You meet someone new. You think about them all the time and can’t wait until the moment when you see them next. You can’t eat, sleep or concentrate. You check your phone a hundred times a day to see if you missed their call or text. You feel energized like never before, you have butterflies, feel nervous and worry about what you do or say when you’re with this new person. You’re in the romantic love stage of a relationship and it feels so wonderful and magical and you want it to last forever.
But it doesn’t. The spark faded, the thrill is gone. Now what?
You may panic, wondering if you made a mistake or if you’re not meant to be together. You should always have those feelings for someone if you’re in love, right? Research says no. For every relationship, it’s natural and normal for the I-can’t-stop-thinking-about-you feelings of romantic love to fade over time. In fact, on average, it only lasts about 18 months.
The couples I work with commonly talk about dampened desire, getting too comfortable and being bored. It’s easy for a relationship to feel stuck in a rut. It may sound unromantic to have to create the conditions to reignite passion with your partner, but it can be achieved:
- Give each other space. When you initially met, you probably didn’t know what your partner was doing every day. You fantasized about what they were up to during your time apart, eagerly awaiting the time you could be together again. Now that you’re in a relationship, you spend more time in each other’s company. Although that’s important for you to maintain a connection, you also need time apart. As the Poet Kahlil Gibran recommended, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness.” You need some degree of separateness from your partner in order to maintain passion and desire from them. When a reward (the reward being your sexy self) is delayed, it increases brain chemicals that help stimulate romantic passion. Take different classes, engage in different hobbies or take a night off to do your own thing. Missing each other is a good thing.
- Get out of routine. Some of my couples call each other at the same time every day, or have date night the same night of the week. With routine comes boredom or a sense of obligation – “It’s that time, I have to call her….” It can be tough to feel hot and heavy for your partner when you also feel bored. Mix it up! Go to a comedy show on a weeknight or take a Ferris Bueller Day and play hooky with your partner. Variety is key to keeping things fresh. Do a boredom check – studies show that boredom predicted declines in relationship satisfaction over time. If one of you is bored, brainstorm what you can change up.
- Do novel things together. Do you ever wonder if the Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants really mean it when they profess love to each other so quickly? Believe it! Studies show that exciting experiences not only enhance attraction, but couples who do thrilling things together feel more satisfied in their relationship. Develop a variety of interests, especially those that both of you would find exhilarating. For some of you it may be skydiving or a day riding roller coasters, but even going to an event last-minute or playing tourist in your own city can work, too. Add some fun challenges to your relationship. Do you and your partner root for opposing sports teams? Place bets and loser gives winner a massage or makes dinner. Just remember to keep it light and playful!
The bottom line is that effort is required to maintain passion. Giving your relationship space to miss each other, adding variety and sharing in new experiences can all boost your relationship out of any rut.