Not many of us set out with the intention of snagging a boring mate. Nevertheless, sometimes we look up to realize the spark is gone. Here’s how to fight that fizzle.
You meet her. You both hit it off. You date for a few months. You enjoy spending time together. Tons of laughter. Picnics in the parks. Road trips up the coast. Maybe even visiting the parents.
But then something switched.
You’re not kissing as much as you used to.
The sex feels different.
You don’t text each other as much.
That magic is gone.
The spark fades.
What’s going on is that you’ve reached a new level of normal. You get acclimated to someone. Your partner is no longer the fresh, wild and undiscovered person you first met. And that’s fine. Life is full of ebbs and flows. Peaks and valleys. No high lasts forever.
So what do you do?
1. Accept what’s happening.
Resisting the reality only makes it worse. And pretending it’s not there doesn’t work either. By accepting I don’t mean I actually want it to be happening; rather, I allow it to be there without pushing against it. From there, you can have some choice around what to do.
2. Get clear on what your experience is.
Before you get into a conversation with your partner about what is happening, take some time to sit down and get clear for yourself what is going on for you. Is your sex drive not there anymore? Do you find yourself more annoyed at the little things your partner does? Are you having doubts about your level of commitment or compatibility? What you are experiencing might not be what your partner is experiencing, so get clear on that first. And then get clear on what you want. Given what’s happening, what do you want to happen?
3. Have an open, honest conversation.
This is the courageous part because it might be calling out the elephant in the room, but it also involves sharing some vulnerable feelings. One key in doing this is to do it in a way where you own your own experience. What does that mean? It means sharing what’s true for you in away that is not arguable.
For example, “You don’t love me as much anymore.” That is arguable. It might be true that your partner doesn’t love you as much anymore; but that statement is arguable. It’s a story. You’re projecting into your partner’s experience. A truer statement would be “When we don’t spend as much time together during the week, I feel ignored and disconnected from you.” In that statement you are stating a fact (what’s happening) and how you feel in response to it. “When _____, I feel _____.” You can’t argue with someone’s feelings, but you can argue with what might be causing those feelings. Speaking in this way is much more powerful and eliminates projecting stories onto the other person.
4. Listen to their experience.
Conversations about love, sex and relationship can be heated and bring up our own insecurities and defenses. So after you get to share your own experience, pause and just listen to your partner next. No interrupting. Know that just as the conversation is vulnerable for you, it’s likely vulnerable for them, too. This is your partner you’re talking to, so bring compassion.
One technique that works well is after your partner shares, you repeat back what you heard: “What I heard you say is ____.” And then they do the same after you’ve shared. And if anything in their reflection is not accurate, then correct it. This really helps prevent misunderstandings.
5. Look at some possible causes.
Are you spending too much time apart?
Are you on your phones when you’re together?
Do you no longer take time to cultivate your own lives and identities outside of the relationship?
Are you not taking care of yourselves physically/mentally/spiritually?
Is there any anger or other negative emotions that aren’t being expressed?
Do you no longer connect on a personal level? Is it just superficial conversations?
6. Decide together on what will help you both feel more connected to each other.
After you’ve both heard each other share what’s really going on and you both feel seen and heard, it’s time to co-create your next steps. What’s really the issue? Is it a matter of shifting perspective? Do you need to create some daily or weekly rituals? Do you need to spend more time together? More time apart?
Relationships are organic and dynamic. They require continual attention and intention. Don’t let a temporary dip derail you.
[image: via Ed Yourdon on flickr]