By Alexandra Foster

Ah, the honeymoon phase, the four-hour long phone conversations, pet names, cuddling, creative dates and smiles all around. Everything’s new. Everything’s fun. Everything’s exciting. It’s drama-free and sexy. It is, without a doubt, the best part of any new relationship. Like most good things, it eventually fades, but it need not fade out completely. Here are five tips on how to keep the honeymoon phase alive.

Continue to date

When you start dating, there’s almost too much to do — dinners, movies and baseball games. Just holding hands and going for a walk is exciting. Somewhere between meeting the parents and your first fight, the dates get routine or, even worse, nonexistent. The couch looks better than the movie theatre. Ordering pizza takes the place of going out to eat. The solution? Don’t get complacent.

“My boyfriend and I are always really busy, but we make sure to go out on fun dates, just the two of us, every now and then,” says Britt, who has been dating her boyfriend for the past two years.  “It’s a great way to take a break from everything else and just enjoy each other. The honeymoon phase lasted a couple months, but we still go on dates. We try and find new things to do together. We try new restaurants, new activities. Even trying new wines or new beer can make things exciting.”

Learn to appreciate what the other person likes

I can tell you right now that I don’t like football or hiking or war movies or dark beer. I don’t like dogs with yappy barks or skiing or snow in general. But when I’m dating someone who likes these things, you can bet that I’m starting to appreciate them a lot more, especially when the honeymoon phase is beginning to fade.

“My boyfriend’s really into hockey. I make sure to get him hockey tickets and go to the games with him and pretend like I care about his fantasy hockey league,” says Jarvie, who has been dating her boyfriend for over a year. “In return, he’ll get me tickets to Broadway shows because I love theatre. He doesn’t do it because he loves it; he does it because he loves me and he knows I love it.”

Surprise!

If you know women, you know they love nice surprises. They break up the routine and show you still care enough to thrill her.

“A guy I’m dating slipped a card into my purse the other day,” says Cara. “It wasn’t necessarily for any reason, but it showed that he was thinking about me.”

Some ideas: Plan a date that you know she’ll love. If she’s into being outdoors, find an awesome place to hike. If she’s a big Yankees fan, get her tickets to the game. Pick her up at the door for dinner with a single rose in hand. Rent her favorite movie and cook her dinner. Make her breakfast in bed. Send her a dozen roses for no reason at all. And in an era where technology is a part of our daily lives, it’s worth using the Internet to surprise your woman. Send an e-card or a quick e-mail saying that you’re thinking of her. Surprises are unpredictable and when a relationship becomes too predictable, it’s (surprise!) heading straight to honeymoon hell.

keep love alive

Keep things spicy, and not just in the kitchen

It’s easier said than done, but it’s one of the best ways to keep a relationship hot. In the beginning of a relationship, the sex is constantly fun (emphasis on the constant.) But guys, remember, it’s not all about the different positions and different techniques. There’s more to keeping your sex life titillating than just the sex itself. Women like to cuddle, and not just post-orgasm. Oxytocin (also known as the cuddle hormone) is one of the best foreplays for women. Being touched increases the rise of oxytocin, arousing your girl both physically and emotionally.

“One technique to keep a great romance going is for the spouses/partners to act like they are having an affair with each other,” says Diana Kirschner, Ph.D., a psychologist. “Think about what happens in an extramarital affair — teasing and flirting. The excitement of an affair pivots on gestures that aren’t consummated — the lingering touch, the sweet nibble on the ear, the deep kiss, the suggestive glance that may or may not go any further. There is a playful novelty and uncertainty that drive up dopamine, the falling-in-love brain chemical which, in turn, creates anticipation, excitement and focus on the beloved. Infatuation sizzles. So, get into that same frame of mind with your partner/spouse.”

Get out of town

One of the main reasons the honeymoon phase could end is because the humdrum routines of everyday life can get so, well, boring. The same faces, same restaurants, same problems at work, same printer issues, same bed sheets.

Taking a weekend romantic getaway will give you and your girl the opportunity to relax and spend some time together away from the routines of your daily life. “I live in Michigan, so it’s not super far from Chicago,” says John, 30. “When things with my girl are feeling like we could use a break from reality, we’ll sometimes go to Chicago for a night or two. We’ll grab a nice dinner or see a play. Sure, it’s hard to come back to reality after a relaxing weekend, but I often find it’s just what we needed to get back on track.”

A weekend alone with your girl, free of daily hassles and distractions, is like a honeymoon in itself.

(Alexadra Foster writes about women and relationships for Made Man.)