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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Anna Chui

Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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