Should you stay in a Relationship that is Just Comfortable?

too comfortable

Should you stay in a Relationship that is Just Comfortable?

Many of us have been there. You love someone but you aren’t in love with them. The relationship is very comfortable. There may be places where you don’t see eye-to-eye. But by and large, you have fun together, run a good household or just enjoy each other’s company. The person is perhaps a good choice for a mate. They are stable and kind. But that euphoric, weak-in-the-knees feeling has left the building. So should you stay in a relationship that is just comfortable but doesn’t give you fireworks or butterflies? There are really two schools of thought on this. The first is a very practical view. That is, stay with your partner. The reason, there are relationships and even marriages who do have that spark. Also, the candle that burns twice as bright often lasts half as long. Then a terrible breakup occurs and you are left all alone. The other scenario is one waits around forever. Instead of having the loving experiences available, one waits alone for a proposition which may never come. Why not, as the song says, love the one you’re with?

Sometimes these relationships that are comfortable used to have novelty. Kids, careers and a pileup of years have made them too comfortable. Here experts say the spark can be rekindled. One way to do so is to share novel experiences together. Travel to exotic lands, take part in exciting activities like sky diving and bungee jumping, learn a new skill together such as cooking or swing dancing or interact through a new sport such as karate or kayaking. These can reignite the spark. Another way is through reminiscing. Some relationship experts say merely having a date night can do it. This will inject some romance—you know interacting as a couple again instead of the person who takes care of a list of household duties. Then there are those who use their sexual interests to jumpstart their relationship. They may start to talk about and fulfill each person’s deep seeded fantasies, the ones they never spoke to another soul about. Some couples explore tantric sex or BDSM together to reignite that spark.

But then there is another school of thought, held by the fiercely independent who are not afraid of making it on their own. This type is perfectly happy by themselves. They won’t accept anything less than earth shattering love. If they work at it and can’t get it from their relationship then they end it, sooner or later. If the person they are dating doesn’t provide this feeling than they’d rather not be dating them. This type is generally focused on an important passion, mission, artistic pursuit, their children or career. They say if you really aren’t in love then you are just going through the motions, or else settling for a paltry mediocrity. Which interpretation is the right one? That all depends on the kind of person you are. If you are fiercely independent why not go for the love that will fill the space in your heart? See if you can reignite it with your current lover before you do something drastic. But if they cannot fulfill you why stay with them? Those who are a bit more practical and believe their relationship suits their needs should instead try and find ways to rekindle the flames. For more on this read the book, Keeping the Love You Find by Harville Hendrix.

What Science Says About Love

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What Science Says About Love

Religious leaders, philosophers, and artists, poets, musicians and writers have been illustrating phenomenon and helping to shape our ideas on love for thousands of years. Science has been studying love for only a handful in comparison. But with the miracle breakthroughs of so many technologies and with advanced techniques for studying humans, science has now taken the lead on how we view love. Here are a wide range of scientists studying the subject and what they say about love. According to Albert Einstein College of Medicine neuroscientist Lucy Brown, love is like a thirst. When in the throes of an early romance, our mind is consumed with plans and thoughts of our beloved. How we express our love by being distant, clingy, or warm and nurturing depends upon the person. But all people feel it the same. We feel a euphoria and a magnetic pull toward the person we love.

Brown says that the key things for her are “Driven toward one person” and “euphoric.” FMRI or brain scans have shown that when a person is thinking about their lover or shown a picture of their beloved, all people have ancient areas firing in their brain, the places where euphoria, drive and reward dwell. Romantic love then, thought to be the arena to itself, our highest emotion, is in fact connected to our survival mechanisms such as hunger and thirst. Love also makes people pair-bond which increased survival. As Brown puts it, “We were built to experience the magic of love and to be driven toward another.”

According to biological anthropologist at Rutgers University Helen Fisher, love isn’t one phenomenon but, “…there are three basic types of love: sex drive; romantic love; and feelings of deep attachment for a partner.” Fisher and her colleagues used an FMRI to investigate what happens when someone falls in love. 60 participants of both genders from 18 to 57 years of age took part. “Special meaning” is the first stage. This is where everything the person does is incredibly special, the music they like, the way they dress, where they live, everything. Some people get there more quickly than others.

According to research Fisher did in tandem with Match.com, 44% of women and 54% of men have experienced love at first site. People in love are elated. But they are also easily crestfallen such as when a lover doesn’t call or text. Butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms and a pounding heart are all physical symptoms. We are also sexually possessive of those we love, what is known to animal behaviorists as “mate guarding.” According to Dr. Fisher, romantic love has reproduction at its root. It helped our ancestors get together and consummate their relationships, bearing offspring. As Plato famously wrote, “The god of love lives in a state of need.” This need to be with the lover, a drive to be with one’s one and only is, in an evolutionary sense, winning a partner for mating and what psychologists call pair-bonding. To find out more about love’s scientific roots read, The Science of Love by Robin Dunbar.

Having Naughty Dreams about your Ex

dreams

Having Naughty Dreams about your Ex

Don’t feel ashamed if you are having dreams that involve sex. According to a study by the University of Montreal both men and women dream about sex 8% of the time. If you’ve been having naughty dreams about your ex however this statistic doesn’t calm you down. What will make you feel better is to realize what psychologists say about sex dreams. That is, they are rarely about sex. Sex in the mental realm is about the need for psychological closeness not physical closeness. Whether you broke up with this person recently or years ago the fact that they are appearing in your dreams shows that you have a need for intimacy that currently isn’t being fulfilled and this person symbolized intimacy in your mind, which is why they are the vehicle for this need in your dreams. You may still think about this person or even be infatuated with them, though you could be in denial regarding that infatuation. Whether it’s naughty or sweet, remember it’s symbolic not literal.

Lots of people dream about their first love or first serious crush. Sometimes in a long term relationship that is happy but perhaps a tad too comfortable, these kinds of dreams pop up not as a need for intimacy but as a need for some more excitement in your marriage. Passion, butterflies and sparks flying is what this relationship needs. Sometimes you fall into a pattern and that pattern becomes a rut. You need to mix it up inside the bedroom and outside. Go bungee jumping, scuba diving or sky diving together. Get tattoos or travel to some exotic destination. Some good deals can be found on Orbitz.com. In the bedroom try pillow talk. Do some role play. Visit a sex shop and purchase some toys one or both of you are interested in. Read the Kama sutra together. Take a class or watch some videos about tantric sex. Have long, deep conversations about your fantasies. Swap fantasies; you will perform one of theirs if they perform one of yours. Remember not to take this kind of dream at face value. Remember that dreams are our subconscious trying to talk to our conscious mind in the only language it speaks, symbols. Getting it on with an ex in a dream is just a symbol for what is missing in your life. Listen to your subconscious, learn to speak its language and it will help you in your waking life. To learn more about the messages in your dreams read, Dreams: Dreams and Visions, Dreams and Meanings, Dreams and Interpretations: Your Personal Guide to Understanding Your Dreams and the Meaning of Sex Dreams, Flying Dreams, Falling Dreams, Ghost Dreams, and More by Sam Siv.

All about Chemistry

chemistry

All about Chemistry

You know that feeling when you just click with someone? You feel that sparkle, butterflies have amassed in your stomach. It’s the feeling that rushes over you when you are attracted to someone, like your body is suddenly inhabited by a colony of fireflies.  But what is chemistry exactly? Can you create it or does it arrive only when it pleases? This is all about chemistry, debunking the mystery and helping you understand how it works and if you can make it work for you. Chemistry is basically making a connection. Certainly physical attraction is a big part of it. But for many people, an emotional or intellectual understanding is also part of chemistry. Biologically, this feeling of chemistry is the same as riding an amusement park ride, enjoying a rich, chocolaty dessert or a glass of wine. Our dopamine levels rise when we start to experience the incredible feeling we call chemistry. The feeling you get biologically is the same as that when you are scared. Shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, blood pressure slightly elevated and so on. You smile at them, smile about them, and smile dreamily for no particular reason. Oftentimes we are struck by love as if by a lightning bolt. Many people believe you can’t create chemistry. But it can develop over time with in depth conversations and a fondness. It depends where the two people are in their lives. Sometimes those who just got out of a difficult relationship guard their hearts. Other times it takes a while to break through someone’s shell and really get to know them. So when dating, take a little time to get to know the person, perhaps three dates is enough to be sure there isn’t any chemistry when the two of you are jiving on so many other levels.

Can you create chemistry on the phone or online? Chemistry is a chemical reaction in the brain. If it doesn’t involve the senses it doesn’t exist. So you can feel out the person for compatibility, though that isn’t the same thing. On the phone however, you have someone’s voice to evaluate and deal with. And many people find a voice to be sexy. Chemistry doesn’t always hit in the beginning. It can develop over time. People who have known each other for years can suddenly find themselves in each other’s arms. And as we age and develop our tastes inevitably change. So the type you were interested in in your teens isn’t what you are looking for in your 20’s, 30’s and so on. Both compatibility and chemistry have to be there for a long term relationship to work. If there is chemistry but no compatibility, this is like a love/hate relationship. Though sparks fly the differences will tear them apart. Compatibility with no chemistry is friendship. So it has to be a balancing act. Many couples wonder if the spark has to die. Technically after about two years the chemicals in our bodies die down. But you can reinvigorate it by recreating that adrenaline you two felt when you just met. Go on vacation, explore, dive into exciting hobbies, or do other things together that excite and invigorate both of you. That will keep the chemistry alive.  For more insight on this topic, read Relationship Chemistry: Understanding the Unspoken by Rochele HC Hirsch.

Things we Think Hurt Relationships that Don’t

Things we Think Hurt Relationships but Don’t

Things we Think Hurt Relationships but Don’t

Sometimes there’s a disconnect between our perception of a relationship and what’s really going on. There isn’t relationship 101 in high school or college. We mostly learn what we know about relationships from observing our parents or caregivers, what we learn from our own experiences, from reading relationship blogs and from the media which sends all kinds of simplified and even flat out wrong messages about long-term love. Sure, we can ask people in our lives for dating and relationship advice, but they may be just as misguided as we ourselves are. For instance, there are some things we ourselves think hurt relationships that actually don’t. When these things happen, sometimes we freak out and think there’s something wrong or that our relationship will be ruined as a result, but these things in themselves may not actually be problems until we define them as such.

Sometimes we let myths or false impressions lead to the wrong conclusions instead of taking a step back, asking for more information and really evaluating the situation. For example, some people think that any doubt in a relationship is a sign of something negative. This is a myth. It’s perfectly normal and natural to question the relationship at some point in time. When used in moderation, just like anything else, having your antennae up for problems is a good thing. It warns us of danger. But doubt is just an emotion. It’s whether or not the stimulus of that doubt is valid. Doubt itself does not mean anything. It simply means you are reevaluating the situation, which we do from time to time. That’s a normal, natural, healthy and appropriate thing to do.

Some people think that when the butterflies fade you should roll credits on the whole relationship. This is simply not true. Of course the initial phases of a relationship are blissful and heavenly. They are also anxiety ridden and we tend to forget this part. What’s more, a loss of the butterflies only means that you are moving into a new phase in your relationship, one where hopefully you deepen your bond by becoming more comfortable with one another, getting closer, sharing more and reveling in your relationship. Sometimes of course you’ll have to work to make those butterflies happen. But you can bring them back with a romantic setting, a novel experience or reveling in turning nostalgic together about the old times you had once time has moved along.

You don’t have to miss your partner every minute you are away from each other. In fact, if you are busy with your own life, that’s okay. According to evolutionary biologists we feel love when we are in the presence of a person, in their voice or whatever brings back those feelings of them. So when you are in their presence notice who they are and how you feel about them. Don’t worry if you will have the right feelings when they are away. It’s the time you spend together that really counts. You don’t have to feel as though you should need to spend every waking moment with your partner. In fact, having a robust life outside your relationship with your own friends, hobbies and interests is actually recommended by psychologists as a healthy move for your relationship.

Lastly, many people often mistakenly believe that the sex should be earth shattering every time and you should want the person at every moment with an intense need. This is not the case, though certain messages we are bombarded with all of our lives and every day make us feel as though it’s true. There needs to be a certain comfort level, good communication, mutual understanding of wants and needs and a desire on the part of both parties to please in order for there to be a good sex life. It takes time, patience, a growing together, a curious wanting to know about one another and please each other. A great sex life between long-term partners is cultivated, it doesn’t happen automatically overnight. And no one will know exactly what you want through telepathy. They only know by you telling them.

The trick is to have someone you can feel comfortable enough opening up to. If you fall into a rut you need to romance each other, go out or somehow make it a fancy night. Over some wine, open up and talk about one of your fantasies and have your partner talk about theirs. Don’t let relationship myths ruin your love life. Instead, take charge of it, communicate with your partner and see what it’ll take to make it work. To find out more, read How To Save Your Relationship… From Yourself: A Myth-Busting Guide To Successful Love by Melissa Smith Baker.