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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

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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