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HomeEntertainment14 non-corny tips on how to feel close to your partner

14 non-corny tips on how to feel close to your partner

Amy Rose Spiegel

Whether you’re getting to know someone for the first time or you’ve been an item for so long that you could accurately describe the tongue-facing sides of their teeth, making an effort to feel close—outside of just having sex and spending time near each other—is kind of what romance is all about.

Below are some strategies on how to feel close to your partner that do not entail a specialised card game with prompts such as, “If you were a student on your first day at Hogwarts…” (I can’t bring myself to finish this) or involve charting your attachment styles. If any of that’s what makes you feel loved by someone, though? Right on, absolutely go with it. Otherwise: Here’s what’s worked well for me and the people I’m lucky to have gotten to know better.

14 non-corny tips on how to feel close to your partner

1. Get a feel for each other’s comedy lodestars

Tell each other the five movies, memories, people, comic strips or books that have, over your life, best defined your sense of humour. Then watch, read, or otherwise look at the ones your partner tells you about on your own time and talk about it later. (Unless it’s more fun to do it with them, whatever!) One woman I loved was into, very specifically, the second season of SNL. A more recent superfox in my life told me that one of his favourites is an episode of Ramy that deals with sex and post-9/11 racial and religious identity. Ask them to tell you why it’s so funny to them—really try to wrap your head around what makes the person you love laugh. (Ideally, you can then make them die laughing more often yourself—absolutely falling out with tears running down both of your faces is a classic “togetherness” mode, as I know you will agree.)

2. Sneak a candy bar into their bag or coat pocket

Make it either their very favourite (so, for me, I’d discover a 75% Lindt bar nestled next to my thrashed laptop) or something esoteric that they’d never choose for themselves, like whatever says “limited edition” at the checkout: coconut Pocky, a blueberry-muffin-flavored Kit Kat bar, freaky-deaky Haribo creatures.

3. Ask them what their very first memory is and tell them yours

Yes, of course dreams count. Resist the urge to make it mean something about you or them. Just listen and hold it in your head as they do in theirs.

4. If you live together, take on a chore that’s traditionally “theirs” every once in a while

Even if they generally like or take satisfaction in doing it, almost nobody wants to cook, vacuum, make the bed or deal with matters of cat hygiene all the time.

5. Prepare them an unfussy but semi-refined dinner when they’re having a really busy or bad day

Don’t make a big deal out of this; the point is that it’s a quiet way to demonstrate that you have their back and will make a point to enrich their world when their world is kind of gnashing them around in its fearsome jaws. Go with something easy that, even so, reminds them about the existence of elegance, like chicken with artichokes and lemon or eggplant fatteh.

6. Figure out how to balance the effort you make

Gargantuan caveat to the two points above: If you’re overly burdened with your partner’s housework or chores, don’t do either of the last two things under any circumstances. Instead, read and internalize Silvia Federici’s Revolution at Point Zero, then have cocktails or gelato on a roof with your partner and discuss a more equitable approach to handling practical shit. Setting this on a fairer track will do wonders for your happiness and, secondarily, your relationship. Their “not knowing how to do the laundry” will only become more of a yawning chasm between you. It’s not easy to course-correct, but you have to: You will never feel fully respected otherwise.

7. Remember as much as you can when they tell you about their life outside of you

This is the most important one, maybe—the most basic, but something people overlook all the time. Listen closely to the details: Why they got in huge trouble at their eighth birthday party (and not only so you can then make a private joke about it right before they cut the cake at their 34th). How their grandfather was as a parent to their mom. What their favourite fabrics are; what they look for in a table lamp; the names of everyone in their high school friend group.

I know I’m up a tree for someone when I’m so fascinated by them that I only-halfway-joking wish I could write their biography; I know they’re into me when they keep tabs too. I’m thrilled when I get a text from my Heart’s Truest Desire that cites, in a funny way but never at my expense, some shard of me they stashed from a happenstance conversation. Zero in on the particulars in the big wide world of who someone is. That’s one of the Big Three cornerstones of love: trying to understand each other to the point that you each feel, not watched, but watched over; having breakfast together; and listening to pop music from the 1960s that is like an ocean wave in your heart.

8. Bear witness to the minutiae of your partner’s day

Someone told me about this concept some years back, and I’ve thought about it and put it into practice ever since: Ask about and be interested in the sandwich they had for lunch. The errand they’re running. What they saw on their way to work. It’s sort of holy to take their little things seriously—to indicate to someone those component parts of life are special because they’re elementary to their life and to know how their day looks as it unfolds around them.

9. When your partner recommends something they’re all in on (and it sounds halfway decent), actually read it or watch it or listen to it

I keep a running list in my Notes app collecting radio shows, movies, novellas, clothing brands and other life-decorating etcetera that my friends, including my partners, have told me are great. And then I actually take that thing in and talk about it with whoever gave it their imprimatur. Outside of it being a gift to receive someone else’s good taste, now you at least lightly associate each other with something they love, plus you have something novel to talk about (that isn’t just, like, “How was your day?”—a fine question, as outlined above, but discussing ideas is also very nice).

10. Align on efforts to serve something greater than yourselves

Phone bank side by side. Learn to cook a few easy-to-scale meals, then hit up the local community dinner effort (you can ask local libraries, houses of worship, shelters and mutual aid groups where to find a place that could use you). Go to a protest together. Gild your lives with shared purpose; figure out how to offer it forward and out into other people’s well-being. It’s always good to reconfirm—or find out in a new way—that your partner has integrity.

11. Ask them for advice

About work, sure, or some or other hairy scenario you’re facing. It lets them get a better sense of what’s preoccupying you and how you handle your shit, and it reveals more about their values and general approach to a given part of life. Plus, as is always mystifying to me, people often love to help as much as they love to be helped. It’s a kindness to let them know you trust them enough to try.

12. Sleep in their clothes

Dream with their smell on you. Or wear something of theirs out during the day—most hats fit most heads, even if your body sizes are really different.

13. Visit their hometown

If you’re too new as a couple or they hate it there, have them describe the mood and food at the restaurant they went to most, the local plants, and whether they could jaywalk without issue. Look up their first address on Google Maps. You want to be able to picture where they were young, but ideally, you want to walk around in the picture too. The ultimate idea is being able to ask them how they think growing up there contributed to who they are now and more fully grasp and visualise their answer.

14. Take photos of them doing something they love or among the people they spend their best time with.

It’s great to have pictures of the two of you together, but also to allow them into how you see them when they’re happy, and to hold onto that.

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