in: Dating & Relationships

One Interesting Way to Keep Things Interesting

Of the long-term relationship advice we hear, striving to keep things interesting makes a great deal of sense. Here’s one (interesting) way to do just that.

—See the author’s TEDx Talk on Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Shut Down World

Let’s face it, no matter how much you love one another it is very easy to fall into routines. And while there is a knowing comfort and familiarity that comes with routine, it can often be the beginning of the end for even the most beautiful relationships. Here’s one way that my partner and I have found to keep things fresh, interesting and yes, even exciting after being with each other for years…

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

This old saw is often quite true even in the best of relationships. When we find “the one” with whom we want to share the rest of our life, the first tendency is to want to be around each other as much as possible. This is all well and good during the honeymoon phase; however, things can start to slowly, almost imperceptibly, become a bit stale and unwind if you continue to spend most of your time together. This is true even if you have different jobs and live together.

Here are some of the traps that can undermine even the strongest of relationships as a result of sharing the same living quarters:

  • Taking each other for granted
  • Not being fully present for each other
  • Lack of authentic communication for fear of rocking the boat
  • Resentment
  • Loss of romance, adventure and desire
  • Going through the motions sexually speaking
  • Settling into the “comfort of the certain” rather than risk the discomfort of uncertainty.

As human beings we seem to be hard-wired to seek the lowest energy state possible. From a survival standpoint this makes sense because it conserves calories and tends to avoid the risks associated with the unknowns of a scary and dangerous world.

However, what has helped us to survive and propagate as a species now seems to get in the way of achieving fulfilling, long-term relationships. That’s because (according to Dr. Maslow) once our lower-order needs are met, we naturally seek out higher-level ones. This includes transcendent and self-actualized experiences with our life partner. Neither of which are easy—or perhaps even possible—within a context of routine that comes with spending too much time together.

His & Her Caves

More out of economic necessity (for now), my partner and I live separately. We are both entrepreneurs with our own respective businesses. During the week we may occasionally see each other in person, but we typically communicate via video Skype in the evenings. During the weekends, my partner stays at my place.

Eventually, when our financial situation allows it, we will live under the same roof… but not always share the same bedroom. The reason for this is largely based upon what we have discovered about the joys of not being joined at the hip all the time.

We both come from previous marriages in which things eventually devolved into routine—which was one of several reasons leading to their eventual endings. We also know quite a bit more about ourselves than we did while in our earlier relationships. For example, we now know that it is easy for either of us to fall prey to the siren call of routine and we are exquisitely aware of the consequences of allowing ourselves to do so.

In fact, it was just this morning after a particularly beautiful lovemaking session that we discussed why our relationship works so well. We came to the conclusion that a big part of it is by NOT being around each other full time, we keep a sense of freshness, adventure and wonder alive.

Here are some of the ways we do this:

  • We dress and present ourselves as if we were going on a date—we both take extra care to look attractive for one another every time we get together.
  • Not having been in each other’s physical presence for days at a time makes us genuinely look forward to and appreciate the other.
  • Time away gives us each space to grow as individuals so we can be even more for the other when together. It also gives us time to come up with ideas that can help keep our relationship exciting and adventurous. “Group think / sync” can be the bane of keeping the spark alive.
  • We treat our time together as much more precious and special than if we were together all the time.

As a result of this lifestyle, we understand and are constantly aware of the fact that—first and foremost—we are individuals. We do not attempt to complete each other as so often depicted in Hollywood and romance literature. Instead, we allow our individuality to add perspective and diversity to the mix of our relationship. These are things we celebrate rather than avoid.

Now this is what works for us. You may feel that not being with your other every waking moment is unthinkable, and I’m not saying that thinking is wrong. However, if you feel this way during your first go-around in a committed relationship, you might want to consider the words of experience from someone who has done that, been there.

Living Apart Together

Here are several articles that seem to support a growing trend toward committed couples living apart:

And here is a great piece as to why so many couples lose their spark:

Keeping things fresh and interesting doesn’t happen in a stagnant pond. It needs the constant fresh stream of new ideas, perspectives and feelings that happens when each of you is allow to live and breathe as the separate individuals you truly are.


This article was originally published with the Good Men Project; republished with the author’s full (and kindest) permission. 

About the Author:

Michael Russer

Michael J. Russer is a prostate cancer survivor who was left completely impotent as a result of his treatments. Yet, it was because of his impotence that he and his partner discovered an entirely new approach to emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy that far exceeds anything either experienced prior to when things were working "correctly." His mission is to help men, women and couples everywhere to achieve extraordinary intimacy on all levels. He is an international speaker, author and thought leader on the issues of human connection and intimacy. He also speaks pro-bono to Cancer Support Centers and Gilda’s Clubs around the U.S. for cancer survivors and their partners about regaining intimacy in the face of cancer. Go to to explore the possibility of having Michael speak at your next event.Michael is also a champion of the nonprofit men's work being done by the ManKind Project. He completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 2012. To learn more about Michael's work you can visit his website, tune in to his podcast, or watch his TEDx Talk.


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