Advertising
Advertising

Published on September 26, 2017

A Stable but Predictable Relationship Is the Nightmare for All Lovers

A Stable but Predictable Relationship Is the Nightmare for All Lovers

You were once mesmerized by that smile. You got lost in those eyes. Just being near them was enough. And you just couldn’t get enough of them.

He/she was like the most delectable piece of fruit. The perfect apple—the apple of your eye. Shiny, polished, deep-red perfection. All you saw in this world was only this unique apple, nothing else.

But as time goes, you have started to get used of his/her presence. That smile and those eyes aren’t as special as they were. Suddenly you realize that there are more than this apple in this world. You’re surrounded by oranges, mangoes, bananas, kiwi and other more exotic fruit. Your prefect, red and shiny apple seems boring and dull.

A stable relationship is good, but also predictable and boring.

In relationships, no matter how hot and heavy you start off, you will eventually cool off and fall into the rut of normalcy. You get used to each other and can predict each others’ actions.

Advertising

You eat at the same restaurant, order the same entree and spend all of your weekends the exact same way. You don’t watch what you say or do any more. You are comfortable with each other.

The relationship has become stable but predictable and boring. The problem with stability is that it tricks our brain into looking for stimulation. A study covered in ABC news shows that the brain loves surprises.[1] It craves excitement and new experiences. It’s how we’re wired. The problem with this natural tendency is it leads us into believing that the relationship is somehow flawed because the feeling of excitement and intense passion has faded.

Once the excitement and passion die, you tend to lose interest in the relationship and then your partner. You stop working. You stop seeking common ground and to understand each other. Six out of ten couples are unhappy with their relationships, siting lack of spontaneity, romance and sex as the primary factors contributing to their dissatisfaction.[2]

When the romance dies and you begin to lose interest, your relationship will begin quickly tumbling towards its demise unless you proactively begin to work to counteract and embrace this new slower pace.

Advertising

Most people handle the boredom in a way that only makes the relationship worse.

When deciding how to handle the boredom and salvage your relationship, couples handle it differently. Yet they don’t realize the way they try to save their relationship isn’t really helping.

Some seek excitement outside of their relationship.

Dating other people or seeking other forms of excitement outside of your relationship will provide you a temporary reprieve from the boredom. Yet these people still choose to stay in a relationship because it is the safe thing to do.

Choosing to stay in a relationship because it’s safe and even comfortable is selfish and unfair to your partner. You’ll end up wounding your significant other with “extracurricular” activities. The excitement outside of the current relationship won’t last either. You will create an infinite loop that will have to be repeated over and over. It will be an endless loop of heartbreaks and betrayed partners.

Some end the relationship out of boredom.

The moment these people realize that the apple in their eye isn’t that special, and that they are surrounded by different fruits, it’s easy to just move on. They see opportunities everywhere and there is no point staying with this apple when other fruits are so handy.

Advertising

Love trumps excitement. Choosing to end the relationship because of boredom could cost you a once in a lifetime opportunity. In every relationship, the honeymoon will end. It is an inevitable and unavoidable phase of love. Understanding and accepting that all relationships will become stable and a bit routine is the first step towards experiencing pure love and having a mature adult relationship.

Moving on when excitement wanes also drives you towards another infinite loop cycle. You will go from partner to partner and end relationship after relationship searching for excitement. You may achieve pockets of excitement but you will forfeit true love. True love emerges in the everyday grind. When the relationship becomes monotonous that’s a sign that it’s time to work not run.

Some stick to their routines and hope things will get better.

Refrain from adopting the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it attitude.” These couples are a bit underwhelmed by the relationship but they may feel that things are okay the way they are. Nothing’s wrong per se, so they feel they shouldn’t fiddle with things and end up making the situation worse. However, when it comes to relationship, “okay” doesn’t equal good. A relationship is perpetual work. Read more about why “Okay” Is a Toxic Cop Out

Keeping the same routine after realizing that you and your partner are bored by the relationship is a bad idea. Things don’t just get better. You have to make them better.

Advertising

To spice up a boring relationship, change the routines.

Boredom in a relationship signifies that you and your partner are comfortable with each other and you know each other pretty well. This is a good thing. It signifies that the relationship is stable and both partners are at ease. You have a routine and routines provide stability and a sense of security and calm. These are good things too.

However, acceptance doesn’t mean that your relationship should stay in a stagnate and uninspired state. It means that you should look at boredom as a positive part of a healthy relationship and then work to deepen your bond and spice things up.

Relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala believes that when couples engage in new, challenging and exciting things together, they can reignite the passion and invigorate the relationship.[3] She suggests that both partners try new things and tackle a task together as a couple. You can actually add spontaneity out of some of the routines you have. Below are a few examples:

  • Go camping on weekends if the usual weekend activity is shopping.
  • Recreate your first date.
  • Take a class together.
  • Do something adventurous and a little scary. Go to an amusement park, bungee jumping, sky diving, go carting, zip-lining or something else that excites and excites you both.
  • Plan and go on a staycation.
  • Surprise your spouse with a romantic evening. Pull out all the stops and surround them with all of their favorite things.
  • Try a 30 day challenge where you do something different–out of your normal routine–everyday.
  • Commit to a standing date night. Go out, stay in, whatever a date means to you as a couple–commit and make it happen.

In the end, you decide the type of relationship you have. Whenever you hit a time where the fun, spontaneity and excitement seem to dissipate, just remember that it is just a phase and all relationships experience the dreaded rut. Then find creative ways to spice things up.

Couples who find ways to add novelty and excitement to their relationship report higher levels of relationship satisfaction. Once you embrace the fact that boredom will come and go throughout your relationship, you can proactively deal with the boredom and maintain an exciting relationship with your partner no matter how long you have been together.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Anna Chui

Communication Expert

271 Best Answers on Quora You Might Have Missed Last Year 53 Relationship Questions That Will Change Your Love Life Workout Every Day: Thursday Music Playlist 35 Life Hacks for Kids That Make Parenting Easier And More Fun 25 Inspirational Movie Quotes That Will Teach You The Most Valuable Life Lessons

Trending in Psychology

1Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts 2Being in Narcissism Relationships Is Like Playing With Fire. It Is Risky. 313 Crippling Social Anxiety Symptoms Explained & How to Deal with Them 48 Powerful Reasons to Love Your Enemies 5Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on July 13, 2018

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts

What if you could discover some tools and methods that could improve your relationships? What if by gaining a little knowledge you could understand your relationship dynamics better and give them a boost up?

By learning what secure attachment is and how to restructure your thoughts, you can become more self-aware of your relationship dynamics. After becoming more aware, you can then take a few steps to make them better than ever. That’s something that many of us could benefit from.

When we hear the term secure attachment, our mind typically goes to a relationship. And that’s exactly what it’s about.

In this article I’ll discuss the concept of secure attachments in more detail and how restructuring your thoughts can help you strive towards achieving better relationships.

Relationships are a hugely important part of our lives and whatever we can do to improve them is a good thing for everyone involved.

What is attachment theory?

Let’s do a quick overview of what attachment theory is. This will provide a good foundation for the rest of this article.

The esteemed psychologist John Bowlby first coined the term attachment theory in the late 60’s. Bowlby studied early childhood conditioning extensively and what he found was very interesting.

His research showed that when a very young child has a strong attachment to a caregiver, it provides the child with a sense of security and foundation. On the other hand when there isn’t a secure attachment, the child will expend a lot more developmental energy looking for security and stability.

The child without the secure attachment tends to become more fearful, timid and slow to explore new situations or their environment.

Advertising

When a strong attachment is developed in a child, he or she will be inclined to be more adventurous and seek out new experiences because they feel more secure. They know that whoever is watching out for them will be there if needed.

Bowlby’s colleague, Mary Ainsworth, took the theory further. She did extensive studies around infant-parent separations and provided a more formal framework for the differing attachment styles.

How attachment develops

Simply put, attachment is an emotional bond with another person. Attachment doesn’t have to go both ways, it can be one person feeling attached to another without it being reciprocated. Most of the time, it works between two people to one degree or another.

Attachment begins at a very young age. Over the history of time, when children were able to maintain a closer proximity to a caregiver that provided for them, a strong attachment was formed.

The initial thought was that the ability to provide food or nourishment to a child was the primary driver of a strong attachment.

It was then discovered that the primary drivers of attachment proved to be the parent/caregivers responsiveness to the child as well as the ability to nurture that child in a variety of ways. Things such as support, care, sustenance, and protection are all components of nurturing a child.

In essence a child forms a strong attachment when they feel that their caregiver is accessible and attentive and there if they need them; that the parent/caregiver will be there for them. If the child does not feel that the caregiver is there to help them when needed, they experience anxiety.

Different types of attachments

In children, 4 types of attachment styles have been identified. They are as follows:

  • Secure attachment – This is primarily marked by discomfort or distress when separated from caregivers and joy and security when the caregiver is back around the child. Even though the child initially feels agitated when the caregiver is no longer around, they feel confident they will return. The return of the parent or caregiver is met with positive emotions, the child prefers parents to strangers.
  • Ambivalent attachment – These children become very distressed when the parent or caregiver leaves. They feel they can’t rely on their caregiver for support when the need arises. Even though a child with ambivalent attachment may be agitated or confused when reunited with a parent or caregiver, they will cling to them.
  • Avoidant attachment – These kids typically avoid parents or caregivers. When they have a choice of being with the parent or not, they don’t seem to care one way or the other. Research has shown that this may be the result of neglectful caregivers.
  • Disorganized attachment – These children display a mix of disoriented behavior towards their caregiver. They may want them sometimes and other times they don’t. This is sometimes thought to be linked to inconsistent behavior from the parent or caregiver.

What attachments mean to adults

So the big question is how does this affect us in adulthood? Intuitively it makes sense that as a child, if we have someone who will be there when we need them, we feel secure. And on the other end of the spectrum, if we aren’t sure someone’s going to provide what we need when we need it, we may become more anxious and fearful.

Advertising

As an adult, we tend to wind up in one of three primary attachment types based on our childhood experiences. These are secure, avoidant, and anxious. Technically, there is a fourth one, anxious-avoidant, but it is quite a bit less common. They are described as follows:

  • Secure – When you have a secure attachment, you are comfortable displaying interest and affection towards another person but you’re also fine being alone and independent. Secure types are less apt to obsess over a relationship gone sour and handle being rejected easier. Secure types also tend to be better than other types with not starting relationships with people that might not be the best partners. They cut off the relationship quicker when they see things in a potential partner they don’t like. Secure attachment people make up the majority of the attachment types.
  • Anxious – Folks who have an anxious attachment style typically need a lot of reassurance from their partners. They have a much harder time being on their own and single than the other styles and fall into bad relationships more often. The anxious style represent about 20% of the population. It’s been shown that if anxious attachment styles learn how to communicate their needs better and learn to date secure partners, they can move towards the secure attachment style.
  • Avoidant – Avoidant attachment style represents approximately 25% of the population as adults. Avoidants many times have the hardest time in a relationship because they have a difficult time finding satisfaction. In general, they are uncomfortable with close relationships and intimacy and are quite independent. They are the lone wolf type person.
  • Anxious-avoidant – The anxious-avoidant style is relatively rare. It is composed of conflicting styles – they want to be close but at the same time push people away. They do things that push the people they are closest to away. Many times there can be a higher risk of depression or other mental health issues.

Here’s where it gets really interesting:

Move towards secure attachment

The good news is that it is possible to move from one style to another. Specifically, it is possible to move towards a more secure attachment style.

Now as you might imagine, this is not an easy or a quick process. Like any type of big change where you are attempting to alter such a deeply ingrained mindset, it takes a strong will to accomplish.

The first step is developing an awareness of your attachment style. The next step is to have the desire and drive to move your attachment style towards the more secure style.

If someone with an anxious or avoidant style has a long term relationship with a secure type, the anxious or avoidant person can slowly get brought up more towards a secure style.

The opposite is also true, they could bring the secure person more towards their attachment style. Therefore, you have to be conscious of your type and if you want to move more towards secure, it takes persistence.

Therapy is an option as well. Anxious types many times need to work on their self-esteem, avoidants on their connection specifically and compassion.

How to restructure your thoughts

Ready for the way to do it? Here we go:

Advertising

For the Avoidant Style

As with any type of change on such a deep level, the first step is awareness. Realize you have an avoidant style and be aware of it as you have interactions with your partner(s).

Try to work towards a place of mutual support and giving/taking. Try to lessen your need for complete self-reliance. Allow your partner to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable that you would normally do yourself.

Don’t always focus on the imperfections of your partner. We all have them, remind yourself of that.

Make yourself a list of the qualities that your partner has that you are thankful for.

Look for a secure style partner if at all possible, they would be good for you to be with.

If you have a tendency to end relationships before they go too far, be aware of that and let it develop further.

Get into the habit of accepting and even instigating physical touch. Tell yourself that it’s good for you to have some intimacy. Intimacy can help you feel safe and secure.

And over time you can realize that it’s okay to rely on other people.

For the Anxious Style

For the anxious style, the #1 thing to work on is learning to communicate needs better. This is a huge issue for the anxious style.

Advertising

First and foremost if you communicate your needs more clearly, you will have less anxiety, that’s already a big win. This will also allow you to better assess if a potential partner is good for you.

Try to bring your feelings more to the surface and most importantly, share them with your partner. Remember that secure attachments typically communicate pretty well, this is what you are working towards.

For the Anxious-Avoidant Style

The anxious-avoidant is a very small percentage of the attachment styles. Since this type tends to be anxious in the relationship AND more or less a loner, the key here is working hard to be very self-aware of your actions.

Use the parts of striving towards secure attachment from the anxious tips and the avoidant restructuring of your thoughts to consciously work towards being more secure.

When you find yourself pushing someone away, ask why. If you feel worried that your partner is going to leave you, again, ask yourself where this is coming from. Have they shown you any reason to believe this? Many times there is no real evidence. In that case, allow yourself to calm down and try not to obsess over it.

For the Secure Style

Since the goal is to move towards a more secure attachment style, there isn’t much needed here as you might imagine.

Something to be aware of is being in a relationship just because it’s “okay”. Don’t stay if it’s not a good place for you and your partner. If your partner is of an anxious or avoidant attachment style, stay mindful to not start developing characteristics of those styles.

Strive towards Secure Attachment

As we wrap things up, you’ve probably developed a good idea of the benefits of secure attachment. If you don’t currently have a secure attachment style, here are some benefits of restructuring your thoughts more towards this style:

  • Positive self esteem and self image
  • Close and well adjusted relationships
  • Sense of security in self and the world
  • Ability to be independent as well as in relationships
  • Optimistic outlook on life and yourself
  • Strong coping skills and strategies for relationships and life
  • Trust in self and others
  • Close, intimate relationships
  • Strong determination and problem solving skills

If you are an anxious or avoidant style or the combination of anxious-avoidant, it is possible to move towards a secure attachment style.

It takes self-awareness, patience and a strong desire to get close to being secure but it can be done. You will find that putting the effort into it will provide you with more open, honest and satisfying relationships.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Read Next