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How to Make Romance Last in a Long Term Relationship

How to Make Romance Last in a Long Term Relationship

When you see the word “Romance,” what images does your brain conjure? Perhaps you see ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (just before they die) or you think of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and the dreamy Mr. Darcy. While both tales are romantic to a point, they’re certainly nothing to base real life upon. They were both written ages ago, and both were quite dramatic!

Now we meet our husbands and wives on the internet or even dating apps, in bars or through mutual friends. No more do we hear about feuding families and the thrill of breaking rules. So why do we continue to think we can make our romance last if we watch another Nicholas Sparks movie or read a steamy novel?

According to the authors of a 2009 study, companionship love, which is what many couples see as the natural progression of a successful relationship, may be an unnecessary compromise. “Couples should strive for love with all the trimmings,” Acevedo said. “And couples in a long term relationship and wish to get back their romantic edge should know it is an attainable goal that, like most good things in life, requires energy and devotion [1].

Love is really hard because…

Do you remember how it first felt to be with your long-time partner? The butterflies, the anxiety? Where did it all go? Now it’s grocery shopping and splitting utility bills. The only night out you get is the one resulting in an empty fridge. Sound familiar?

As time goes by, we get so used to each other, we can predict the others’ response and behavior. We know what makes them tick and what they love. While this is a great thing on some level, it’s certainly not exciting. And if it isn’t exciting, most couples don’t consider it to be very romantic.

While this is all very normal, it doesn’t feel good. We feel bad for being bored with our significant other and we can’t quite pin-point the moment things changed. But there are a few reasons we feel less romantic over time [2].

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Disappointment: it’s normal to feel that the passion seems to have gone

People and relationships disappoint us over time. At first, everything is new and shiny. We are put on a pedestal and feel attractive and desirable. Then our partner becomes more and more human, as do we, and we become less excited and enthusiastic about each other.

Hurt happens, even if we don’t want it

Hurt happens. Some things hurt worse than others, like forgotten anniversaries or an especially ugly argument. But often times, we shut down when we get our feelings hurt instead of discussing what happened. When a wall is built, it’s difficult to overcome. This can lead to everything but romance.

Taking each other for granted

This one probably hits home the most, right? At the beginning of a relationship, we feel so honored to be loved by our significant other, but after years of being together, marriage or even a family, we forget that we still have choices. If either party wanted to, they could call it quits. Instead, we feel that we did all the hard work we were supposed to, and the romantic feelings that were once so strong feel more like emotions amongst roommates and companions.

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Never, ever give up on romance! You don’t have to compromise

Remember that study on Companionship Love I mentioned earlier? Well that same study found that those who reported greater romantic love were more satisfied in both short and long term relationships. Companion-like love was only moderately associated with satisfaction in both short and long term relationships. And those who reported greater passionate love in their relationships were more satisfied in the short term compared to the long term.

So what does all this mean? Well, it means you need to find a partner who is really there for you and feels like a teammate. Romantic love has the intensity, engagement and sexual chemistry that passionate love has, minus the obsessive component. So if you are confident with your partner, and feel that they contribute to the relationship (and of course you are both physically attracted to each other), you’re on the right track.

Bring the romance back. For good!

When you feel like the spark is dying, or even extinguished, it doesn’t mean you should leave the long term relationship. There are steps to take that can bring that feeling back!

Think of 5 positives for every negative thing in the relationship

Yep, it’s a real thing. While the “itch” or desire to leave/cheat can happen around the third year, it seems the worst around year 7. To help avoid those feelings, consider the 5:1 ratio [3]. For every one negative thing between you and your partner, there should be five positives. While you two have a household to run and maybe even kids to raise, your relationship should still be fun and kind-hearted.

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Add something new to reignite the passion

Sure, the early feelings of constantly wanting to undress your partner fade after about a year. After all, new and exciting can only stay new for so long. But things can still be thrilling! Passion, romance and sexual desire/intimacy are essential to any long term relationship. So engage in new activities together! Whether intimate or casual, break out of your comfort zones [4].

Forget about the routine. Do something spontaneous once in a while!

Instead of sitting around and getting depressed about how “bored” or “boring” your partner seems, do something spontaneous! Don’t make your typical plans to see a movie Friday and do brunch sunday; live in the moment! If you’re together right this second, drop what you’re doing and go to a theme park or aquarium.

Seek arousal-producing activities to create that adrenaline rush again!

Do an activity together that creates an endorphin and adrenaline rush! When those feel-good chemicals rush to your brain, that state of heightened arousal can be transferred to your partner and relationship. Whether it’s an intense workout, a scary movie or a roller-coaster, give it a try.

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Give yourself enough time to think before leaving

While the feeling of a non-romantic relationship can make you want to call it quits, it’s actually best to ride the wave. When those feelings fade and we start to question if we even want to stay in the relationship, it’s really just because we are no longer caught up in the initial “chase” we loved so much in the beginning. Give yourself some time when those doubts creep up and don’t immediately exit the relationship. But if the doubts come back and the attraction and romance do not, then it may be time to assess the situation [5].

Know that the romance is still there somewhere

All of these points combine to make this one: the romance is still in there somewhere. We get so used to each other and that can lead us to take each other for granted. So plan a spontaneous date night, flirt with each other like you did when you first met. See where it takes you. And above all, communicate and be open to the feeling of romance or lack-thereof. You two fell in love for a reason. Remember that.

Featured photo credit: Freestocks.org via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Heather Poole

Technical writer

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Last Updated on April 1, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

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Video Summary

Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

So what can we do?

First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

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But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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