One of the most common complaints in a relationship that has gone the distance is the lack of excitement. Of passion.
The spark fades and is replaced by a sense of comfort.
It’s natural to look for stability in our relationships. We want to feel safe. We want to limit that oh-so-scary feeling of vulnerability. We may be willing to trade some of that early excitement for the comfort of knowing that our partner will be there and that we will be safe. We exchange passion for security.
The problem with this transaction is that security is merely an illusion. There is no such thing as a relationship that is divorce-proof. There are no guarantees. We are trading real goods for the promise of a return that may never come.
It makes sense to take certain precautions. Much like most pay their rent on time so they don’t have to live with the daily fear of being evicted, it makes sense to be cautious in love. But not so cautious that you trade all excitement for the false promise of invulnerability. Even perfect rent payments do not protect your home from burning down around you.
There are problems inherent with assuming too much security. You become complacent. Bored, even. You may begin to seek excitement and novelty outside of the the relationship. Eventually, your internal narrative regarding your spouse changes to match your perceptions, reinforcing the idea that the lack of passion is par for the course with him or her. The very assumption of stability can erode away the foundations of a relationship.
You can maintain passion. You can draw out excitement. But it does mean letting go of the illusion of security. It means protecting your passion even when it can be scary.
Try listening to your partner with an open mind rather than leading with assumptions. He or she will surprise you if you allow it. When you believe you know all there is to know about someone, you begin to fill in the gaps automatically. But if you listen, really listen, you may discover something you didn’t know. Of course, that something may also be against your preferences. There’s the trade-off.
Look at your partner as an individual. Watch them in their element. See the best side of them come alive. It may or may not be a characteristic that you normally witness in them. See it. Appreciate it. Recognize that you are a team but not a single entity. Your partner is his or her own person. As you are yours. Maintain some separation, some mystery. In that way, you always leave room for discovery.
Be proactive about maintaining experiences as a couple outside of routine. Routines allow us to function but they also become suffocating if you never deviate. Try new things. The excitement will transfer to the relationship. Embrace a certain amount of unpredictability. Don’t restrain laughter. Be willing to try and look foolish.
Don’t depend upon your partner to create passion. Find it yourself. Explore the things that bring you joy, that give you purpose and allow you to create. Your partner may not share your interest in gardening or ju-jitsu, but you can share the energy that it brings you. Take responsibility for your joy. Passion has a way of being contagious. Pass it on.
Amusement parks have created an entire industry around the balance of security and excitement. They know how to give you the feeling of vulnerability, with its associated joy when you emerge unscathed, without too much of the risk. You can find that balance in a relationship as well. Let go of the illusion of security. Actively seek excitement and novelty within the relationship. Protect your passion as diligently as you protect your heart.
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