Anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship at least once in their lives knows what I’m talking about when I bring up the dreaded relationship rut. When you first start dating someone, they seem to be all you think about. You may find yourself daydreaming or having trouble sleeping at night. Maybe your phone battery even dies more quickly because you’re constantly checking it to see if they’ve texted or called. It’s like you’re walking on air, inÂ love, and you’ve never felt more energized or excited than you do when you get a glimpse of him or her.
This stage of the relationship is called the “romanticÂ love” stage, better known as the “honeymoon” phase. You spend a ton of time learning about your new flame and going on dreamy dates to get to know each other better. You probably have a few “Pinterest-perfect” moments, and give each other small tokens ofÂ affectionÂ to show you’ve been thinking about each other. You really want these newfound feelings to last forever, but you are soon disappointed when you find out they won’t.
You’re not aloneÂ though! The “romantic love” stage of a relationship usually does not last any longer than 18 months. This may vary some with how quickly you rush into the relationship. For example, if you move in together right away, you might just become disillusioned with your new love a lot more quickly than if you’d taken things slower.
It is entirelyÂ normalÂ for a relationship to enter a “rut” once the “honeymoon” phase passes, for a number of reasons:
- Getting too comfortable
- Routine becomes boring
- Experiencing a dry spell
- Dampening of desire
The Truth About Relationship Ruts
Ruts are easiest to get into when you live together, whether you areÂ marriedÂ or not. They are especially easy to bump into when you have children, as they require so very much of each partner’s time and attention. It is also possible for a couple that is still in the dating stageâ€”you don’t live together, you aren’t engaged, you are serious” but you aren’t ready for that next stepâ€”to enter into a relationship rut.
Thanks to our culture’s unrealistic portrayal of love in fairy tales, movies, books, and television shows, many men and women assume that bumping into a relationship barrier (like an over-done routine, lack of gratitude, boringÂ sexÂ life, or lack of communication) means that the relationship is doomed.
They take it as a sign that things have run their course and the person they are with is just not “the one.” Sometimes, they end the relationship without ever broaching the topic with their partner. This is NOT the course of action you should be taking if you’re in a relationship rut; instead, you need to recognize it for what it is, talk to your partner about your feelings, and come up with some solutions to turn it into something positive that will strengthen your relationship.
If you don’t talk to you partner about your boredom, lack of desire, or feelings of being unappreciated, they will start to fester. As they do, you will become hypercritical of your relationship and focus on your partner’s negative traits, rather than their positive ones. This is one of the quickest routes from rut to break up, which is probably not what you want if you’re reading this article. Right? So talk to your partner; they very well could be feeling the same things that you are.
If so, try incorporating some of these tips into your daily lives and see where they take you. Not all relationship ruts originate from the same source (boredom, not spending enough time together, not showing each other enough appreciation), and each and every one may not be effectiveâ€”but one of them is bound to be.
Try sitting down with your partner and talking about which ideas you two think would be most effective for renewing your relationship … then, get going!
1. Renogatiate with your partner.
Do you remember the conversations you used to have in the beginning of your relationship? The ones where you laid out your boundaries, got to know each other’s deeper thoughts and selves, and maybe even made goals for the future together? The things you learned then may not apply anymore now, as you and your partner have grown and changed over the course of your relationship.
Therefore, it is important to take the time to have these conversations every so often as your relationship progresses, as you grow and change as individuals. Try thinking of the situation as a time of renegotiation with your partner.
2. Give each another some space.
When you first started dating your partner, you weren’t around them 24/7. You had time to focus on your own passions and they had time to focus on theirs. Effectively, you were more resistant to burn out and quite possibly more interesting as individuals. There might be some truth to the old clichĂ© “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” after all. Why not take advantage of that toÂ better yourself and strengthen your bondÂ at the same time?
3. Have sex.
Even if it’s just a quickie, an intimate interaction can reinforce the bond that you share and remind your partner of your attraction to them. It’s a simple way toÂ show that you care, but it cannot fix your problems all on its own.
If the belief that your sex life is boring and contributing to your rut, try something novel togetherâ€”making love in a new place or position, role playing, or incorporating toys. Just make sure that you’re both comfortable. The vulnerability that trying something new affords will leave you feeling closer than ever, with a newfound trust.
4. Shake up the routine.
If you do the same thing every day after work, especially if your after-work routine mostly includes passive pastimes like watching television, adding some variability can work wonders. Try going for a walk around your neighborhood after dinner if you don’t usually get out of the house. If one partner usually cooks and the other cleans up, try switching roles.Â The change doesn’t have to be drastic, it just has to be different enough to allow you to see one another in a different light.
5. Try something new together.
This can be as big or as small as you’d like it to be. Bonus points if it’s something thatÂ betters youÂ both as individuals in the long runâ€”like a cooking class or a new fitness routine.
If you have any anti-relationship rut tips of your own, please feel free to share them. These are, by far, not the only ways to overcome one; they are merely suggestions. Failing to plan is planning to fail and taking no action will surely lead to a lack of closeness and distance between you and your love. Leave your relationship rut in the dust by talking it out and deciding on a few small habits to change.
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