The first few months of a new relationship are nothing short of magical. You want to spend every minute together. All of your conversations are enthralling. You laugh at each otherâ€™s jokes as if youâ€™re the funniest two people on the planet. You spend hours making out like teenagers…sometimes even in public. Itâ€™s like your days and nights are a montage scene from a romantic movie â€“ you can almost hear â€śIâ€™m walking on sunshineâ€ť playing as you skip down the street, hand in hand.
SFX: needle scratching across a recordâ€¦
Until, one day, it stops.
Real life sets in. You both take off the rose-colored glasses and start to see one another not as the very image of perfection you projected, but as actual human beingsâ€¦with flaws. Your romantic date nights filled with deep conversation and passion have been replaced with ordering in pizza and watching Netflix. One day you wake up and realize, â€śHmmm, when was the last time we actually kissed?â€ť
The thrill is gone.
But is it gone forever? Isnâ€™t there something that can be done?
Lenalee from our DWD Facebook Community wonders this very thing. She asks: How can you repair a long term relationship that has become boring? If your guy is telling you he’s not feeling ‘it’ Can you do anything about that? Is it possible to re-create the passion and desire like the honeymoon phase again?
The short answer: Yes, itâ€™s possible. But itâ€™s going to require effort from both partners, and not just in the ways you might expect.
First, you must both understand: Love is a choice, not just an emotion.
When youâ€™re in a committed relationship, you and your partner must wake up each day choosing to love each other, whether youâ€™re feeling that warm-and-fuzzy feeling or are still annoyed from a disagreement you had the night before. You donâ€™t expect that every day is going to be rainbows and rosesâ€¦ BUT you donâ€™t just settle for being stuck in a rut, either. When you face challenges in your relationship (not just arguments, but boredom, too), you are each willing to put in some effort to strengthen your bond and turn things around.
In Lenaleeâ€™s case, if her boyfriend expressed concern that theyâ€™re in a rut but is willing to do his part to reinvigorate the relationship, then there is definitely hope to get the spark back.
If, however, heâ€™s bummed out because heâ€™s not feeling fireworks every day and thinks itâ€™s somehow all Lenaleeâ€™s fault, this isnâ€™t good news. This kind of attitude is a sure sign of immaturity and unreasonable expectations for a relationship â€“ namely, that he thinks itâ€™s Lenaleeâ€™s job to make his life exciting.
Which brings me to my next point: You are responsible for your own happiness. Your partner is responsible for his. A relationship is only healthy when two individuals leading happy lives come together with a desire to share them. When one partner is unhappy and gloms onto the other hoping they will â€ścompleteâ€ť them, itâ€™s a recipe for disaster. If Lenaleeâ€™s boyfriend is bored, I suspect it has a lot more to do with his own inner discontent than a genuine problem with the relationship.
In factâ€¦There are no boring relationships. Only people who settle for boring lives. Sure, there are some long-term relationships that donâ€™t work out because, ultimately, the couple wasnâ€™t compatible. Or one partner refuses to grow and evolve, leaving the other to feel stifled in the relationship. But for a couple who once enjoyed fun, lively conversation, passion and excitement and is now stuck in a rut, the solution to a rekindled relationship is often counter-intuitive: Focus on yourself.
What are some things you used to do before you got comfortable in your relationship that brought you joy? Did you run, journal, try new restaurants with friends, enjoy sunrise hikes, sing in the shower because there was no one around to hear? Itâ€™s time to reconnect with those things that brought you happiness.
Itâ€™s all too easy, when we get settled in a relationship, to let those things slide because we donâ€™t think we have the time or weâ€™ve lost interest because itâ€™s soooo much more enjoyable to veg out on the couch with our significant other and watch reruns of CSI. Thatâ€™s baloney! In order to have balance in our romantic relationships, we must do things that fulfill us an individual.
In Lenaleeâ€™s case, she should definitely reconnect with the things that make her happy (I call it â€śDating Yourself Firstâ€ť â€“ and I explain exactly how to do it in Chapter 2 of Dating Without Drama). No matter what happens in her relationship, sheâ€™ll feel an instant boost of her own. And though this shouldnâ€™t be her motivation, by invigorating her own life, she may very well discover that her boyfriend wakes up from his haze of boredom and says to himself, â€śheyâ€¦waitaminute. Something seems different about her! Sheâ€™s excited about her life, sheâ€™s busy â€“ she can barely find time to hang out with me! I feel so attracted to her. Itâ€™s like when I was first pursuing her!”
But â€“ and itâ€™s a big BUT â€“ her boyfriend must be willing to reincorporate into his life activities and passions of his own. The effort that Lenalee is putting in to make her own life more interesting WILL pep up the relationship temporarily, but unless her boyfriend is focusing on his own happiness as well, eventually they will plummet right back into that rut. The thing thatâ€™s difficult about this is that we donâ€™t have any control over our partnerâ€™s actions. Only time will tell if he will follow through.
Relationships do require maintenance. Just like a car needs regular maintenance to run smoothly, so does your partnership. In addition to reconnecting with your own personal interests and passions, there are a few things that you can do to actually rev up your relationship.
1. Donâ€™t take the easy way out. Itâ€™s Friday night, youâ€™ve both had a long week at work â€“ of course itâ€™s going to sound more appealing to crash on the couch with some takeout and catch up on your DVR. Instead, put on a sexy dress and heels and go out to a nice restaurant. Youâ€™ll actually talk to each other, for starters, and youâ€™ll be much more likely to continue the romance after a glass of wine by candlelight rather than shuffling off to bed with soy sauce on your sweats.
2. Recreate your first date. If you can make it back to the scene of your first date, do it. When you get there, flirt, flirt, flirt! Talk about your first impressions of one another, tell stories about the beginning of your romance. Nothing rekindles the spark like reminding yourselves exactly how you felt when you just met.
3. Ask new questions. When youâ€™re in a rut, conversation can sometimes feel like de ja vu. How was your day? What did you do at work today? When are you going to fix the dryer? Will your mother ever butt out of our business? Try, for just one night, to ask each other some really interesting questions: What is one quality about your character thatâ€™s really important to you? If we could take a trip anywhere in the world together, where would you want to go? Whatâ€™s the one thing you want people to remember about you when you’re gone? There is something so exciting about learning something new about the person youâ€™ve been with for a really long time.
4. Try something adventurous together. If passion is what youâ€™re after, try signing up for couplesâ€™ salsa lessons. Itâ€™s also a scientific fact that adrenaline-producing activities like riding a rollercoaster or skydiving mimic the feeling of infatuation during the honeymoon phase of a relationship, so instead of dinner and a movie, head to the amusement park and see what a playful day together does to reignite the spark.
Itâ€™s just not possible to continually live in the honeymoon phase of a relationship. Real life doesnâ€™t work that way. But with a commitment to stick together through the ups and downs, and a concerted effort to work on yourselves as individuals as well as the relationship itself, you can enjoy a passionate connection that will never let you forget why you fell in love in the first place.
Want YOUR burning question to be answered next week? Go to my Facebook page anytime Monday-Thursday and post your question. On Thursdays, I’ll answer the one with the most “Likes.”