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.

Reminiscing Can Renew Your Relationship

Senior Couple Lounging on a Wood Deck

Reminiscing Can Renew Your Relationship

Of course we have to discuss the day-to-day upkeep of the household and so on with our partner, but this can get dull fast. However, sometimes when you’re sitting around, talking about the old days you can get to laughing and really get the old engines purring. Reminiscing can renew your relationship, so says a study out of the University of Queensland.

Just last year psychologists Kim Halford and Susan Osgarby sought out to test positive reminisce as a tool to boost relationships. Participants were all married for at least one year and ranged in age from 21 to 65. They all had varying degrees of marital satisfaction. None were in couple’s therapy. Two groups were created from this one pool. There were 27 put in one group and 25 in the other. Each person was asked to describe a “really positive relationship memory.” Then each partner proceeded to spend five minutes explaining one. Important events in their life together such as the birth of a child, their wedding, holidays, and shared successes such as buying their home.

Happy couples were more intimate than distressed ones as shown by this study. Happy couples became even happier sharing their reminiscences together, while distressed couples became sad. Researchers believe this is because they realize how much happier they had once been.  Happy couples seemed to be telling the stories jointly, joining in and adding facts or color as the other went on.  They elaborated on one another’s comments and this seemed to make them happier too. For happy couples even negative things that happened in their life were recalled positively. Happy couples even hugged and shared close behavior, which was absent in the distressed couples.

A lesson to learn from this study is not taking part in negativity in your relationship. Distressed couples criticize, invalidate and take part in negative behaviors towards one another. This reminiscing can make you sad if you are in a distressed relationship. If so, realize when negative behaviors pop up. Agree to take a time out at these times, and come back later with clearer thoughts and discuss calmly the issues at hand. Reminisce often. Get those old feelings flowing again. If reminiscing makes you happy let it renew your relationship. If not find out why and fix it. For more advice read, Renewing Your Wows!- Seven Powerful Tools to Ignite the Spark and Transform Your Relationship by Jeffrey H. Sumber.

The Happiest Couple’s Secrets According to Science

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The Happiest Couple’s Secrets According to Science

Is your relationship as happy as it could be? Thanks to some recent breakthroughs in research we have some indicators of what the most sublime duos do to perpetuate their love locked bliss. So if you want to know how to bump up the contentment quotient in your relationship, read on to see what the happiest couple’s secrets are according to science.

First, research has shown that celebrating one person’s good news fortifies the relationship considerably. In one particular experiment couples who celebrated small benchmarks three times a day for a week increased their bliss and decreased depression in their relationships. According to another study a happy marriage or long term relationship is worth $105,000 per year in terms of satisfaction. Who knew? Joyful couples have been found to have five positive interactions per day to one negative one. This is being called the “happy couple ratio.” Those who divorced however had eight tenths of a happy interaction to one negative one. It seems that if you increase the positivity, your marriage or long term relationship gets happier. This may sound simple to some. But look at your own relationship. How often do you interact positively versus neutrally or negatively? Observe your own relationship for a few days and see what conclusions you have.

Some of the ways to increase positive interactions within your relationship could be paying your sweetie a compliment. Just a simple text saying “Hi handsome” or “How’s it going gorgeous” would suffice, though doing a little more when something noteworthy comes along would be even better. A small gesture or gift from time to time is a great way to show your appreciation and love. Another positive move, reminisce together, bring up great memories you both share. Lastly, do something nice for your partner like cooking them dinner, giving them a massage, doing a chore for them, or watching the kids to give them a break. The biggest influence that determined the quality of a relationship was found by a whopping 70% to be the quality of the friendship between partners. Part of that close friendship includes talking more and spending more time together, five hours per week more actually.

Couples who spent more time in the bedroom were happier too. Those who had sex two to three times per week were the happiest. In fact, 55% reported being happier when they had intercourse every few days. When congratulating your significant other for accomplishments large or small, research suggests asking questions, saying congrats, showing enthusiasm and reliving the experience along with them. For more advice read, The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What They Reveal about Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship by Chrisanna Northrup, Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., and James Witte, Ph.D.

Falling Back in Love

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Falling Back in Love

In a marriage or a long term relationship that has been going on for a while, way past the normal comfortable phase, sometimes things become far too common and routine. You’ve lost that spark. You start to feel numb about this person. You get confused. You still love them but you wonder if you are in love with them. One or both of you feel taken for granted. And at this juncture it is crucial to turn things around, and reinvest in one another. You can fall back in love, reignite that spark and show each other how much you care. There are ways to shake the cobwebs out of your relationship and get your hearts racing again. It doesn’t take more than some creativity, consideration, caring, time and enthusiasm. And you’ll be racing back toward one another in no time.

The first step is to find what attracted you to this person to begin with. Was it their laugh, their smile, the way they tilt their head, a great sense of humor or just the way they looked at you? Talk about these times. Be sentimental. If you used to play guitar and serenade your lover do it again. Go through old photos and recall old times. If you used to write love notes, love letters or the like do so again. Spend some time together. Go away, or just go on a date. Spice things up in the bedroom. Bring home a little gift for him or her, something romantic. Surprise them with a candle lit dinner, a secret trip or a body massage.

Next, come to terms with your partner’s shortcomings, even come to love them for it. And expect them to do the same. Tell them about it, that you love them no matter that they leave their underwear in the wrong place, or whatever the issue is. And have them accept whatever your faults are. Recognize what problems you bring to the relationship. No one is innocent completely. See if there are things you can do to mitigate these problems. Brainstorm with your partner. They will be so delighted that they will be willing to think about ways to lessen the impact their shortcomings have. Instead of focusing on the negative, make a list of things you like, love and appreciate about your partner. Are they kind and considerate? Do they cook or clean? Do they make you laugh when you’re down, listen to you and help you with your problems? Share this list with them.

Recognize that if you are stuck on some fairytale version of love, that your expectations are way too high. Realize that a relationship is going to take some work, caring and commitment. Instead of creating a vicious cycle where you criticize him or her and get negativity back, invest in a virtuous circle, where you say positive things to them, encourage them, cheer them on and do things to make their life easier. They’ll return the favor. For more advice read, I Love You, but… I’m Not IN LOVE With You: 7 Steps to Saving Your Relationship by Andrew G. Marshall.

Why Dating at Summer Camp was the Best

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Why Dating at Summer Camp was the Best

Remember those great summers at camp with swimming, horseback riding, canoeing, sports and arts and crafts and singing around a campfire at night? Camp was also a place a lot of people experience their first summer romance. Here are some reasons why dating at summer camp was the best. First, you never had to get dressed up, especially for a date. No cologne, perfume, makeup or serious clothing. It was come as you are and everybody was cool with that. You didn’t have to coordinate dates as to where you’ll meet, who is driving where and so on. You were right where you needed to be.

You could be seen at your worst physically, sweating and beaten, and they’d still love you. You could totally lose it emotionally being homesick, angry at your friend or just from being tired, and they still wanted to be with you. You didn’t have to worry about who pays or what it meant. Everything at camp was free. You both had the exact same schedule so no trying to awkwardly coordinate dates. That first crush at camp was always so real. Some people only dated over the summer. Others dates back at school or saw each other every summer until summer camp faded away. Some became counselors and some moved away. Some are probably even married today.

Whatever was going on at summer camp, your relationship was free. There was no pressure from inside or from without to make it become something or see it go somewhere. But that summer camp crush, just when you first saw them, or got up that morning and thought about seeing them that very day, made you all soft and gooey inside. You all hung out together. You all had the same friends and you never had to coordinate around people who didn’t like each other or had dated and broken up. You had to hang out together so everyone got together and made the best out of everything.

You already knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses by seeing one another operate around the different activities through the course of the day. There wasn’t really any privacy so you were forced to take things slow. But in that there was a kind of magic every time you got together, every time you kissed and each time you went a little bit further. There was lots of cuddling. Also, if you got stuck on any point you had camp counselors to guide you when you had problems in love. There was closure at the end of a camp romance, and great memories would inhabit your mind and theirs for all the days and years to come. To learn more about young love and the various experiences we go through in relationships, read Lena Dunham’s book, Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned.”