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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 February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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