“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.