1. Say “I Love You” Every Day
Barbara De Angelis, personal-development expert: Say it as often as possible. There’s no reason to be emotionally stingy with the person you love.
Nancy Kalish, psychologist: I agree that it should be said often, but it should be said sincerely, so it means something. Not just “Good-bye. Love you.”
2. Play Hard to Get
Sam Yagan, dating-website cofounder: Playing hard to get starts the relationship off on a deceptive foot. If you want your relationship to be based on trust, honesty, and communication, why would you begin it like that?
Greg Behrendt, coauthor of He’s Just Not That Into You: You shouldn’t play hard to get; you should be hard to get, because your life is so busy and fulfilling. My wife and I call it being a MOD―a moving object of desire.
3. Your Spouse Shouldn’t Be Your Best Friend
Pepper Schwartz, sociologist: I agree. I think you’re asking a lot of your marriage to have the level of confidentiality, truthfulness, and disclosure that a best friendship has. Your marriage can fulfill only so many roles.
De Angelis: I disagree. If your spouse isn’t your best friend, then what is he? I think it’s important that you not only love him but like him a lot, too.
John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus: I have no problem with partners who are best friends, but you should have other close friends to confide in as well―especially when you are having relationship difficulties and need time away from your spouse. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
4. Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
De Angelis: A little bit of absence can help you appreciate your partner. Too much is dangerous. Relationships need connection, and it’s challenging to stay connected when you aren’t spending time together.
Schwartz: To a point―and then absence makes the heart go roaming. You need a steady diet of intimacy and the other person’s presence to remember why you’re in the relationship. If you don’t see each other often enough, you can start to lead parallel lives instead of lives that intersect.
Yagan: Absence can make the desire and lust for your partner grow. But it can also lead to stress in a relationship, because phone calls or text messages aren’t substitutes for real conversation.
5. You Can Learn to Love Someone
Judy Kuriansky, sex therapist: That’s true, depending on how you define love. You may not have the love-at-first-sight kind of love, but the deep companion kind of love―in terms of trusting each other and being a team―can develop over time.
Behrendt: No, that sounds like settling. I don’t believe in settling, because it’s not fair to the person you’re with or yourself. It’s not like settling on an apartment you don’t love but can live with.
Want more relationship advice? Learn the secrets to a happy marriage from other Real Simple readers.