Drifting Apart

drifting

Drifting Apart

It stuns you when you first realize that you and your sweetie, you seemed like the perfect couple, are drifting apart. Sometimes just as perfectly as you fell for each other, as if it were only natural an event like a natural disaster, an earth shattering union over which the two of you had no control. But just as powerfully so too can each party find forces pushing them apart, and these can occur just as naturally and as inexplicably.

Sometimes we end up in a comfortable relationship that has no future. This kind of relationship has dueling emotions inside you. On the one hand you have your life goals. On the other you love this person and perhaps fear being single again and facing a big, black who-knows-what. Sometimes the fear of the unknown makes us stay in an uncomfortable situation. But the problem with that is we die a little inside for we are born to seek out our dreams. Scientists have proven that parts of the brain showing good, sound judgment shutdown when we fall in love. As the relationship progresses more and more we get to learn about our partner and deal with their shortcomings, and our own.

Once you have that down, you think you’ve got it all figured out. And you’ll live happily ever after. Or not. More likely it will be like a series of hurtles you’ll have to jump over. You’ll dodge them and do okay. Once in a while you’ll have a victory to celebrate. At other times a defeat to mourn. But when people have different priorities or if their values change, as are natural to do over time you can find the couple naturally drifting apart. The question is how far is this drift going to go? Can you relate to one another anymore? Is there trust and respect? Can you build a deep bond of connection and intimacy despite these differences? Each couple has to decide for themselves. It takes a big conversation.

Some long term couples and married couples decide to live together despite their differences. They share what they can but each also enjoy their separate lives. Others seek out a partner who fulfills all of their needs. Then there are those who try to change their lover, or spurn them for not being the person they fell in love with to begin with. Instead, talk about it. Discuss the drift. See when it occurred and why it occurred. Figure out if it makes sense to stay together and share your life together or perhaps you’ve grown too different after all. For more advice read, Help! My Spouse and I Are Drifting Apart by Dr. Bill Maier and Mitch Temple.

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.

Marital Happiness Determined by Gut Feelings

gut feelings

Marital Happiness Determined by Gut Feelings

Before getting married, listen to what your gut is telling you. According to a new study, it knows better than one might think. The journal Science recently published research which concluded that your gut feelings about a relationship can predict how blissful the marriage will be long term. Associate professor James K. McNulty, the studies’ lead author, took 135 newlywed participants and using advanced computer software asked them questions about their partners. The study found that what participants said had no actual bearing on marital satisfaction. But their subconscious or gut feelings were the ultimate predictors. Generally people’s natural reaction to their partners predicted the relationship’s course, but those people either wouldn’t or couldn’t verbalize those thoughts or feelings.

Lots of people have bad feelings about relationships that they stay in. Why is that? For a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s for childish ones. Others told them this relationship wouldn’t work out and they want to show them. There are those who are in denial about their marriages. They so want to be loved, and don’t think anyone else will love them. Or they feel as though they’ve invested so much time already, and don’t want to see that time wasted. There are those who believe that they can change a person, or that the person will change and grow more to what they want over time. But all of these are plans for failure. Relationships based on denial or settling will never be fulfilling. In fact, those who get out of these relationships and find someone who really loves, cares for, respects and takes care of them wonder what they were ever doing in that other relationship to begin with. When you get a negative gut feeling about a relationship, don’t ignore it. And don’t walk down the aisle pretending it isn’t there. That dissatisfaction won’t go away. It will follow you until you deal with it. For more advice read, Before You Plan Your Wedding… Plan Your Marriage by Dr. Greg Smalley & Erin Smalley.

Overcoming Choice Overload in Online Dating

choice overload

Overcoming Choice Overload in Online Dating

Today with so many dating websites and apps, we can very quickly become overwhelmed with choices. With Tinder we can swipe so many faces and weigh decisions on people who hardly say anything about themselves, whom we have little but a couple of pictures worth of evidence to go on. Other choices are monstrous. You can spend over two hours answering OKCupid questions for comparability. eHarmony is similar in this vein. Yet, if you talk to couples you don’t see an overwhelming amount coming from these sites. So what’s the deal, are all these choices really making us happier and better able to focus in on the right person or is it just a menial, anxiety ridden drag? Over ten years ago a book mirroring this very phenomenon, The Choice Paradox: Why More is Less by psychologist Barry Schwartz made its way to the fore. In it, Schwartz argues that we are bombarded in the modern world by a barrage of meaningless choices. A look at the wall of drinks available at the local convenience store is just one example. Schwartz argues that this “Choice overload” causes us to make our standards too high, fail to meet them and feel guilty in the aftermath. If there is any explanation about how some of us date online, this is it.

Schwartz has resurfaced as of late being interviewed by a variety of media sources about his opinion on the rise of social media. The phenomenon he said has only increased anxiety, now in the form of things like FOMO (fear of missing out). Internet daters today are fraught with this very thing, going through profile after profile, on date after meaningless date and never looking past the surface, never giving a relationship a chance to take root. On Tinder for instance, it’s so easy to swipe right and overlook someone that could be perfect for you. But how would you know? Online dating has many pitfalls. Sometimes we spread ourselves too thin and chat with too many people at once. It’s hard to keep each person straight. At other times we are in complete limbo, emailing back and forth with someone we never know if we’ll see in person. People come in and drop off all the time with no reason or explanation. Sure it’s brought on more choices, but there’s also more confusion to go with it, as to how best to proceed. It’s almost always helplessly hoping that something works out and being disappointed. So should you find someone that’s good enough and stick with them, even if Mr. or Ms. Perfect could still be out there, somewhere in the farthest reaches of the internet?

In Schwartz’s experiments with choices in consumer products, “satisficers,” or those who don’t need the very best smart phone, latest TV or sharpest car were consistently the happiest, whereas “maximizers” or those who needed to have the very best at all times, were constantly let down. “Maximizers” were also less satisfied in their career and more likely to be diagnosed with depression. According to Schwartz’s view you should settle for something that is acceptable. Schwartz said in a Reddit chat last year that for a selection process, say for example high school juniors should pick five colleges, not five times that much. Why not do the same for dating? Use a site where you can view profiles, pick your top five, the ones you have the most in common with and have the best feeling about, and invest in them, instead of 25? When having a list of traits you want in a partner why not have a shorter, more manageable and practical list? Be flexible. See past little things. Instead of having to have a certain net worth as a requirement, consider someone who pays all their bills on time. The person you went out with may not have been the best kisser, but they can learn. You can teach them. Consider what is good enough for you and stick to it. “‘Good enough’ is almost always good enough,” Schwartz said. It doesn’t mean giving up on your dream of finding the perfect person. It means understanding that there is no such thing, being practical and finding your happiness here in this world. Usually, something clicks into place with someone and things just feel right. But that will never happen if like a Tinder jaunt you just keep on swiping right. For more useful advice read, Cupid’s Guide to Online Dating – A Practical Guide to Finding Love by R.C. Lane.

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.