Aug 22, 2009

"The Way We Were..." and how to get it back (your 5 a day to relationship health)

One thing that strikes me about the relationships people confide in me about is their tendency to fade from that passionate "can't keep our hands off each other" stage to a lesser "yeah its ok i suppose" mundane sort of existence. And what makes me further curious is the fact that there are two groups of thought:

The Realists believe is that is normal. There is no permanent happy ever after. The honeymoon period always ends at some point in the relationship and after that its simply time to work at staying together. They accept their lot in life through 'fear' or 'laziness' and don't try for anything more.

The Idealists believe that this means the relationship is over as 'love' should be easy not hard so this person is obviously not the 'One' for them. They seek perfection.... either in a 'romantic-i must find my soulmate' sense or a 'practical-i can do better' kinda way.

Like i say i'm curious about the people behind these views but i'm not one of them. I'm not sure of the label i would have but if i had to call myself anything i would say i'm a 'Creator'. I won't tolerate the mundane and i won't seek happiness elsewhere. Someone once told me that 'happiness' is already right where you standing. Not in another country, career or person. If you have to go looking, then you will never find it or have it for long.

Anyway digress ;) So what does a 'Creator' do?

Well i believe we focus on maintaining the passion,
excitement and all that 'feel-good' emotion. We keep the relationship alive so that neither of us want to leave it. In other words.... maintaining the attraction.

And how is this done? Well attraction is a very complex yet simple concept. I could either write pages and pages in detail on what attracts men to women and what attracts women to men. I could breakdown physical, emotional and mental ways to create and build up attraction, but to be honest it only really boils down to 5 things once you are in a relationship. (Meeting or Dating? Well thats a different story!)

So those 5 things?

The 'Feel-Good' Factor:
It stands to reason that both men and women want to feel good about their lives. And feeling great about love is a big part of that. Many couples start to feel bad about the relationship when one or both is not longer fun to be around. Any negative emotion (anger, sadness, neediness etc) directed towards the relationship can cause these bad vibes and if its more that say 20% of your time spent with each other.... then you're messing with the foundations of your future happiness together. If one of you is constantly freaking out or angry about something the other is doing or saying then they have turned into a person that is not inducing 'happy' emotions in their partner.

If someone doesn't feel good around you (say if you are one causing the bad vibes) then its more difficult for your sweetie to want to invest more time and energy into you and the relationship. The easy road is often the road out of the firing line. And then you're one your own.

In the most basic sense.... whatever emotion you feel, your lover will feel too by way of your actions when you are close to them. Remember feelings are guided by thoughts and you can control what you think. Ditch the negative re-occurring insecure rant and adopt a relationship pep-talk instead. Focus on the good and the rest will follow ;)

Emotional Maturity & Understanding:
The way you act with each other from day one when 'bumps' in the road appear is more important than the actual 'bump' itself. So for example how you act when your partner makes a mistake or does something that upsets you and doesn't realise (triggering your insecurities by jealousy, lateness, distance etc). If your girl/guy genuinely cares they won't be doing anything maliciously to upset you. It will be without realising. Emotional experience should bring about an open and understanding response.... not an over emotional or negative one. The person who has messed up will feel bad enough and putting them in a situation where they can't 'make it right' or 'give reassurance' will only trap them into thinking "I can't make this person happy" and/or "If this is what they are like now, how will things get any better in the future the longer we are together?". After a short period they will feel like they have to walk on eggshells just to keep the peace (and trust me they will do anything to keep it, even leave).

Make changes in your 're-actions' and break negative patterns by putting yourself in their shoes and arguing their point of view in your head for 5 minutes. Don't compare their behaviour with others or your own (men are just as different from other men as men are from women and vice versa). Each person will have personal baggage and reasons for who they are and how they behave. As long as they can understand the depth of your hurt just once it is unlikely they will fail to try to avoid the error in the future, especially if they care. And if you're the reason for all the drama... don't do what doesn't work (defend yourself & your actions repeatedly). Understand why they are upset and make it up to your lover in a way they can forgive.

Connection & Attraction:
One thing couples, especially women, do too much of is talking. Having a serious 'talk' with your babe will not inspire feeling of connection or attraction if it comes to more than 2% of your relationship time together. Keep it short, sweet and direct to the point and follow it up with 'fun' after (never go to bed on an argument, unless bed doesn't include sleeping...).

The rest of the time KISS. And i mean keep it simple ;) I say always try treat your girl/guy like its your first few dates. So flirt, kiss, laugh and tease, touch their arm, hold hands and talk about light-hearted rubbish that means nothing. Keep your expectations of what they can/will do for you at early stages of dating level and you will never be disappointed (i'm not saying they won't do more, but your attitude to what they do for you should be to never expect too much. With pressure off, acts of service towards you will be a pleasure not a pain). The more you act like the first stages/flush of love... the more it will be, and any issue or problems that arise will be easier to tackle and it will be more worthwhile solving them between u both.

Actions speak louder than words. So 'do' stuff together that creates a bond between you and shared memories and experiences. Again this links in with the feel-good factor i mentioned earlier. People who feel good when together are likely to develop strong emotional attractions for each other. Emotional attraction is not dependant on physical, intellectual or social attractions. All of these are powerful when meeting and dating, but the latter three are short-lived in actual relationships and can only be re-kindled/maintained (not usually created otherwise we'd all start fancying our friends!) long-term with a strong emotional attraction.

'Icing' on the cake. Not the 'main' ingredient:
Every couple should be better and happier together. That goes without saying. Cake tastes sweeter with icing than without. However cake by itself is just dandy and satisfying. In fact you can live quite happily without any icing your whole life. You aren't bothered if you don't have it and can quite easily get some if you fancy it. A guy or girl in your life should be exactly like that - an additional (quite exciting/sexy) character to a fantastic, fun-filled adventure story that is your life. People want others around to bring something better, not to fill a void or complete someone else. This neediness shows when the girl/guy is less likely to hang out with friends, develop or maintain interests outside the relationship and is controlled by their partner through fear of losing them. When a girl or guy doesn't have much going on in their life besides the relationship its like an unconscious signal to the their partner that they are 'needed' rather than 'desired'. And that too much focus is on the relationship as their source of happiness. Once again there is a pressure (not pleasure) to perform. And no one wants or can cope with that kind of responsibility.

So make sure your life is complete and you have interests outside your love-life. I know its a well known fact but its because its true. One way of looking at it is "if my lover left me today... what do i have?". If all you have is your job and your family then its time to make some positive additions to your life that removes your dependency your partner for their time and attention. Go make them miss you.

No one needs to be rescued:
Nobody likes to be nagged or asked to change. Your partner should love you for who you are, not try and 'fix' you. And vice versa. People will change when they want to for their own reasons and nothing else. If they do it will be short-lived and without much effort. Also people are selfish and will do things for themselves first and foremost. Nothing motivates change like your own misery or happiness (punishment or reward). It then stands to reason that if a guy or girl has behaviour you don't like its easier to manage if they are benefiting from changing their ways not just to make you happy. Couples stay in relationships because their flaws are handled in a way that is indirect rather than head on.

Take time to praise or indicate in passing or better still reward good behavior. Point out what actions you liked or didn't care for in 'other' relationships. Call out their bad behaviour immediately and why it makes you feel bad. Do it once, allow them to make it up to you, then let it go. The more you go on about something they did (or didn't do) the less it makes an impact. If you can't forgive yet and you still feel angry or upset then take yourself away without being 'cold' or giving the silent treatment. The key is to no longer be actively interested... only passively interested. Your lack of activity in the relationship will make more of an impact than any negative emotion you can throw at them. And they will be less likely to associate you with feeling bad (cos you're not there). And if you're the one being asked to change but your lover is going about it the wrong way, call it out as you would any other bad behaviour. You need to know how far you can push against their boundaries if you are to have any respect for them in the future.

Ok so thats the big 5 a day. Go and indulge ;)

As usual
i'm free to chat on msn or by email about relationship stuff so don't be shy. I get quite a few emails a week and girls (mostly) call me or ping on msn so if i can't get back to you right away that why. I do answer everyone though so please be patient!

Until next time... xoxo



Wow, love, as usual: just what I needed to hear. You are indeed an artist! I love your (rare!) posts.


Hey sweetie, do you have any idea how helpful this post was? I am going to go home and print it out because it was THAT helpful for my relationship. Many of these topics have been what have been going on in my brain over and over. I love the part where you said you need to be conscious of whether you are causing the problems and focusing on the positive rather than the negative. If I ever need to vent about what is going on I know who to turn to! Thank you thank you for this!!! :)


once again you bring it...
all this stuff i suppose we know, its just the implementaion that gets hectic. sending links to all my friends in relationships.

CG - Rare :( yes i know. I'm trying!

OD - Glad it was helpful! I research this stuff all the time so its good to know that its not just me that get that "lightbulb" switched on in my brain when reading it!

Rubby - aww thx. Yes we do know it! i guess its just easy to forget ;)

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