The Secret to Successful Long-Term Relationships

The Secret to Successful Long-Term Relationships

It’s no secret, according to a recent post in the New York Times.

“The passion ignited by a new love inevitably cools and must mature into the caring, compassion and companionship that can sustain a long-lasting relationship.”

As a dating coach for smart, strong, successful women, I spend an inordinate amount of time explaining this very simple concept. Over time, invariably, the dizzy sensation starts to fade. The obsession with being together wanes. The mask slips off, the imperfections show and become magnified. Stability and domesticity takes over. Suddenly, you’re not the couple making love five times a week and jetting off to Istanbul. You’re the couple with two crying kids that is so exhausted at the end of the day that sex is about the furthest thing from your mind.

If you aren’t content with a revolving door of partners, and like the idea of partnership and growing old with someone, what are you to do?

This should not be surprising or even disappointing. If anything, it should be predictable. The problem is that people don’t want to accept this new reality, and become disproportionately disappointed when it happens. So they break up, searching for the next high, only to find that the NEXT relationship has a completely different set of issues. The only way around this, I’d suppose, would be a George Clooney lifestyle. A series of passionate affairs, all of which are doomed to end after six months to two years. But if you aren’t content with a revolving door of partners, and like the idea of partnership and growing old with someone, what are you to do?

Sonja Lyobomirsky, a scientist I’ve cited here before, describes a slew of research-tested actions and words that can do wonders to keep love alive.

“Dr. Lyubomirsky emphasizes “the importance of appreciation”: count your blessings and resist taking a spouse for granted. Routinely remind yourself and your partner of what you appreciate about the person and the marriage.

Also important is variety, which is innately stimulating and rewarding and “critical if we want to stave off adaptation,” the psychologist writes. Mix things up, be spontaneous, change how you do things with your partner to keep your relationship “fresh, meaningful and positive.”

Novelty is a powerful aphrodisiac that can also enhance the pleasures of marital sex. But Dr. Lyubomirsky admits that “science has uncovered precious little about how to sustain passionate love.” She likens its decline to growing up or growing old, “simply part of being human.”

As for me? After six years with my wife, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I don’t miss the heady rush of blind passion, because I acutely remember the other emotions that so often surrounded it: fear, anger, and insecurity. So let me know: do you want to keep that feeling alive forever? Or are you content with the depth, comfort, and safety that comes with long-term commitment?

Read the New York Times article here and share your thoughts below.

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Comments:

  1. 91
    Jason P

    As long as the sex keeps coming 4-5 times a week, then I’m good! Now, in order for this to happen, I must be behaving in a way that my woman finds attractive. If not, I am to blame for the lack of sex. If I am and she’s not responding, then it’s time to move on.

  2. 92
    Scott

    It is perfectly OK for women to expect men to pay for the first few dates.  Shows he is interested.  Shows he has some alpha.  Shows he has some resources to share.  Fine.
    But ladies, if those are the ground rules, don’t get all bent out of shape when studies show that men continue to earn more than women.  Of course they do.  They have to.  They have to pay for dates.  You don’t.  You may not think that affects your drive and determination and willingness to work just as hard as he does.  And you’re right, it doesn’t affect YOUR drive.  But it darn sure affects HIS drive.  Which is why you can’t really have it both ways.  You can’t desire and expect him to pay, and then resent that he has figured out a way to squeeze a few more bucks out of the system.  Of course he has.  He has to do so to compete in the dating world.
    And FWIW I agree with Karl.  You can’t know in advance whether offering to pay will offend the guy or not.  But you can know which kind of guy it will turn off.  So choose what to do by what kind of guy you want to keep.  And remember, if you prefer the kind of guy who favors traditional gender roles, pretty decent chance he will expect you to follow traditional gender roles as well.  Nothing wrong with that.  If that is who you want to be. 

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