Here’s the Key to Sustaining a Long-term Relationship

You must do one thing, many different times.

Aside from infidelity, other betrayals of trust, and financial disagreements, one of the most common causes of loving romantic relationships coming to an end is less tangible. We just get bored in the union or start to drift apart. This is difficult to explain because often, we don’t even understand why it’s happening.

There is such a thing as two people growing apart. For instance, if one partner is advancing in life at a much faster pace than the other or acquiring new, unshared beliefs, it could drive a wedge between the connection. It could alter the initial attraction.

In cases where this hasn’t happened, we know that we feel differently but can’t put our finger on the motive. So, the expression seems harsh. To tell or be told by someone you love that things just aren’t working, without the closure of a valid reason, leaves no room for solutions and little for acceptance. It can lead to one feeling used or thrown away.

We need the because part of the scenario to help wrap our minds around a relationship’s demise. Otherwise, we’re left with more questions than answers, and our thoughts inevitably conjure the most egregious stories to fill the gaps. It’s unfathomable to discover one day that the person you love no longer loves you when nothing has happened to warrant the change of heart.

There’s nothing specific we can point to as the culprit. So we use words like “growing apart” and “feels different” in feeble attempts to explain the phenomenon. In essence, we’re just over the relationship.

Nothing’s changed — but therein lies the problem.

It’s in our nature to long for new experiences and fresh stimuli. Once we get something, after so long, we want something else. Think about a new car that grew old over the years. You may still appreciate the car over time, but you love it a little less than you did in the beginning. You’re not as excited as you once were to get behind the wheel. Then eventually, you may trade it in for one that’s more modern and evokes that desire to explore once again.

It’s the reason we remodel our homes and change our hairstyles. Stuff gets old. We lose interest and want change. We grow bored with routine, even if it’s comfortable.

People shouldn’t be treated like objects, but similar concepts apply.

We sometimes call it the “thrill of the chase,” with a negative connotation. But the thrill is real and not always premeditated. There’s no substitute for the butterflies you get in your belly when first growing closer to someone and falling in love. There’s no substitute for hoping they feel the same and working to garner their favor.

The problem is, once we’ve grown close, acquired that person’s unyielding adoration, and captured their hearts, the thrill is gone. The excitement and allure of the unknown dissipate.

But that sensation is intoxicating and we long to have it again. We crave the passion with which novel endeavors are pursued.

When this happens, some recapture the feeling by moving on to someone new and starting the process all over again. They believe this to be the cure for what ails them. Others understand that the fire can be reignited in their current relationships and work to strike the match. But sometimes it’s too late. Both parties have to want it and be willing to put in the effort.

Some aim to ensure the fire never goes out. And that’s the key.

Though easier said than done, Marcel Proust sums up this concept with his quote:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

It’s not impossible to spend the rest of your life with the same partner without loss of enthusiasm. It’s not inevitable that the journey will become dull. You don’t have to go from person to person in search of romantic fulfillment. It can be cultivated where you are, alongside who you’re with.

The key to sustaining a long-term romantic union is a willingness to constantly reinvent the relationship. You must try different activities and create original experiences. You have to surprise your partner, in a good way, by doing things that previous versions of you wouldn’t have done. You have to continue learning things about one another you hadn’t known before. Introducing an unusual environment is one of the best ways to dig deeper into someone’s persona.

Dating coach Matthew Hussey offers a succinct description of the concept in this video.

You have to keep the experience fresh. That way, it may feel familiar, but never old. Now, that brand new car you got 10 years ago doesn’t seem outdated, it’s a classic. You handle it with care and cruise the streets with pride.

Not every relationship is meant to last. It’s true that some are only for a season and have an expiration date that will not be moved no matter the actions we take to preserve it. We can’t get caught up in trying to revive a lifeless situation.

We’ve all been eluded by lasting love and had once-solid connections fail or flounder. So, no one can claim to be an expert on what works 100 percent of the time.

However, if you desire long-term commitment and believe it’s attainable (and your partner does as well) — the idea of finding ways to see a person and relationship with new eyes is just as formidable as any other. It makes the case that the probability of achieving such a feat lies not in loving 100 different people in hopes of getting it right with one of them, but in finding 100 different ways to love the same person.

Author of the critically acclaimed book on women and relationship status, “Single That.”

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