The summer months often see an increase in the number of weekend commitments, from seeing friends and family, to barbecues and holidays, and of course weddings. According to the Office of National Statistics 58% of weddings take place on a Saturday, and 42% between July and September, which means for many couples weekends are likely to be taken up with weddings.
Having a busy social calendar often increases pressure on couples, especially after a hectic work week. Its therefore not surprising that according to Facebook May to August sees a huge decline in the number of people listed as "in a relationship".
During the busy summer months it is important to invest time and effort in your relationship. I recently teamed up with lastminute.com to investigate the impact being spontaneous had on 30 couples and whether these small gestures made a difference to how couples acted and felt.
The study revealed that ditching the routine and introducing regular 'planned spontaneity' boosted sexual activity, increased happiness by a full day and a half per week and helped relationships stay out of the 'dating danger zone'.
In just one week of living their lives more spontaneously, couples noted a remarkable change in their relationships. 4 in 5 couples reported a significant improvement in levels of confidence, communication and intimacy in their relationships. The study, which tested the effect that swapping predictability for spontaneity had on couples, found that unexpected gestures of love led to twice as much intimacy such as kissing and cuddling and a 33% increase in bedroom action, with the number of couples having sex on a daily basis quadrupling and the number not having sex at all reducing by half.
The lastminute.com study was particularly interesting as it found that women are, in essence, less spontaneous than men, and indicates that they take a quiet yet dominant role in organising their social lives. Clearly there are benefits to women relaxing more and embracing impulsiveness. The excitement and anxiety they feel when surprised by their other half increases libido and heightens sexual attraction, leading to quicker and easier seduction, which is great for their partners. One piece of advice for men - give your partner an inkling of the surprise so she has time to prepare, then reap the rewards!
A considerable 80% of the couples in the study agreed the experience had a positive effect on their relationship, and plan to maintain a similar level of unexpected activity in the future. Of all the positive benefits, it was the increase in communication between couples that a third (34%) of women hailed as the best take home from the study. For men, having more opportunities to kiss and cuddle their girlfriends came top (30%).
While we know the summer may be commitment heavy, injecting a small amount of spontaneity into your relationship will ensure your relationship isn't. Here are my top tips for being a bit more spontaneous in love:
- While men seem to enjoy the excitement that a truly spontaneous gesture brings, women would much rather have a few hints dropped and prepare themselves for the moment - take heed for this thought guys, you can keep it a surprise but a little hint by email or text to show you have something special in mind will go a long way!
- Think about breaking your routine not only tonight, but once or possibly twice a week. Don't go overboard though, any more than that and the excitement level can turn into anxiety and fatigue
- Balance big gestures like a weekend away or a meal out with small gestures which are hugely appreciated by both men and women - like sending an unexpected text or leaving love notes for your partner or buying them some flowers. Shaking up a routine is good
- Recognise some sort of routine as an important anchor and stabilising force in your relationship and don't rush headlong into all your ideas for routine-busting surprises too quickly or at an inappropriate time. Think about how your partner might react and respond and modify your plans accordingly. The success lies in 'planned spontaneity' and managing perceived anxiety levels - even if you know these will be overcome by the activity itself
- Let the mood take you... Technology is an amazing thing so use it to your advantage, booking a romantic hotel after a meal or simply sending a romantic text will show you're thinking of your special someone.
The couples study was led by Jo Hemmings for lastminute.com as part of its campaign for a more spontaneous Britain