I was with friends recently when the subject of 'the honeymoon period' came up. It quickly became apparent to me that people seem to have a rigid belief that all long-term relationships have this point at which, inevitably, things start to go south.
Curious, I asked around to see what people consider to be signs that the honeymoon period - that joyful, exciting phase at the very beginning of a relationship - is over.
Here's what came back to me:
- The sex becomes less frequent, less exciting and kind of... samey
- The fights get more intense and last for longer
- The things you found quirky about them in the beginning, now just get on your nerves
- The little presents, the nice surprises, the middle-of-the-day loving texts become less frequent and then stop all together
- You don't want to be around each other so much
- You stop making an effort with your appearance/attractiveness (actually, this one came to me as "You start farting in front of each other"... I really didn't want to blog about farts, so I translated it)
What got to me was how these changes seem so universally accepted as inevitabilities. How incredibly depressing, I thought. And I remembered when I too held this same belief... and how much my relationship at the time sucked.
Thankfully, a little (or a lot, in my case) of education goes a long way. So please allow me to explain away this absolute MYTH that all long-term relationships have to 'lose that spark' or, as some people seem to honestly believe, inevitably turn to crap.
So, let's clear this up...
There are THREE fundamental changes that take place over the course of a long-term relationship. And all the little things - the lack of sex, the fights and the lack of effort-making - all fall under these three processes. And there are ways of offsetting the amount of damage that is done by them and even using them as a platform from which to grow yourself and your relationship.
'Polarity' is a big subject that can be spoke about at length. It's one of the fundamental concepts I use to heal couples and individuals. In a nutshell, within the context of this subject, depolarization - the loss of polarity - refers to that loss of 'spark', of passion in your relationship. It's when the energy exchange between the masculine and feminine forces starts to neutralize. As a result, sexual attraction to each other and maybe labido in general starts to diminish. The depolarizing happens slowly over time and if not understood, becomes worse and worse. It comes about in a number of ways, but ultimately these are just symptoms as are the things listed earlier that supposedly signify the end of the honeymoon period.
The primary cause of depolarization is when the masculine partner (usually the man) starts to lose presence in the relationship. He pays less attention and becomes more preoccupied with other things such as work. As a result, his partner feels unloved, unappreciated and even 'unsafe' in the relationship. The natural and unconscious response then is for her to become removed from her feminine and even step into her masculine.
The reverse occurs when the feminine partner (usually the woman) fails to make her man feel supported and admired. Pointing out flaws, not believing in his ideas, putting more energy into complaining about what he's doing wrong than into what positive traits he has; these will cause his masculine to diminish over time and even create resentment that he may not be conscious of.
When both partners are in their masculine, you get lots of fighting. When both are in their feminine, there's usually lots of love but zero passion. And in neutralization the result is a woman who feels undesired and becomes 'frumpy' and a man who stops trying and loses his sense of direction has he allows himself to become castrated.
This one is a lot easier to explain. Simply, the more access we have to something, the less value we tend to attribute to it. We become used to it always being there and fail to appreciate its uniqueness and special qualities. This can happen with anything from our home, money, a great job and even our intimate partner.
At first, the newness of the relationship provides novelty. Over time, as we become more familiar with our partner, we get lots of certainty but novelty can wear off.
As we fail to express appreciation for out partner, they quite obviously start to feel less appreciated. And when they feel this way, are they going to make more effort or less effort to impress you or make YOU feel appreciated? They may try more at the first signs if they notice that the relationship is losing that spark... but if BOTH partners aren't seeing the other make a heartfelt effort to do the same, it won't take long before neither of you is making an effort any more.
We all have unresolved childhood issues. All of us. Feelings that were never validated, dysfunction we witnessed with our parents and have become phobic of experiencing ourselves... essentially we're talking mummy and daddy issues.
It's a very real thing that we ALL have.
And it's in intimacy that we get to learn exactly what these issues are... if we understand that the major re-occurring upsets we're experiences are a manifestation of those unresolved issues. And that's what being 'triggered' is. It's those moments of strong (maybe even extreme) upsets that seem to come from nowhere and are difficult to get out of.
What happens in intimacy is that as we get deeper into the relationship and into the other person, as we let them deeper into us, we let our partner get closer to the part of our heart where those childhood issues live. And as such, they get touched - like a raw nerve - with greater ease as the subconscious sees our partner's behaviour as an opportunity to bring those deeply buried issues to the surface so they can be processed.
This is why there are many of us who are perfectly 'normally' functioning people with friends, acquaintances, colleagues and strangers, but with a partner we've been with for a certain amount of time, we can be very quick to anger and resentment and behave in ways that our friends would never have seen in us before.
And so it's these processes that create the list of 'symptoms' mentioned earlier. They're not 'signs' that you've entered some inevitable phase of crappiness that comes with long-term relationship - they are preventable symptoms of the three processes above. These processes I would describe as 'naturally occurring' and somewhat unavoidable but they should be seen as opportunities to grow. To treat the symptoms, to heal the hurt, they all require giving more to our partner and extending more and more understanding and essentially working on ourselves. If you're not up for that, then you're not up for long-term relationship.
How to turn these processes into opportunities to grow as a persona and as a couple... to reverse the damage of depolarization, familiarization and triggering?
In essence, honestly... put your partner first. Give more than you take. As Tony Robbins puts it, to avoid the relationship ending, treat them like you did in the beginning of the relationship and there will be no end.
Also, be willing to work on yourself.
In this way, if you are making an effort to tune into your partner, you will be in a better place feel when they need more variety, more certainty or more connection. And when you are making an effort to tune into yourself, you will be in a better place to identify when the cause of the dysfunction and upsets lies within you.
If you haven't got it already, you can receive a free copy of my Relationship Blueprint that provides actual steps to prevent the honeymoon period from ending. They are the nuts and bolts, tried-and-tested methods of growing and maintaining connection. Just enter your email in the form at the bottom of this website. It's totally free and you will receive occasional emails to let you know when I've written another article like this. You can unsubscribe right after you get your free e-book if you want!
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