In addition to writing about love and relationships, I read a fair number of other articles and blogs about them. I’m always open to new ideas, and even if I don’t agree with someone it’s always interesting to read what other people think.
One thing I’ve noticed is that there are a surprising number of women blogging about how they are in a relationship, but they have met someone else and they have either started an affair or they are musing about whether or not they should leave their current relationship for the new one.
I’m not knocking women here, as I’m sure guys find themselves in these situations too. I just haven’t come across articles like that, or the guys just don’t write about it (in fact, I seem to be one of the few guys writing about relationships).
A common theme is that the new person excites them more, or they feel more valued or fulfilled by the new person. Often the person writing is convinced that the new person is a “better match” for them.
Reading the comments section, most readers advise the person to follow their heart, and do whatever it is that makes them happy.
Maybe I’m just jealous because my readers rarely comment (though I suppose I would actually need readers for that), but this stuff drives me crazy!!!
If you’ve read any of my previous entries, you know that I believe people give up on their relationships far too easily, often because they have focused on what they don’t have instead of appreciating what they do. In some ways this post is a bit of a recap of what has come before, but I think it warrants talking about one more time before I move on to different topics.
Purpose of Relationships
Relationships usually start by being all about you. Going into a relationship there are things you are looking for and things you want to get out of it. Why are we in relationships? There’s are all sorts of reasons, and here are a few of the common ones I’ve seen:
- Loneliness. Don’t want to be alone.
- Safety and security.
- Emotional, and sexual fulfillment.
- Want to have a family, and feel it’s best in a “stable” relationship
Pursuit of your own happiness is important, but the complexity of relationships is that they involve two people. In order to be successful they can’t be just about you, they have to grow into more than that.
They become a partnership where you are sharing your life with someone, so the other persons needs have to become as important as your own. Alright, let’s be honest here – people are inherently selfish so your own needs will always take precedence. But your partners needs have to be pretty high up there. Hopefully it’s fairly balanced, but it’s a pretty safe bet that there will be times where your needs and wants will have to take a backseat to your partners.
Your Favorite Movie
Think of movies (I would say books, but sadly few people seem to read anymore). There are lots of them out there, and everyone has their own tastes. You probably have a movie that you love, and go back to again and again.
When you watch a movie a second or third time you may gain a new appreciation for it as you may pick up on a few things that you didn’t notice the first time around. But after a few times there is nothing new. You still enjoy the story and appreciate it for what it is, but it won’t have the same excitement it did when it was new because you already know everything that’s going to happen.
Relationships are like that too. Part of the excitement in relationships comes from discovery. There comes a point where the mystery of learning the other person is gone, because you already know everything about that other person.
A problem is when this happens it’s very easy to get comfortable, and you tend to take the other person for granted (hopefully unintentionally). You still care for each other and enjoy each others company, but that magic from the early days is gone.
Excitement of “The New”
I opened this with a scenario where someone is in a committed relationship, yet they have either stepped out or are considering stepping out because they feel a connection to someone new.
I think the very nature of long term relationships makes this a risk. The excitement and energy of the early days of a relationship feels great, but it’s unsustainable over the long term. Eventually every relationship settles into certain patterns, or rhythms.
And guess what, as time goes on there is a chance that you will meet new people. They may be new co-workers, or friends of a friend. Being in a committed relationship doesn’t mean you don’t find other people attractive. So you meet someone new, and hey, they’re kind of cute. As you start to learn more about them you may start to feel some sort of connection (especially if your own relationship is in a rut). And depending on the state of your own relationship you may start to imagine what life “could be like”. Maybe life could be better with this other person?
If this happens, it’s important to remember that we are always drawn to the new. Is that person really a better match, or are you just starting to get lost in the discovery state? There is excitement in the unknown, because you can’t see it’s flaws. All you see are the possibilities and the potential. And the reality rarely matches our romanticized view of things. A new movie cannot be new forever.
Is Better Really Better?
Hopefully I’ve established that the new exciting person in your life might not actually be your soul mate (or at least a better match). Hopefully you can agree that maybe, just maybe it’s actually the lure of excitement that is attracting someone to the new person in their life.
Just for the sake of argument, lets say the new person really IS a better fit for you. To that I say, so what?
If you ever find yourself in that situation I would recommend you ask yourself to instead take a look at your existing relationship. Are you actually unhappy, or are you just in a rut? If you are unhappy, take a good look and ask yourself why?
There are a lot of reasons to be unhappy. They may have nothing to do with your current relationship. And if they do, they may be resolvable. For your current relationship there was something that drew you together in the first place. Go back, and explore that.
Depending on where you are at in a relationship, I really believe that the relationship becomes bigger than either individual. Yes, your happiness is very important, and I don’t believe people should ever “settle”.
But another perspective is that walking away from something because something else appears better sets you on a dangerous path. There will always be better. Perfection doesn’t exist. Sometimes it’s alright to say “there may be better, but what I have is enough”.
Keeping the Spark Alive
If you go back to my comparison between people and movies there is one big difference that I purposely left out. A movie is always the same (well, until they make a directors cut). But people are always growing, and changing. We aren’t constants. Sometimes we change in small ways, sometimes in larger ones. We are always having new experiences. In long term relationships I think a HUGE mistake couples make is that they fail to recognize that.
So if your relationship is in a rut and you are thinking of moving on to something new, take another look at what you have. Don’t assume that because you already know everything about someone there is nothing else to learn. Rediscover them. Grow with them. Learn each other, and continue to learn each other as your relationship grows. Allow yourself to continue falling in love with the same person over and over again as time goes by.
For any readers in long term relationships (I would define that as more than 2 years), I would love to hear from you. What are the things that have worked for you in “keeping the spark alive”? What do you do to continue to show your partner that you love them? What does your partner do for you that makes you feel loved?
You can either comment below or email me at email@example.com. With any feedback, I would love to hear how long you’ve been together.