We all start our relationships in the throes of passion. Everything is new. So many experiences are fresh. You discover you have things in common, you learn they may have done things or traveled to places you’ve always wanted to go. There’s a thrill of discovery- it’s like a beautiful book opening up, and each page is more fascinating than the last. But what happens when that fades?
In my book Emotional Advantage, I talk about the 5 types of love, and new love, even erotic love can feel addictive. Why? Biological Anthropologist Helen Fisher explains “We know that the brain circuitry for romantic love follows the same pathway as all the other addictions do.” Because it’s linked with the dopamine-fueled reward system, you literally crave this person. This is a natural addiction geared toward the survival of the species, and it's there for a reason. Later on, though, you settle into a routine, that can feel safe and cozy, which is wonderful, but too much of that for too long can sometimes lead to apathy creep and even boredom. Here are 5 things you can do:
1.Cultivate curiosity: To keep things growing, a sense of curiosity is your best friend and can certainly break you out of the box. Try some new foods, explore a new part of town, listen to a concert with new music, take dance lessons, try a new sport that you can do together. My husband and I took up yoga, (actually, I had been practicing before him) and then he took it up and LOVED it – so now we have something we do together that is not only fun, and energizing – we’ve gone to yoga retreats together, and it has brought us closer. The truth is at first he didn’t want anything to do with it, so you never know when curiosity can open new doors. BTW - curiosity is a key to staying vibrant at any stage of life.
2. Understand yourself, so you know what you need. Two people will see the same situation in two very different ways, depending on how they were brought up, what associations, triggers, and influences they have. Spend some time, trying to understand yourself. Then as you rediscover your needs, communicate them in a way that invites participation, rather than shutting someone else right down. Your intention, tone of voice, and your body language are just as important as what you say. Remember, amidst all of this - your needs are important too - you matter, you are the prize. It's important to honor yourself first, and also be honored in the relationship.
3. Tune into them: ask about their day. Do something thoughtful, express appreciation when they try to help, even if it isn’t perfect. Chances are they will pick up on it and do the same. Connect with a hug, kiss a little longer, be playful…
4. Be real, not perfect. Were all works in progress - we are dynamic, we change, life changes too. Have you noticed that when people get bogged down in routines, they often stop talking about their dreams? They can even stop communicating period, because things are “fine.” Maybe it doesn’t feel as safe to share, because of the fear that what they are building could all come tumbling down. That can be lonely. But the truth is, life is messy as it should be. Even when we don’t talk about the challenging stuff, the tension is still there – which is why people distract into Netflix, shopping, substances, overeating, over-exercising, overworking….
Spend some time, put down the devices, . When we set up walls, not only do we keep out the bad, we also cannot take in the good. Be brave enough to be real, and vulnerable not vindictive. Come from a place of trying to truly listen and to be understood. Sometimes, that’s the very best expression of love.
5. What if it were the last? The next time you make love, imagine that for some reason, it was the last time. Dr. Gary Brown, suggests: Ask yourself what you would do differently and what would you do the same? In this situation, passion and compassion can merge. This little shift can open your heart, elicit a tenderness and make you feel closer.
Q: What do you do to rekindle connection? (Share your comments below )
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