aspects of themselves and each other, ultimately preventing the relationship from stagnating and promoting long-term relationship satisfaction, Limor explains.

Young couple hugging in a cafe© Getty
Novelty is essential in a relationship

"For you, novelty could include trying new activities, exploring new places, or embarking on adventures together. Couples can also spice up their routine by introducing novelty in their everyday interactions, such as surprising each other with thoughtful gestures or trying new things in the bedroom."

How to introduce novelty for a happier relationship

1. Create traditions and rituals 

"Establishing unique traditions or rituals (what relationship psychologists refer to as 'rituals of connection') can add a sense of novelty to your relationship.

"Rituals and traditions, such as weekly date nights, monthly adventures, or a yearly getaway to celebrate your anniversary, promote bonding and boost your connection."

Colourful studio portrait of two women© Getty
Creating rituals keeps a relationship exciting

2. Step out of your comfort zone

"Explore activities neither of you have tried before. This could include anything from cooking classes to dance lessons or hiking. The key is to step out of your comfort zones and try something new together.

A young couple lovingly embrace each other during a meetup and barbecue with friends.© Getty
Trying new things together makes a relationship exciting

"According to research, couples who participate in challenging tasks together tend to feel more in love than those who engage in mundane activities. Additionally, spending time on unfamiliar activities, such as rock climbing or learning a new language, can provide a challenge and working towards a shared goal can strengthen the bond between partners and foster a sense of closeness."

 READ: Why me-time is essential for a healthy, happy relationship 

3. Travel to new places

"Plan trips to destinations you've never visited before. Whether it's a weekend getaway to a nearby town or a more extensive adventure to a different country, traveling together can create lasting memories and strengthen the bond between partners."

4. Surprise each other

"Surprise your partner with unexpected gestures or gifts. It could be as simple as preparing their favourite meal or arranging a spontaneous date night.

DISCOVER: 5 ways to make every day special – and feel instantly happier 

"Surprises keep the relationship exciting and show your partner that you care and are thinking about them. Surprise your partner with thoughtful gestures, small gifts, or spontaneous acts of kindness to keep the relationship fresh and exciting."

5. Switch up your routine

"Break out of your routine by trying new restaurants, attending events and shows, exploring different areas in your town, or simply changing up your weekend activities. Even small changes can add a sense of freshness to your relationship. By changing things up you will have new experiences and topics to discuss, which will enhance your connection.


Shot of a young couple dancing together in their kitchen© Getty
Switch up your routine for increased happiness

"Remember, communication is key. Discuss your interests and ideas openly to ensure you both feel engaged and excited about incorporating novelty into your relationship. It’s important to regularly reflect on your relationship and discuss ways to keep it exciting and fulfilling. By prioritising new experiences and embracing spontaneity, your relationship will not only survive, but thrive."

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