How To Increase Love In A Relationship: 11 Tips From A Therapist

Affair and Cheating | | , Editor-in-Chief
how to increase love in a relationship

When I recently met a friend for drinks, something seemed off. It was the first time I had met her since her wedding two years ago, and I expected her to chew my ear off with updates about the new chapter in her life. Instead, she seemed disenchanted with marriage. Concerned, I prodded her to share her woes. And she said, “I wish I knew how to increase love in a relationship because, at this point, I don’t know what else could save us.

“We’re at this eerie place in our relationship, where nothing really is wrong and yet everything seems wrong. There are no glaring issues but there is no happiness either.” I instantly understood what she meant. If you have been in a long-term relationship, perhaps, you can too. It’s not easy figuring out how to develop a relationship into its healthiest, most robust form. Like my friend, I, too, have struggled with feeling a sense of void a couple of years into my marriage and understanding how to keep a relationship exciting and healthy at the same time.

However, over a decade of navigating the ups and downs, I believe I have a better sense of what it takes to build stronger relationships. So, I decided to tap into my experiences as well as consult with counseling psychologist Dhriti Bhavsar (M.Sc, Clinical Psychology), who specializes in relationship, breakup, and LGBTQ counseling to lay out tips for a good relationship for those, who, like my friend, wonder what it takes to fortify their bond with their partners.

What Is Love In A Relationship?

Before we look at how to increase love in a relationship, it’s vital to make sure we’re on the same page about what love in a relationship is. Now, this may seem unnecessary because everyone knows what love is, right? It’s the most talked about, eulogized emotion of all. But you will be surprised to learn how many people — I was one of them and perhaps, you are too — don’t quite understand what romantic love really is.

We equate love with the feelings of intense attraction that trigger longing, a need for physical closeness, and an idealization of the object of our endearment. However, these feelings more aptly describe infatuation and passionate love, not the enduring romantic love you need to stick together for the long haul.

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Dhriti says, “Love is not just an emotion, it is a delicate balance of chemicals in the brain and a basic biological need, like hunger and thirst. In a relationship, we experience eros or romantic love, which is characterized by feelings of safety, connection, belongingness, intimacy, passion, and commitment.” Dhriti refers to the American Social psychologist Zick Rubin’s empirical measure of love, and says romantic love constitutes,

  • Attachment: A need and desire to be with another person
  • Caring: Valuing their well-being and happiness as much as your own
  • Intimacy: Both physical and emotional

I hope that gives you a more nuanced perspective of the connection between enduring love and relationship health. For me, the best way to describe love in a relationship is that love is a verb, not an adjective. It is the act of,

  • Choosing your partner every day
  • Deciding to honor your commitment to your partner
  • Being vulnerable with your partner
  • Being willing to forgive
  • Showing affection and care
  • Making compromises
  • Reciprocating gestures of love and kindness
  • Offering your partner a safe space to express themselves

Related Reading: 10 Explanations To Sum Up What Love Means In A Relationship

11 Therapist-Backed Tips On How To Increase Love In A Relationship

When my friend talked about her struggles with figuring out how to increase love in a relationship, I was reminded of a phase in my marriage where I felt a similar loss of direction. While there were no red flags or obvious issues, both my spouse and I wrestled with a sense of discontentment and failed to understand what we could do to strengthen the relationship.

With introspection and lots and lots of late-night conversation, we figured out that it was because we had stopped doing the things we did in the early days of our relationship. The seal of marriage made us complacent and that stagnated the relationship growth. To break free from this phase of discontentment, we decided to go back to the basics. Once we identified the things to work on in a relationship to make each other feel loved, appreciated, valued, and wanted, there was no looking back.

That, in my experience, is the secret to building stronger, better relationships. Dhriti agrees, and shares with us some actionable tips for a good relationship, based on the Gottman approach to couples therapy:

Related Reading: What Does True Love In A Relationship Look Like?

1. Build friendship

Love and relationships are often considered two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other. However, I feel that a crucial secret ingredient for building stronger relationships is friendship. That’s because love ebbs and flows but friendship offers you a solid foundation to build a relationship rooted in respect, care, and affection. I believe that my marriage was able to weather many a rough storm because I married my best friend, and that connection kept us going even when the love and romance weren’t at their strongest.

On the role of friendship in building stronger relationships, Dhriti says, “Focus on building a friendship within your relationship. The intensity of the love you feel for each other won’t stay the same. When the fresh feeling of being in love fades, it’s the comfort that partners have with each other that keeps their relationship strong.”

2. Spend quality time together

how to show effort in a relationship
Don’t let complacency take hold in your relationship

One of the most crucial things to work on in a relationship is keeping your connection strong and that can only happen if you carve out time to engage with each other. Dhriti says, “Quality time, which includes a couple doing things together that they both enjoy, is extremely important. You must set aside time for activities that involve just the two of you, like date nights.”

Often when couples say that they have drifted apart or feel like roommates and not romantic partners, it is because somewhere along the way, complacency in the relationship replaced consistent effort to connect. So, if you want to know how to show effort in a relationship,

  • Plan regular date nights (don’t let the onus fall on your partner entirely)
  • Take some time every day to just talk to your partner
  • Plan short getaways every couple of months
  • Use weekends to spend as much time with each other as possible
  • Look for activities you can bond over — it can be anything from playing games to going on hikes, signing up for a hobby class, or volunteering

Related Reading: How To Use Words Of Affirmation As A Love Language?

3. Encourage each other

What is the point of being in a relationship if your partner isn’t your biggest cheerleader and support system, and you, theirs? So, if you want to know how to increase love in a relationship, start by encouraging your partner to chase their goals, dreams, and aspirations. Using words that instill hope and let your partner know that you have faith in them goes a long way in fortifying your connection.

So, the next time your partner shares that they are concerned or stressed about an important meeting with their boss or a crucial job interview, resist the urge to offer advice on how they can handle the situation better. Even though you have their best interests at heart, the subtext is that you don’t have confidence in your partner’s ability to handle the situation well on their own.

Instead, encourage them with statements like, “I have seen how well you handle yourself under pressure. There is no reason for you to be worried. You’ve got this.” Kind words said at the right time can be the key to improving relationships.

4. Nurture laughter

Steps to a healthy relationship don’t involve life-altering changes or grand gestures. Instead, the secret to building better relationships lies in the little things like nurturing laughter and silliness. Dhriti says, “Couples who laugh together feel better connected and associate pleasant feelings with the presence of each other. So, set aside time each day to share stories about your day.” In addition to that, do what you can to keep the relationship vibe light and fun. Here are some things that work well for my husband and me:

  • Banter
  • Sharing memes
  • Retelling funny/embarrassing stories of the past
  • Playing with the dog

Related Reading: How Our Relationship And Marriage Has Evolved Over Time

5. Practice gratitude

Speaking of the things to work on in a relationship, Dhriti emphasizes the importance of practicing gratitude, and says, “A partner taking the time to notice everything good the other does and verbally expressing gratitude and appreciation for it can contribute immensely toward improving relationships. The Gottman approach states that to sustain a healthy relationship, couples need five positive interactions to counter one negative interaction.”

Resentment in a relationship can become a huge impediment to building stronger relationships. And resentment is nothing but an accumulation of indignations and anger over unmet needs and perceived slights. The best way to counter it — and in turn, move a step closer to understanding how to increase love in a relationship — is with appreciation and gratitude. So, make it a habit to,

  • Say thank you often
  • Be vocal about the things you admire in your partner
  • Praise and raise your partner up in public, instead of pulling them down with snide remarks and sarcasm
  • Inculcate activities like telling your partner the things that make you grateful about having them in your life
Infographic On How To Increase Love In A Relationship
11 Therapist-Backed Tips On How To Increase Love In A Relationship

6. Prioritize intimacy

How to increase love in a relationship, you wonder? Or how to feel loved in a relationship and make your partner feel loved? You cannot discount the role of different forms of intimacy in the relationship. If you want to strengthen the relationship with your significant other, you must make a conscious effort to foster different forms of intimacy in the relationship, including but not limited to,

  • Sexual intimacy: I’ve noticed that sexual dry spells tend to make me and my spouse snippier toward each other. When I brought this up during a girls’ night out, my girlfriends reported experiencing the same in their relationship. It’s no wonder that sex is believed to be a strong bonding force in intimate romantic relationships. You must find a way to prioritize it, despite hectic schedules, responsibilities, and other overbearing aspects of life
  • Physical intimacy: You also need non-sexual physical intimacy to strengthen the relationship and feel more connected to your partner. This includes kisses, hugs, holding hands, cuddling
  • Emotional intimacy: Sexual and physical intimacy cannot work their magic in improving relationships in the absence of emotional intimacy. Make the quality time in your relationship count by using it to connect on a deeper level and be vulnerable with each other
  • Intellectual intimacy: A relationship can begin to feel boring and stagnant if you and your partner cannot stimulate each other intellectually. Find avenues where you and your partner can engage in intellectually stirring conversations, be it debating the day’s news stories, discussing books, or learning new things together

Related Reading: 11 Ways To Improve Communication In Relationships

7. Communicate, communicate, communicate

One of the most crucial things to work on in a relationship is the quality of your communication. In the absence of healthy communication, you cannot make headway in your quest to understand how to increase love in a relationship. After all, if every conversation paves the way for misunderstandings, arguments, and bickering, thoughts about how to develop a relationship into its most robust form take a backseat.

Instead, resentment, contempt, and criticism gain a stronghold, driving partners apart. That’s why you must prioritize healthy, respectful communication in the relationship. Here are some tips that can help communicate better:

  • Process your feelings before you communicate them
  • Don’t use the silent treatment or stonewalling to convey your displeasure
  • Choose an appropriate time and setting to communicate with your partner
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Don’t talk over each other or cut each other off mid-sentence
  • Talk about anything and everything under the sun, from the silliest to the most serious topics
Stories about love and romance

8. Practice active listening

This one is essentially an extension of good communication but deserves a separate mention given its role in building better relationships: practice active listening. Dhriti says, “When having difficult conversations, take turns speaking, focus more on conveying how you feel rather than casting blame on your partner.”

The role of active listening in strengthening love and relationships is not limited to having difficult conversations alone. It can be a great catalyst in making partners feel more connected, heard, and acknowledged even in everyday conversations. You can practice active listening by,

  • Maintaining eye contact with your partner when they tell you something
  • Facing and leaning toward them when they’re talking to you
  • Not appearing distracted by fidgeting with things or looking at your phone
  • Asking follow-up questions
  • Not interrupting them mid-sentence

Related Reading: How To Stop The Cycle Of Fighting In A Relationship – 11 Expert-Recommended Tips

9. Handle conflict like a team

If I had to share one mantra on how to increase love in a relationship, it’d be this: learn to resolve conflict like a team (and this is where I’ve experienced that the element of friendship serves as one of the most enduring steps to a healthy relationship). Dhriti agrees, and says, “Approach conflict like you’re on the same team because you are. I like to tell my clients, “It’s both of you vs the problem, not you vs your partner”.”

Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship. Even if you and your partner are two peas in a pod, you will find something or the other disagree, argue, and fight about. What matters is how you work through and resolve that conflict. Here is what healthy conflict resolution entails,

  • No blame-game
  • No yelling, name-calling, or verbal abuse of any kind
  • Using “I” statements, like “I feel”, “What I need…”, “I expect” to put forth your perspective
  • Disengaging and taking space to process your emotions if something angers or upsets you

10. Don’t sweep issues under the rug

things to work on in a relationship
Ignoring a problem won’t make it go away

As I said, conflict is inevitable in a relationship. It becomes a problem and impedes relationship growth only if partners don’t know how to handle conflict the right way and because of it, they keep sweeping issues under the rug. However, ignoring a problem won’t make it go away. Instead, all those bottled-up complaints, grouses, and laments will continue to pile on until you cannot bear the weight anymore and then explode all over your relationship.

If you want to know how to increase love in a relationship, you need to start by tackling issues and problems head-on, as they arise. Dhriti says, “Repair attempts and building positive interactions are equally important. It’s not the fights that define a relationship, but how partners respond to conflict and how they recover from it.”

Related Reading: 15 Signs Of Emotional Detachment In Your Relationship

11. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Love and relationships are a rare gift that not everyone is blessed with. When it comes your way, don’t take its value for granted while focusing on the minor slip-ups that will bear no consequence on your life some hours, days, or weeks later. This is a principle I’ve struggled to master but one that has stood me in good stead over the years.

So, now if I’m bothered by minor irritants like an unanswered text or a bottle of water not refilled, I take a deep breath and ask myself, “Will this change my life in any way versus will my life change if my partner was not in it?” Of course, by that measure, almost everything seems inconsequential, so many would say it’s a false equivalent. But, for me, it has served as a great reminder of not sweating the small stuff, and that has, in turn, minimized conflict in my marriage.

Key Pointers

  • Love in romantic relationships is a mix of attachment, care, and intimacy
  • Constantly working toward reinforcing love is essential for sustaining a relationship
  • Some ways to increase love for your partner include building a friendship, spending quality time together, practicing gratitude, fostering intimacy, communicating well, and not sweating the small stuff

The love you feel for your partner is the biggest antidote to resentment, contempt, criticism, and conflict. Never take it for granted or put it on the back burner as you take on the responsibilities and challenges life throws your way. Love needs to be nurtured with consistent and mindful effort. We hope to have helped you in the pursuit with this comprehensive guide on how to increase love in a relationship.

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