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.

Normal Couple Changes that Initially Cause Anxiety

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Normal Couple Changes that Initially Cause Anxiety

Have you been in a relationship for a while and you’re worried that you are growing apart? Normal couples go through changes that can initially cause anxiety but are in fact common and are of no actual cause for concern. So if you are afraid that your love is fading or that he or she just isn’t as attracted to you as they once were, read on to see if there is any real trouble brewing or if you are merely going through one of these transitions.  First, if you are physical together, the intensity and frequency of hopping into bed together may slow a bit once you reach that more comfortable stage. This is normal. But some people believe it means the attraction is dropping off. Two to three times a week is average for most couples. But find out what is normal for you two.

Have a conversation if you think there is a problem. And of course, couples who have been together a while need to spice things up sometimes. So recognize when you’ve fallen into a rut and figure out what needs changing, and what spicy and steamy things you’d like to explore together to keep the spark alive and take things to the next level. Have you noticed a drop off in cuddle time? How often do you cuddle? Sometimes we and are partners are on different schedules, are busy and tired at night and fall into bed exhausted, or just get used to climbing into bed and going to sleep. Why not initiate cuddling if you miss it? Do so when you two have a little time, like on the weekends. Or go to bed ten minutes earlier to get in some much needed snuggle time.

Has your texting frequency fallen off? If you used to text each other throughout the day little sweet nothings, steamy sexts, or just things that occurred that you want to share, but this phenomenon has dropped off, why not start it off again? Some couples save things to talk to each other about when they get home, or for dinner table conversation. Also, when you slip into a deeper, more comfortable phase, you don’t need the constant texting to reassure each other. So have a conversation if you feel that this is missing from your relationship. But don’t take it as a sign that the end is near. For in fact, it’s pretty normal for this to occur. When you are doing something fun, do you look for your partner? And do you feel their absence when they’re not around? This is normal in a new relationship. But as time wears on you won’t look for that person to be there every time something amazing happens. It’s a normal part of developing together.

Did you two used to do everything together and now even though you love your partner you want to experience certain hobbies, social events and other things on your own or with your friends? This is a perfectly normal sign your relationship has moved on to a more comfortable phase. Has your date planning dropped off?  That’s normal. Why not have a date night? If you used to brag about your significant other every chance you got, but found this dropping off, it’s okay. You are just used to the relationship. It’s good that you want to take a measure of where the relationship is every so often. That is normal and healthy and means you care about this relationship. Don’t stress. Instead, keep in touch with your partner. Understand who they are, their needs and desires and your own. They may change over time. People change and they either stay the same, grow together or apart. But if you are in love, communicate well, get along and care for each other there is no reason you shouldn’t grow together. For more advice read, Should We Stay Together? By Jeffry H. Larson, Ph.D.

How do you know if you’re Just Settling?

Angry

How do you know if you’re Just Settling?

When we first get into someone there’s that tingly, rush of excitement we get down deep in the belly. We get caught in this electric net whenever we see them, or get a call or text message. But after a while a long-term relationship gets comfortable. About four or five years out experts say is when a lot of trouble begins. We all get caught up in our routines. Sometimes a relationship gets old and needs a little spicing up. At other times we are discovering our partner more deeply and with it more incongruities arise. They need to be dealt with or new channels of modes of communication are required in order to keep things moving when we get stuck on thorny issues. This can get tiresome. But then there are times when we are with someone where things don’t really fit. We put up with it because we want to be in a relationship or appreciate the person’s finer qualities, but just can’t get past this certain thing or set of things about them. So how do you know if you’re just settling or if this is a relationship that needs a little tweaking? How do you know when things need a little more work or you’re just settling?

Sometimes it’s a good idea to get away from your significant other, even if it’s just for a short time so they are not influencing you. If you can, spend time with yourself, clear your mind and try and see the relationship from another angle. Others like to talk to close friends or a mentor and get a beat on what they think. Sometimes a little insight from someone close to your heart is all you need to refresh your outlook. Then there are those people who simply draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper and list the good qualities of the relationship on one side and the bad qualities on the other. Evaluate how you feel generally with this person. Are they difficult to be around? Does respect dwell here? Is this relationship fulfilling most of the time? Does it make you happy? Is it weighing you down or lifting you up? Do you see no way of bringing it back? A relationship should bring out our best, not force us to seek solitude in work or other pursuits. If you feel more comfortable away from this person than in their presence, this is your sign.

What about your habits of mind? Are you constantly saying to yourself that your relationship isn’t that bad, and citing worse ones? Have you tried and tried again without any impact? What about the other person. Have they been trying to change and to communicate better to help bridge the gaps between you? Do you think if you wait it out, someday your partner will have a clue? Wishful wanting without any clear indication from the other partner is one of the symptoms of settling. Do you feel sorry for your partner? Usually, the person we love is one we respect, even admire. It’s hard to love someone you feel sorry for. There are those who stay in bad relationships simply because they are afraid of being alone. But then they have their own issues to work out which are coming through into the relationship. Today, we don’t have to stay with someone we don’t love. There are so many options no matter what your age, deal or preferences. Women especially may be prone to the settling syndrome. According to evolutionary anthropologists, women in the Stone Age settled because they may not have had the chance to mate again, being hunter-gatherers wandering in small bands. But in the modern age we have eHarmony and Tinder. So evaluate carefully. But realize that the answer may come, as all important ones do, when you least expect it. If you do decide to go down that road after healing read, How To Get A Date Worth Keeping: Be Dating In Six Months Or Your Money Back by Henry Cloud.

If you get Bored of your Lover, Should you Dump Them?

UNHAPPY-COUPLE

If you get Bored of your Lover, Should you Dump Them?

Boredom in a long-term relationship comes on when novelty is over. Sometimes comfort can be well, comforting. But after a while your relationship can bore you utterly. And then what?! If you love someone and have exhausted all ways and manners of which to spice things up, if you crave novelty and they “just like the way things are” what can you do? If you get bored of your lover, should you dump them? Now it’s time to really sit down and evaluate the situation. There are really all kinds of changes that can bring about novelty. And have you truly exercised every avenue? Consider whether or not you truly love this person. Though you may need some change, making a radical move merely out of boredom might show you what you’ve lost. They say you only recognize what you’ve truly lost once it’s gone. You don’t want to be in that situation if you can help it.

Sometimes people say that they are bored with their relationship when they are really fed up. There are several unresolved conflicts brewing underneath the surface and they don’t know how to make headway on them. Their so-called boredom is frustration. The only way to deal with this situation is lock yourself and a lover in a room and don’t emerge until these problems are talked out. You don’t have to lock the door per se. If things get heated, you may need to de-escalate the situation, take a break, gather your thoughts and regroup. Still, only clear and honest communication and a plan of action can unstick this situation. In other cases, couples get stuck in a rut and they don’t know how to break out of it. Sometimes we are overwhelmed with our responsibilities. The couple may simply be stressed. A little down time, a date night, some time exploring hobbies on their own or more time with each other’s friends might be the answer. When a couple spends too much time together, they can often get bored of one another. But out of each other’s sight, and they each wonder what the other is doing, or can’t wait to share their own adventure later on with their boo.

The best way to reignite passion is to go to a place where both of you can play, use your imagination, accept one another without guilt or judgment and be free, loving and adventurous. For some that means having to get out of their comfort zone and try something new. For others, it means new antics in the bedroom. Sometimes circumstances change and we see our spouse or partner in a different way. The man she fell in love with used to be the center of attention at the office. But now he works from home, and she never sees him like that anymore. A solution may be to go out with friends, and allow him to work the room again. Really if you are both committed, you can communicate and work toward renewing your life together. Long-term relationships tend to have their ups and downs. If you run into an obstacle, how you work together to remove it says whether or not you will make it, or suffer the dust bin of history. But if your partner is in staunch refusal to change, if they won’t move one iota to please you, if they are dismissive and disrespectful, or if you have tried and tried and tried again with no result, and there’s no way you two can be happy together, don’t be afraid to sit down with them and be honest, and pursue brighter horizons. To learn more about aspects of the modern state of love and how to negotiate it read, In the Name of Love: Romantic Ideology and Its Victims by Aaron Ben-Ze’ev.

Can Marriage and Lust Coexist?

Happy couple in bed --- Image by   Darren Kemper/Corbis

Can Marriage and Lust Coexist?

It is a common misconception that people who have been together a long time inevitably see their passion fade. So can marriage and lust coexist?  In fact, research has shown that married people are having more sex than their single counterparts. For instance, a 2010 Kinsey Institute survey found that three out of five single people went without sex last year, as opposed to one out of five married people. In another study conducted by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth which studies families, married 25 to 59 year olds were more likely to have sex two to three times per week than their single counterparts. Usually couples have sex often in the early phase of the relationship but frequency slows down as time goes on. What often happens is people get caught up in the demands of a career and raising a family and so have sex less often. But studies have shown that married people enjoy it more. Laura Carpenter, a sex researcher from Vanderbilt University says, “While people get older and busier, as a relationship proceeds they also get more skillful—in and out of the bedroom.” Still, couples often blame dry spells on their marriage. It’s usually certain aspects of the marriage such as an all too familiar partner, arguing or household chores and the politics that can come with them.

Science can’t help us here. There are few studies that have looked into what a normal sex life looks like in mid-life. There is no recipe therefore on what can keep sex hot and lust going in a marriage. Still there are indicators. The eminent John Gottman, a pioneer in the field of couple’s research and head of Seattle’s Gottman Institute says that when men and women share their lives, they are more likely to engage in sex. Men who share in the household chores and childcare had sex more often than those that didn’t, Gottman’s research found. Other researchers have also found that the more a couple shared, the more sex they had. Other research has shown that it doesn’t matter who is the breadwinner. No matter the financial situation, long-term couples had the same frequency. On another front, it’s important to see a certain psychological paradigm that exists and how to overcome it, or balance it out. Our sexual feelings are filtered through our culture. Rules and norms on desire, fantasies and arousal lock us in to what researchers call “sexual scripts.” These are the roles, desires and fantasies we allow ourselves to take part in. University of Washington Sociologist Julie Brines thinks the trouble is we are still stuck in traditional sexual scripts. Even more problems occur when we are between scripts.  “I don’t think we have newer alternatives to traditional sexual scripts in marriage,” she said. Since couples relate differently in and out of the bedroom perhaps our sexual scripts should reflect this new dynamic. But one has yet to settle in.

Psychotherapist Esther Perel says the issue of losing passion in a marriage comes when we are too focused on our need for security. It comes to dominate our competing need for novelty. Perel says that, “couples who describe themselves as loving, trusting, and caring complain that their sex lives have become dull and devoid of eroticism.” What Perel does then is show couples how to, “reconcile our fundamental need for safety and security with our equally strong need for adventure and novelty.” It’s worth noting that her 2013 TED Talk has five million views on YouTube. Some suggest using one’s sexual imagination to explore what is interesting and novel to the couple themselves. Gottman found that desire was present most in couples who responded to each other’s feelings. Those that were adversarial shut down desire. These were the sexless marriages. Gottman also found that sex didn’t take a back seat to other things on the couple’s agenda.  “Couples who are going to have a lot of sex end up somehow being able to communicate to one another that it’s a priority,” the researcher said. “It is not going to be the last item on the infinite to-do list.” When one person wasn’t in the mood in these marriages Gottman said one would give the other person an alternative to intercourse. This is done so as to show love and concern for the spouse and their needs. Lastly, to keep the spark alive, Gottman said that sexual imagination needs one very important thing, a free and comfortable atmosphere conducive to play. For more on keeping the novelty in your marriage read, Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel.