How to Be Spontaneous in a Relationship

Close up of female couple laughing on sofa

Sarah Mason / Getty Images

Being spontaneous involves changing up your routine with your partner. You might choose to plan something new or unexpected. Acts of spontaneity heighten the excitement in relationships.

For some people, acting spontaneously can be scary. Individuals who fear a negative outcome can have trouble doing something new. If you and your partner routinely watch TV after dinner, for example, changing that activity might feel uncomfortable. You might feel like you’re risking the loss of your security blanket.

Other individuals fear that making a change, even a small one, could mean losing control. If every summer you both visit your family in the south, suggesting a road trip on Route 66 might cause concern. You might worry your partner will not agree to visiting your family again next summer if you do something new this July.

This article discuss why you might feel uncomfortable with being spontaneous and how you can begin to introduce more spontaneity into your relationship.

Reasons Why You're Hesitant to Be More Spontaneous

Let's take a look at some reasons why you might fear adding some more spontaneity to your relationship.

Fear of Rejection

Let’s say you’re in a long-term relationship. You feel like things are getting stale and distant between the two of you. If you’re honest with yourself, you’re bored. But proposing something novel feels like you’d be taking a great risk.

You want to suggest a weekend away from the kids in the mountains to spark things up, let’s say. But you’re afraid. What if your partner thinks this is a terrible idea? You know you’re a people-pleaser or fear rejection. Or you’ve played the role of the person who goes-along-with-things in the relationship since the beginning

Going more deeply with this fear-based thinking, you wonder what if the trip is a failure? You’re afraid it doesn’t pan out, you’ll feel guilt or shame for suggesting it. Because of your partner’s criticism or your own negative self-talk, you are pessimistic. You believe you will suffer the consequences of any misstep.

Difficulty With Conflict and Vulnerability

If you’re in a relationship and having many conflicts, constant bickering could increase your stress levels. You won’t be OK with suggesting a spur-of-the-moment picnic on a sunny Saturday if you’ve been fighting all morning, nor will you want to.

Those with ambivalent attachment styles might avoid arguments. They might be questioning if their partners even love them. They don’t want to rock the boat and take the initiative by being spontaneous. They feel too vulnerable.

Individuals who can voice their concerns and argue easily as well as individuals who are conflict-adverse might both feel uncomfortable suggesting novel date ideas. Or suddenly showing up for lunch at their partner’s office.

Lack of Confidence

When you have self-confidence, you can more easily and confidently take action. You’re not constrained by fears, conflicts or rigid thinking.

When you’re not powered by trust in yourself and in your partnership, it might be challenging to add spontaneity to your relationship. Those who worry about making a mistake might also worry about what others will think. It’s easier to try new things if you feel good about yourself.

Problems With Rumination

If you obsessively replay negative scripts from the past or overthink things, you might be someone who ruminates too much. This can stop you from taking the next step in your career or deepening your relationship.

If you immerse your mind in all the bad things that happened to you in the past, you will likely opt to maintain the status quo rather than take risks. That means you’ll suggest going for a latte at your local café rather than trying a new sex position with the great person you’ve been dating for a year.

According to a recent studyrumination doesn’t only negatively impact your mental health and increase your emotional distress. This persistent focus on negativity affects your physical health as well.

The study reminds us that past research in psychological literature related predominantly to psychological disorders such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Current findings show that rumination relates to somatic problems too, especially intensification of pain symptoms. Rumination results in poor clinical outcomes, too.

While we all are guilty of repetitive thinking from time to time, when rumination impairs your ability to function, it’s time to seek out professional help.

Anxiety

Over 40 million adults in the US suffer with some form of anxiety. Those mired in anxiety struggle with spontaneity. For example, if they’re about to celebrate their anniversary with a special dinner, they’ve gone over the details including what to wear and what to order numerous times.

If their significant other says let’s go to the restaurant where we had our first date instead, it’s hard for those with anxiety to pivot and go with another plan.

Those who are anxious worry about making decisions that aren’t perfect, stress about how others see them and are concerned with taking any risks. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Some have difficulty being spontaneous because they have OCD. This mental illness in which people have obsessions and compulsions keeps them in a perpetual state of anxiety, according to The Cleveland Clinic. Those with OCD have obsessive fears or thoughts they can’t control.

For example, maybe they’re extreme about germs or have to do things in a certain order. Those with OCD also have repetitive behaviors like washing their hands or counting their money over and over.

If you have OCD, you might find it difficult to change up your routines with your partner.

More Sexuality & Intimacy May Increase Spontaneity

Being spontaneous in a relationship can bring you and your partner closer together. You might, for example, decide in the moment to initiate sex. If your regular night for intimacy with your significant other is over the weekend, surprise your partner on a Tuesday afternoon. Of course, get consent and honor boundaries.

Intimate sex is marked by caring, closeness and connection. Intimacy and sex can be intertwined. Results of a recent studyon male-female relationships showed that higher levels of intimacy were associated with higher levels of sexual desire, which then was likely to lead to sexual activity.

Creating novel experiences and spicing up your sex life will rekindle feelings of love. It takes us out of our routines and reminds us about our deep ties. It’s a proven way to improve our relationships.

Learn to Be More Spontaneous

Revitalize your romance by making your relationship a priority. Remind yourself what first brought you to your partner. Doing the following may make you feel less nervous about trying new things, so try these small activities to start getting out of your comfort zone before introducing spontaneity to your relationship:

  • Shift your mindset: Try to open yourself up to being more spontaneous.
  • List your 3 biggest fears: What’s holding you back from being spontaneous? After you identify those, write what you’ll gain by overcoming these fears.
  • Act on a spur-of-the-moment thought: Maybe call an old friend or clear out the junk drawer at a random moment during the day.
  • Connect with one new person. Try to find someone new to strike up a conversation with. Maybe that’s the cashier at the grocery store or a coworker you haven't introduced yourself to yet.
  • Switch up your routine in a small way. Take a different route to the cleaners or try a different coffee shop. You can try a new activity (instead of yoga, try kick-boxing). Or, instead of catching up on cleaning during your lunch hour, go grab some ice cream or take a stroll in the park.

Try These Things to Be More Spontaneous

Now that you might be in a bit more of a spontaneous mindset, try to bring some of your spontaneity to your relationship:

  1. When you feel sexy, devote the afternoon to sex and intimacy.
  2. If you’re the planner and your partner is the spontaneous one, suggest two days of switching roles.
  3. Bring home or bake your partner’s favorite dessert.
  4. Surprise your partner with a gift for no reason.
  5. Take a spontaneous one-hour road trip.
  6. Play video games together.
  7. Take an exercise or cooking class together.
  8. Learn something entirely new together. Maybe watch a webinar about tiny houses or cryptocurrency.
  9. Ride a rollercoaster or go bungee jumping. Going on new adventures can boost your bond with your partner.

A Word From Verywell

Relationships sometimes get dull. It’s natural to even take each other for granted. You can still be genuine and true to yourself by allowing room for spontaneity and possibility. If you have mental health challenges and it’s difficult to be impulsive or let go, speak with a psychologist who can guide you. If you can’t be spontaneous or be yourself, it might be a sign that the relationship isn’t working for you. It could be time to let go of a relationship that is stressing you out.

4 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Sansone RA, Sansone LA. Rumination: relationships with physical healthInnov Clin Neurosci. 2012;9(2):29-34.

  2. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Anxiety Disorders.

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

  4. van Lankveld J, Jacobs N, Thewissen V, Dewitte M, Verboon P. The associations of intimacy and sexuality in daily life: Temporal dynamics and gender effects within romantic relationshipsJ Soc Pers Relat. 2018;35(4):557-576. doi:10.1177/0265407517743076

By Barbara Field
Barbara is writer and speak who is passionate about mental health, overall wellness, and women's issues.