1. Shower each other with attention on a completely random, no-special-occasion day.
Holidays are a great excuse for couples to pay more attention to each other. But it can be way more impactful to display affection on a random day, when your partner is likely to be the only one experiencing a sudden, unexpected onslaught of tenderness. Even a move as simple as scheduling a series of loving e-cards to arrive hourly in your significant other’s inbox without any explanation can be effective. Alternatively, you might announce in the morning that you’ve decided it’s their special day and go out of your way to cater to them—by cooking breakfast, putting their dirty clothes in the hamper before they can reach for them, and even squeezing the toothpaste onto the toothbrush so they don’t have to. Or maybe celebrate their half birthday on a whim. Doting is just better when it’s unanticipated.
2. Stock the fridge and cupboards with all your partner’s favorites.
Cooking for another person is romantic, but stocking the pantry and fridge with all of someone’s food favorites (whether you live together or not) is a surefire way to carve a direct path to the center of their heart. Head to the grocery store with your partner’s tastes at the forefront of your mind and unpack everything while they’re out. When they return home to discover everything they could possibly crave lined up neatly and ready to eat, they will thank you from the bottom of their
heart stomach. If your boyfriend or girlfriend happens to have a taste for a tough-to-locate item—like Finnish candy bars or some kind of specialty frozen pizza sold only on Thursdays on the south side of Chicago—tracking that rare product down and surprising them with it is a great way to demonstrate how much you appreciate them.
3. Agree on a “stop word” for future fights.
Even the most compatible couples fight, so no matter how well things happen to be going, you’d be foolish not to anticipate that things will get nasty at a certain point down the line. That said, there’s a reliable way to be more mindful about how you treat each other during the worst bouts. By choosing a “stop word”—an agreed upon term that either party can cite mid-fight to signify that it’s time to pause because things are getting out of hand—you arm yourselves with a safe way out of the whackness, and, if you choose wisely, a reminder that things were once swell, and they can get there again.
4. Wake each other up with oral sex.
There’s a brief moment between dreaming and waking when everything’s askew. We struggle for a few brief seconds to sort out where we are, whether or not the avalanche in our nightmare actually happened, and whether or not it’s a gym day. To guide someone as gently as possible across the bridge from dream world to real world, try planting your face between their legs. As the reality of your tongue massaging their private parts sets in, they’re sure to see the forthcoming day through rose-tinted glasses—at least until they climax. Plus, there’s exponential potential for intimacy when we’re our grubbiest, most “morning” selves.
5. Share excerpts from your journals.
A journal is a safe place for documenting secret desires, troubling thoughts, and intimate details. It’s not something compiled with the intent of being read by anyone other than its author—ever. Clearly, it’s unwise to violate someone’s privacy by combing through their diary without permission. But because a person’s record of their inner life is so sacred, the act of sharing even a sliver of it is a grand gesture. In place of physical gifts, it can be rewarding to exchange tidbits from each other’s journals. If you’re not the journaling type, you can always print out an email thread you starred from long ago, when you were first falling for each other. Or read a meaningful quote written by a famous person that happens to encapsulate exactly how you feel about the person you love.
6. Do something nice for each other’s parents.
Most of us have a soft spot for our moms and dads. When our parents are happy with us, it’s hard not to feel good about life in general. So if you’re serious about your significant other, you might as well start taking their parents’ happiness, which is sure to trickle down to them, into consideration. The easiest way to do this is to incorporate the people who spawned your boyfriend or girlfriend into your life as a couple. Send them a thoughtful email once in a while with a few recent photos of the two of you, or ring them every so often to update them on day-to-day happenings. By going out of your way to be especially kind to someone’s parents, you create a ripple effect of good vibes that will ultimately influence your relationship positively.
7. Focus solely on one person’s pleasure in bed.
When you deliberately decide to make someone the center of the action in bed, it makes them feel as if their needs are prioritized. Reciprocal lovemaking is awesome, but it’s also nice to be worshipped once in a while—to orgasm without having to think twice about someone else’s pleasure. You don’t even have to set the mood with a scented candle and the right music (although it’s nice if you do). Just pull your lover into bed and declare, “It’s all about you tonight.” Then follow through.
8. Color-code their closet and/or bookshelves.
While it might seem weird to reorganize your way to closeness, the key here is to mark someone’s belongings with your personal touch—to remind them, even in absence, that you’re part of their lives (and that they’re lucky to be with someone who has such a badass sense of style). Two typical household areas ripe for color-coding—a painless, under-appreciated way to make a space look automatically neater, and chicer—are the closet and bookshelf. All you have to do is rearrange someone’s clothing or books according to pigment and you’ll end up with a magnificent rainbow of book jackets and/or t-shirts. The effect is uniquely appealing, and unless your significant other feels strongly about their existing organization system, they’ll be grateful for the smart, fashionable change that makes them think of you.