When we are in the heady, passion and potential-fueled early days of a relationship, contact is frequent. Almost constant. Your new partner is always on your mind, providing jolts of neurotransmitter bliss. That rush comes from the novelty of the experience; each encounter or imagined encounter is novel and exciting. That high of new passion has an expiration date; as the novelty fades and realism seeps in, the jolts are no longer as powerful or as frequent.
There’s a trade-off, of course. Lust may not be as powerful but trust is built. The excitement of the unknown is replaced with the security and comfort of connection. One of the balances acts in any long term relationship is how to maintain the passion within the context of commitment and stability.
The trick is that anything new or exciting injects the same into the relationship. Routine is critical for life yet deadly for relationships. So shake it up. Add some mystery or surprise. It doesn’t have to be grand. Or expensive. Or time consuming.
An adventure trip is awesome.
But so are love bites.
Love bites are simply little gestures that let your partner know that he or she is on your mind. It’s best if they’re random. The surprise is important. Serious is fine and silly is awesome. It can be a language understood by all or one only shared between the two of you. They can be notes, or texts or drawings.
Brock and I created a new one earlier this spring. I bought some silly gel clings for Valentine’s Day that spelled out, “I love you” and “U rock” on the fridge, along with an assortment of sticky hearts and even a gel electric guitar. That evening, Brock removed one of the hearts and hid it in my shower. I removed another and placed it on his mirror. This game has continued, with hearts appearing in strange locations around the house. I even lifted my toilet lid the other day to find one on the seat! Even though we somewhat expect them, the location and timing is always a surprise. It’s fun on both ends and a wonderful way to exchange love bites during a busy week.
For the giver, a love bite is a momentary reminder of the gratitude for the partner and the relationship. For the recipient, a love bite is a rush. A smile. A wonderful feeling of being acknowledged and loved. It’s oxytocin on one end and dopamine on the other. And the brain doesn’t know that it’s coming from a little love bite. It just knows it feels good.