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.

First Date Questions to Be Prepared for

FIRST-DATE

First Date Questions to Be Prepared for

Are you going on a first date soon? The first date, as with a first impression, sets the tone for how you two will interact with each other. And this is the first crucial step to see if there is a mutual interest. They can be so scary and exciting, the butterflies, not knowing what to wear, how you should act and if you will feel the magic are all questions on your mind. Speaking of questions, it’s important to be prepared for what your date is most likely to ask you and how to respond. A first date is kind of like a job interview for love. You are seeing if they are the right fit for you and visa-versa. Of course you should be truthful in all of your answers. But you should be prepared for what they might ask you. You don’t want to be dumbfounded, fumble or be taken aback. Here are a few first date questions to be prepared for.

First, be prepared to talk about your career. If you aren’t working or you are in college, talk about what you’re passionate about. And let your interest shine through. People are attracted to others who share similar goals, passions and interests in life. And if you can let them see you radiate with what your passionate about it may deepen their interest in you, and spark a return of that same energy when they talk about what they’re interested in.

Whatever is asked, don’t take yourself too seriously. Keep everything light and positive. No one wants to hear a lot of complaining on a first date. Not that you have to steer clear of all negative subjects. But don’t dwell on them, and put a positive spin on it at the end. Be ready to talk about your achievement s, background and goals in life. Ask your date about theirs as well. People who are deeply spiritual or religious will ask about your own beliefs or faith. Try to find out as much as you can about their beliefs and faith beforehand and prepare your answers to be truthful. But make sure you are always respectful and interested in what someone else believes. That doesn’t mean you have to believe what they do. A good sign of a relationship’s ability to take root is the ability for a couple to agree to disagree on such matters as politics and religion, if you plan to stray past your own group or groups.

Be prepared to talk about any hobbies you may have. The person is looking for compatibility. These are great for conversations. See what’s in common. Can you see yourself watching movies on the couch with this person? Taking salsa dancing classes or going sky diving together? Prepare yourself for questions about kids, or wanting them. Some people will ask about past relationships. This is usually held to a subsequent date. However, if they feel comfortable or it comes up they may ask. If you or they are divorced it could be more likely to come up. Make sure to put a positive spin on it and don’t bad mouth your ex. Remember to relax and be yourself. Have fun on your first date. For more advice read, The First Date Survival Guide: What to Wear, Where to Go, How to Act by Ryan Magin.

Can a Set of Questions Make you Fall in Love?

Ilustracion con una pareja de jovenes

Can a Set of Questions Make you Fall in Love?

In a recent piece in the New York Times Style section, professor Mandy Len Catron talked about how she used a set of questions from a lab experiment to see if it could make two people, namely her and a male acquaintance fall in love. This social experiment was based off the work of psychologist Dr. Arthur Aaron. He had two strangers ask each other these questions. Afterward, the participants were to gaze into each other’s eyes for four long minutes. There is a set of 36 questions. It takes about 45 minutes to complete the entire set. At the end of the now famous 1997 experiment, the couple threw a wedding six months later and everyone at the lab was invited. You can find the questions here: nytimes.com. They are separated into three sections. The first section includes questions like “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” Some others, “Would you like to be famous? In what way?”, “When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?”, and “Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.”

But they begin slowly probing after that, uncovering deep inner desires, parental relationships and even how affectionate and loving a person is, as well as the role love plays in their life.  Aaron was a professor at Stony Brook University. Catron is a British Columbia writing professor. You can tell this was someone she had an interest in. After going to a bar together her male companion posited this question, “I suspect, given a few commonalities, you could fall in love with anyone. If so, how do you choose someone?” She explained Aaron’s experiment and that psychologists have been trying to get two people to fall in love for some time. He prodded and they decided to try. Of course, Catron’s experiment took place in a tavern, not a lab. She and her acquaintance spent two hours answering the questions on her iPhone together. Then they stared into one another’s eyes for four minutes over a bridge in a romantic setting and presto, they were in love. Of course, it does sound like this couple was interested in one another from the beginning. Catron calls what she experienced “accelerated intimacy.” She explains how when we are young over summer camp, we get used to talking all night and becoming close to someone quickly. But as we grow older, we are more wary and perhaps take longer to get to know someone.

Catron says the most uncomfortable parts were the questions that made her reveal more about herself. But to create interpersonal closeness the barriers have to be broken down, though the questions do this in a slow, subtle kind of way. In a sense, these interrogatives are designed to include another person in our sense of self, and vice-versa. When we ask what the person likes about us, or we tell what we like about them, what is said establishes a link, an air of mutual appreciation and understanding. Catron says staring into each other’s eyes silently for four minutes was both exhilarating and terrifying. It wasn’t just seeing another, but having another see the real you that made such an impact, she says. One of the problems with love that she points out is that we start to look at it as a given. But really it’s an action. The study brings that part of it to the forefront. You can find Aaron’s study here: psp.sagepub.com. For more on the scientific aspect of love read, Decoding Love: Why It Takes Twelve Frogs to Find a Prince, and Other Revelations from the Science of Attraction by Andrew Trees.

Alleviating Marriage Boredom

relationship-difficulties

Alleviating Marriage Boredom

Lots of couples go through rough patches, ruts and what-have-you. Everyone is so busy nowadays, who has time to invest in a relationship? Most of the time we come home and all we want to do is eat, veg out on the couch for a little while and go to bed. But a marriage needs to be renewed with energy, vitality, interest, sexuality, amazing conversation, and even the sharing of food and ideas. Without these things a marriage is just flat. Alleviate marriage boredom by following these easy steps to reinvest in yourselves and make your marriage worthwhile.

First, work on yourself. Most people point the finger at their partner without realizing what issues they themselves bring to the table. Have a little time to reflect on what happens when you have arguments, what negative patterns there are, and how to counteract them. Then talk to your partner about it. Discuss the dynamics you’ve discovered and how you will neutralize them. You’ll be surprised but this very act may have them thinking about what they can do to improve themselves.

While you are getting in touch with yourself, get in touch with a sexual fantasy you want to try with your partner. And get in touch with your hopes, dreams and passions. If all you have or they have is the relationship that gets rather dull after a while. For heaven’s sake, what do you talk about over the breakfast table? But if you have a hobby or a dream to be fulfilled, invite your lover in and share that with them. Have one night a week where you invest in just the two of you. Turn off the TV that day and talk, have dessert, open a bottle of wine, look through old photo albums, act silly and have fun together. If you have the means go out. If not, find other ways to enjoy each other’s company.

Realize that relationships change and go through many phases. People’s wants and needs change over time. It’s important to stay in touch with your partner, who they are and how they are changing, and be okay with it, as they must come to accept who you are. If things aren’t the same, talk about it. Find ways to improve your life together. Encourage your significant other to chase their dreams and help them run after them. Expect them to do the same for you. Find something they’ve always wanted to try and do it with them. If absolutely none of these work for you, be sure to see a marriage counselor. But consider divorce the very last option. If you can reinvest in your marriage most times an awful lot will come back toward you. For advice on spicing things up in the bedroom read, Passionate Marriage: Sex, Love, and Intimacy in Emotionally Committed Relationships by David Schnarch, Ph.D.

Date Night Conversation Starters

best-date-night

Date Night Conversation Starters

Are you a couple who has a date night but instead of adding spark its fallen flat? If you find that you have nothing to talk about, don’t worry. You’re just a bit rusty. Here are some date night conversation starters to get you two to start reconnecting. And once the conversation starts rolling forward effortlessly bright white flashes of electricity will be humming between you two before you know it. Talk about problems that are happening other than at home. Work related trouble, an office faux paus you forgot to mention, a funny thing that happened in the elevator, even a project you don’t know how to move forward on. It’s a good idea to hold back one or two juicy items during your week to save for date night. You can even give your sweetie a little teaser earlier in the week. Say your date night is on Friday, tell them you have a juicy tidbit to share with them on Wednesday and hype it up. They won’t be able to wait until date night to hear about it. Think about the things you’ve talked to your partner about. Do you have any unfulfilled dreams from when you were younger? Have you recently uncovered a funny story or a memory from when you were ten? Our past is long and sometimes memories bubble up. Why not share something from your past you haven’t shared with them yet? Nothing makes for better lover’s talk than confessions and secrets. It may make you closer, too.

Why not have a debate? If you are on different sides of the political spectrum, have different religious or philosophical beliefs and put a lid on it all week, let loose on date night. Debate fairly. But inquire. What is the real reason for their opinion? How did they come upon it? Now is the time to really get to know them in a new context. Besides politics, religion and current events, what about sharing a hobby together on date night? You can talk about your passion at that time. Take up photography together. There’s drawing, martial arts, a bowling team, going to an art appreciation, music or a cooking class. Perhaps take up an instrument you are both interested in. Or put together a two piece band and jam together. Common interests can give you something to talk about and reignite the spark all at once. What about family secrets or issues that upset you, things you haven’t shared with anyone? If you two like to take things to a deeper level, this sort of sharing may scale up your bond. But make sure date night is fun and not a therapy session, unless that’s what you both enjoy. Finally, tell them what you admire about them. Talk about the things that they’ve done that you appreciate or are overwhelmed by. They may even return the favor. Even if you’ve been married for years there is still something you don’t know about them. Keep talking. Keep trying. Show how much you appreciate your partner. You may even come to see them in a new light. For more date night advice, read The Date Deck… ‘Cause Every Couple Needs a Date Night by Esther Boykin, LMFT.