What to do when the passion fades
If you've ever been in a long-term relationship, you know the story of passion
Most of us would love passion to fuel our life and work every day.
That’s always how it starts, right? When you begin something, it’s pretty much all passion.
Whether you’ve felt a call into something, you’re starting a new job, you’re toying with a new idea, or you’re even beginning a new relationship, passion gets us out of the gate almost every time. And it can stay around for a season or two.
The problem is for all of us, passion fades. Even when we know something is right-that we really shouldn’t be doing anything else-passion wanes. Give it a season, a year, or (for the ultra passionate), a decade, eventually it just doesn’t feel like it used to. Or like we think it’s supposed to.
If you’ve ever been in a long-term relationship (or just listened to a friend in a long-term relationship hash out their love woes over brunch), you know how the story goes: when you first meet someone that you really like, it’s as if life as you know it completely changes. You can’t eat, you can’t sleep, you can’t think of anything but them — and when you’re finally together, it’s like the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Doing anything that keeps you apart — from spending the day at work to accepting the Nobel Peace Prize — just feels like a chore, another annoyance keeping you from spending more blissed-out time with your new love.
And then, after a while, things..cool down. You still love each other — in fact, you probably feel a deeper and more intimate emotional connection than you did when you first began dating. But after you’ve been together for a while, the urges to spend every second together gazing into each other’s eyes seem to disappear, replaced by urges to pee with the door open or have petty arguments about what to order for dinner tonight. We know that this change feels almost inevitable; but why does it happen? And is there anything we can do to fight it, and make our relationship feel new again?
Love may feel like it’s all in our minds — but it is actually a physical process, as well, and the mental and bodily sensations we associate with new love have a lot to do with brain chemistry. So what does all this mean? Well, for starters, it shows that if it feels like your fire for your partner has dimmed, it’s not necessarily because you’re a jerk or taking your relationship for granted…it’s because, scientifically, our brains aren’t wired to maintain that level of initial ardor for the length of an entire relationship.
Perhaps you’re losing hope now. If our brain wiring made it so that after a few years, our natural tendency is to just watch Netflix together and only touch when we reach for the same nacho, what hope do we have of fighting this thing? A lot, it turns out; though decreased passion after some time together may be the brain’s default mode, there are things we can do to rekindle some of that passion we once felt.
Stay Playful. Explore New Spots. Hit Rewind, revisit old dates. Pay Compliments. Take a little space. Know yourself. These are the things that will ensure your passion spark again.
Increase your communication and not just about trivial day to day things. Go on a date and discuss your hopes and dreams, perhaps the way you used to when you were first dating. Maybe take a note from things you did when you were in the honeymoon phase. Recreate a first date or pick up an old hobby that you used to enjoy together.
Understanding how your partner gives and receives affection can be key to ensuring you are communicating your passion for one another effectively. For example, if your love language involves spending quality time together, they will value a date night without the kids, much more then that bouquet of flowers you usually buy them.
No one ever promised that all of our days would be filled with passion. Nor, actually, is passion listed as a virtue. Guess what is listed as a virtue? Perseverance. You will have days, weeks, even seasons that are characterized by passion for what you’re doing. And you will have periods of time – sometimes very long periods of time – where you will simply have to persevere. On the other side of perseverance is renewed passion. Probably the best thing one can do if one’s got a great idea, a great calling, a great work, or a great love is hang in there.
Yes, you can keep things passionate even after years and years together.