Healthy relationships aren’t necessarily hard — but they do take work.
After all, digging past the outer layer of another human being is emotional labor.
So today, in service of that work, we’re exploring relationship-building activities for couples.
What Activities Bring Couples Closer Together?
Though you don’t want to be too regimented when it comes to building a bond, there are plenty of trust-building activities for couples that can elevate a relationship to the next plateau.
The key is to do things that help peel away the onion layers, allowing you to see the authentic person underneath the facade.
And scientifically speaking, picking activities that release feel-good hormones, like dopamine and endorphins, can bond people on a psychophysical level.
15 Relationship-Building Activities
We’re counting down a list of 15 relationship-building activities that can work for both new couples and old ones.
Pick a few and see how it goes. But remember that forcing other adults to do things is rarely a wise move. We’re all grown and know our likes and dislikes.
So if your partner doesn’t want to try a given activity, find something else.
Moreover, if they reject every relationship-building suggestion, it may be time to consider whether they want to commit to the partnership.
15. Goal Building
There are precious few things in life that feel better than reaching a goal. Since achievement releases dopamine — one of the body’s natural feel-good hormones — couples that establish and attain mutual objectives bond on both an emotional and chemical level.
But be realistic when setting your ambitions. After all, you don’t want the dream to become a constant source of disappointment and discontent.
It’s also important to be aware of the success blues and structure your plans accordingly.
14. Pursue a Mutual Hobby
You don’t need to enjoy all of the same things, but finding at least one activity you both like is a great way to strengthen the relationship. It can even be as simple as having a mutual affection for Netflix-and-chill. So long as you do it together, that’s all that matters.
However, make sure you don’t fall into the “pleasing pit.” That’s when one party agrees to a hobby they know they don’t enjoy just to please the other party. Doing this will only lead to resentment and discord.
13. Question Jar Game
The question jar game is amusing for couples who are getting serious, and it ranks among the more fun relationship exercises.
The premise is simple: both parties write questions on paper and shake them up in a jar. Then, you pick questions one at a time and answer them honestly.
It’s a great way to understand each others’ values and past experiences.
However, don’t throw in a question you really don’t want answered. Is a list of the other people he’s currently attracted to necessary?
12. Volunteer Together
Volunteering is helpful and feels excellent. Plus, strong bonds are forged when you do it with a friend or lover.
Pick a cause you both care about and schedule the same shifts if possible. Not only will that give you time together, but you may also meet other couples who share the same passions and interests.
11. Intimacy Games
For many partners, intimacy is an integral part of the relationship. But depending on background and past experiences, It can also be a difficult hurdle to overcome.
Intimacy games are a great way to break the sexual ice and explore each others’ likes and dislikes.
So long as both parties are consenting adults, have fun!
10. Plan a Vacation Together
Whether you’ve been together for six months or 66 years, planning a vacation with your partner is a fun and positive experience. Try to pick a place that neither of you has visited before. The discovery process will bond you even more.
If your finances aren’t yet tied, talk about who is paying for what sooner rather than later. Leaving it to the last minute can lead to issues and fights.
9. Digital Fast
We live in the digital age, and nearly everyone is connected to a screen for most of the day. But if you want to push your relationship to the next level, stepping AFK together can go a long way.
Plan for the event. Make sure you have a list of potential activities ready to go. When the day comes, cherish each moment and make a conscious effort to connect with your partner.
8. Active Listening
Active listening allows each party to offload their thoughts. Plus, it’s an excellent workout for the self-control and selflessness muscles. Interrupting isn’t allowed, and curiosity — not anger — should guide the conversation.
For example, if your partner says something that at first sounds mean or negative, ask questions when it’s your turn to speak instead of blowing up and storming off.
When done correctly, active listening can be an exceptionally productive communication tool.
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7. Befriend Other Couples
Never abandon your single friends after coupling up. It’s rude. Plus, you may just find they’re no longer around when the going gets rough. However, adding “couple friends” to your social milieu is also smart and can be a way to see healthy relationships modeled for you.
Moreover, the dynamic is different when you hang out with other pairs. After all, single people often prefer to be around other single people.
6. Admiration Lists
Admiration lists may sound a tad cheesy at first, but life can often benefit from a dab of fromage.
So how does it work? You and your partner write a list of things you admire about the other and exchange them.
However, it’s crucial to establish a few ground rules to prevent the exercise from going south. For starters, clear your mind of expectations. If you’re fishing for X and they go with Y, don’t have a fit.
Enjoy the compliment they give you — even if it’s not the one you wanted! Also, set a number. It’s never fun when one person writes a list of 20 things, and the other person can only crank out two.
Pro Tip: If your partner only lists physical and material things, you may want to start reevaluating the relationship.
5. Entertain Together
Nesting is a way for couples to bond — and you needn’t wait until moving in together to give it a shot. Co-hosting dinner parties is an introductory form of nesting that doesn’t require a long-term commitment. Think of it as a way to dip your pinky toe over the “getting serious” line.
Entertaining together is also a fun relationship-building activity for couples who’ve been married for years! It breaks up the monotony, which reignites sparks.
4. Exercise Together
Exercise releases endorphins — and endorphins are happy juice for the mind and body. Hence, working out with someone and sharing the joint endorphin rush builds strong “chemical” bonds.
However, it’s essential to find exercises you both enjoy. If one party loathes the activity, their displeasure and resentment will squash the good vibes.
3. Make a Budget
If you’re headed toward marriage, you’ll have to talk about money at some point. Increasingly, couples take it one step further and do a couple’s budget trial. It’s a great way to determine if you’re financially compatible before tying the knot.
2. Swap Responsibilities
There’s no better way to gain a deeper appreciation for your partner than to step into their shoes. To be clear, we’re not advocating a job takeover. But swapping household chores and errands can be an eye-opening and bonding experience.
1. Spend Time Apart
It may be cliche, but it’s also true: absence can, indeed, make the heart grow fonder. Moreover, it’s healthy to spend some time away from your partner. After all, you’re two different people. Plus, being apart gives you time to miss each other, an essential component for any successful partnership.
Forging a stronger bond with your significant other is often exhilarating, deeply emotional, and can happen whether you’ve been together for two months or 720.
If you have any relationship-building skills examples that we didn’t include, please tell us about them on Instagram!