You have an amazing guy in your life, so understandably, your urge may be to stay kampante and not risk doing anything that might screw things up. After all, why take chances by purposely spending time away from him or bringing up notoriously guy-chilling coupledom issues? But while it might be nerve-racking, in order to evolve and build a sturdier connection, you really have to venture out a little.
"Making certain bold calls keeps your relationship moving and allows you both to reveal your true colors," says relationship therapist Jennifer Oikle, PhD, founder of MySoulmate.com. "When you are willing to do that, you forge a stronger, tighter bond, and you keep things interesting." Here are the five dares you need to take. They will pay off--we promise you.
1. Seriously cut back calls to him.
Women have a certain comfort level with chit-chatting multiple times a day about little things. You'd think nothing of calling a friend to discuss a shirt you found on sale, the phenomenally annoying thing your mom said, and so on. Accordingly, you'd establish the same relaxed rapport with a guy you care about. But, here's where you have to take a counterintuitive step and back away. In fact, kind of disappear a bit.
"Checking in frequently with your female friends brings you closer, but paradoxically, it can drive a guy away," says psychotherapist Patricia Covalt, PhD, author of What Smart Couples Know. That's because men use the phone only when they need to get or give information. If you're calling to say hi and start a conversation about the minutia of your life because, to you, that's what a relationship is about, he may jump to the conclusion that you're being needy. It's just a difference in nature.
And hey, so maybe there is a teensy bit of neediness behind your wanting to touch base for no reason once or twice a day. "Women tend to get anxious if they don't hear from their guy, so they call him, seeking the reassurance that things are all right between them," says Covalt. Try this and you'll see how well it works: When his phone is not ringing with updates from you, it makes him wonder what you're doing. Then, when he calls you to check in, he's more excited and invested in the conversation, and his bond to you tightens.
2. Disagree with his opinions.
Obviously, don't tactically voice your opposition to every little statement he makes. That's annoying, not daring. But stating it when you don't see eye-to-eye on something substantial--stuff like politics or moral issues--makes for a healthier relationship. It's tempting to think that not being on the same page means your union isn't as solid as it should be. But in fact, the opposite is true: Not holding back on what you believe in lets him know you aren't a yes-girl, and it makes you more intriguing.
"Men connect through verbal bantering and are attracted to women who challenge them," says Oikle. "They respect a girl more if she can keep pace and get his competitive side riled up." Just don't make him feel stupid when you disagree ("Only an idiot would say that!"). When something comes up that you don't see the same way on, let him know your views and why, then give him the opportunity to explain his position. Not only will it fire you both up, but it'll also help you get to know each other on a more intimate level.
Go to the next page to read about the three remaining relationship-boosting risks!
3. Do your own thing...and don't invite him.
The thinking here is pretty simple: You love each other, so you assume you should spend as much time as possible as a duo. Weeknights, weekends, holidays--you're a couple, and couples socialize and hang together. Sounds nice in theory, but in reality, spending all your spare time as a unit can result in cracks in your connection.
"If you're always together, you won't have much to talk about--you'll both become bored," says Oikle. "There is an actual psychological theory called habituation, which states that when people are together almost every day and get used to that person, their presence no longer elicits a feel-good response."
Beyond that, it's a fact that a guy is way more attracted to a girl who has her own things going on. "When a man feels like he's the only thing a woman has in her life, it puts a lot of pressure on him, and he may freak out and distance himself," says psychotherapist John Amodeo, PhD, author of The Authentic Heart. But, chicks with varied interests and tons of activities that they pursue on their own tend to be more dynamic and exciting, and that will only deepen his passion for you.
Make your own plans at least a few times a week, and don't even offer him the option of coming along, says Barbara Cox, PhD, a psychologist in San Diego. "Otherwise, he'll think you're unable to enjoy yourself without him." Another reason having your own life makes him appreciate you more: It shows that instead of needing him to occupy your time, you want him despite having other stuff to do.
4. Confront him with relationship issues.
The phrase "we have to talk" is a notorious guy-freaking catalyst. So, sometimes a chick will figure it's good relationship glue to avoid telling a dude when something he's done has hurt or confused her. You don't want to rock the boat when things are going well, and also, who wants to risk being branded a nag by nitpicking about couple issues? But in contradiction, keeping quiet doesn't work in the long run, says Covalt. Eventually, you'll build resentment, those tiny love problems will balloon into bigger ones, and you're liable to have a huge blowout that totally wigs him out because it will come as a surprise.
The trick is to bring up issues fairly and honestly. Make it about you and how, specifically, he could really help you out by addressing the problem, says Cox. For example, if it's bugging you that he never plans dates, sit him down and say in a calm voice, "I have been exhausted lately and could use some help planning what we're going to do this coming weekend. Can you take over and figure it out?"
"Guys need clarity, and they want to make their girlfriends happy, but they just aren't always sure how to go about doing that," says Amodeo. "So if you let him know exactly what he's not doing and how he can fix it, he's very likely to jump at the chance."
5. Show your love.
Contemporary love logic has it that no matter how thrilled by a guy you are, it's better to play down your emotions and hide that buzz because if things don't work out, you won't feel so foolish. Some modern women have curtailed opening up as much as they normally would for fear of rejection, or just looking dumb if things don't pan out, says Covalt.
But hiding that side of you can backfire, because guys, like women, actually feel pumped up when their partner fawns over them a bit. Plus, if you hide how you feel, he is going to think you're indifferent and may look for someone who is clearly into him.
How you reveal your lovestruck, mushy side is important. He's dying to hear words that make him feel special, but go a little too far, and it'll make him panic. One idea: When you're out together, say "I always have so much fun with you"...but there's no need to follow up the date with four texts that reaffirm how much you liked being with him. "Keep everything in the moment so it feels light and breezy," says Cox. "When you're with him and you're feeling something, let him know." Your excitement for him will bolster his emotions for you, bringing your union to a higher, happier place.