Well, it’s no secret that I’m always writing and talking about love and romance from the beginning (Honeymoon Period) all the way to forever. Remember me? I’m the guy who’s always pushing the idea of the “Honeymoon Forever,” the idea that the initial hope and excitement that brings two people together in love can last a lifetime – that is, if they go into a partnership with a healthy perspective, an open, non-critical mind, and a lot of mindful effort.
A love connection that lasts a long, long time is no easy thing to accomplish. Even with a conscious approach and effort, two people can drift apart, even after years of relative relationship success.
Yesterday, I came across a great article posted on a terrific website about love and relationships called LovePanky.com. I really like this site because their writers really tackle contemporary relationship issues from an intelligent and thoughtful point of view – not like the drivel I typically read out there in the blogosphere!
This particular article, “12 Reasons Why Couples Drift Apart Over Time” really grabbed me; especially the two words, “over time.” I’m usually writing about the things couples can do to keep their mutual love alive and not so much why partnerships break apart. Anyway, the writer, Sophia Strutt, talks about the reasons couples lose their feelings for each other, many times not even knowing why they can’t even imagine a future together!
Strutt sets up the article by commenting about how the passion and excitement of new love can turn sour when each partner sinks into complacency or loses the will to please the other – bliss turns into boredom. It all makes sense to me.
Her first reason, “Non-Communication,” is a no-brainer. Bad communication can really cause what I call “relationship drift,” especially when you think you know everything about your lover, or take them for granted.
For Strutt, “Suppressed Emotions” (which I think is really a subset of “non-communication”) is a biggie. I believe that holding in your feelings is a good way to push away love, even love that’s slowly developed between you two over the years. There’s nothing worse than “walking on eggshells” because you’re afraid of your partner’s reactions when you truly attempt to express how you really feel.
Then there’s the “Incompatibility” issue. Strutt talks about testing compatibility right at the beginning of your relationship as opposed to finding out years later that you never really had anything in common with your partner. I agree with this idea, but I also believe that two people can develop new compatibilities over time. After all, people do change and discover new interests, often, together.
Strutt’s fourth reason why couples drift apart over time is all about what she calls “Swollen Egos;” where two partners act as their own self-centered agents –where there is no tolerance or “giving in” for the sake of the relationship. No argument from me there!
Reason # 5: “Emotional Affairs”: a great one! It’s about when one or both partners begin to confide more in someone outside the relationship than in the other partner. Sounds like a potentially lethal form of abandonment to me. I agree with Strutt: “There is a fine line between friendship and emotional affairs”. However, this is not to say that all of our needs can be met by one person, but only that confiding in your partner is the best way to go.
Number 6: “Initiative.” Strutt states: “In a successful relationship, both partners have to take an active interest in pleasing each other and making the other person happy.” Hmm… “Make the other person happy?” Certainly each partner needs to take the initiative to keep their relationship from stagnating, but I’m not so sure that anyone can really ever make another truly happy. Happiness to me is more of an inside job – something one needs to do for him or herself. But that’s a whole other topic for another day.
“Life Directions”: Strutt says that this is when each partner may pursue different life paths or interests, and one or the other may begin to think the relationship is perfect and needs nothing new to keep it alive. Again, I think Strutt’s talking about the problem of relationship stagnation and lack of communication that can lead to “relationship drift.”
“Confrontations,” or the avoidance of confrontation, can definitely be a major roadblock to lasting love. Too much avoidance or the refusal to talk over sensitive issues definitely falls under a problem with communication. Strutt thinks (as I do), that this lack of communication can undermine any relationship. I would go further here; too much confrontation can cause the other to feel beaten down or shamed. Any confrontation is a delicate matter where love is concerned.
“Sexual Intimacy” is a really volatile issue that can make or break most intimate partnerships. I love what Strutt says about it: “You may think you’re content with the lack of sexual intimacy, but in reality, that’s because both of you are turning into siblings instead of a romantic couple!” So true! Sexual excitement has to be worked at for relationship longevity. I say, ya gotta keep the home fires burning!
And what about “Emotional Intimacy”? I’m glad Strutt brings this one up. She talks about the importance of maintaining that close emotional connection, where you are still excited about communicating with your partner, even the little things like sharing what happened during your day. It keeps you turned on to your partner and engaged in your relationship. Again, finding true love (and keeping it) is all about healthy communication. Strutt also cautions that the absence of emotional intimacy may lead to emotional affairs, or worse, sexual affairs. I couldn’t agree with her more!
They say that who you give your time to is the true measure of love. “Lack of Time for Each Other” is a very big reason why Strutt says lovers can inevitably drift apart. The busy (WAY too busy!) pace of our frenetic society absolutely drives down long-term love! Long-time complacency, where two people learn to be too comfortable without the other, is a relationship killer, too!
And finally, she writes about the accursed “Buildup of Resentments” leading to relationship drift. There’s nothing like the slow (and undiscussed) buildup of ill feelings towards the other over time that will erode any relationship – even one that contains a “whole lotta love”!
So that’s Sophia Strutt’s complete list of the “12 Real Reasons Why Couples Drift Apart Over Time”. And it’s a good list, too. But to me, it all comes down to two main things that pop up over and over in this well-written article: 1) Good communication and 2) The required effort of BOTH partners to keep the flames of love going. It takes perseverance and loving dedication to achieve a true “Honeymoon Forever”!