Doctor NerdLove explains how even when we think we’re doing everything right, bad habits can sneak in and ruin a perfectly good romance.
It’s surprisingly easy to ruin a perfectly good relationship. You may not be aware that you’re doing it. Hell, you may think that you’re doing everything right to help keep your relationship healthy and strong… so when your significant other sits down across from you at dinner with that look on his or her face—you know the one—it comes as a total surprise. The problem is that sometimes what helps a relationship survive—and what ends up killing it instead—can be completely counter-intuitive. Some behaviors, especially if you’ve been single for a while or just aren’t used to committed, long-term relationships, may feel absolutely natural to a single person… but they’re poison to relationships. If you want to keep your relationship running strong, you need to know what you may be doing that might be ruining it instead.
You’re Letting Sex Just “Happen”
One of the biggest lies that we tend to absorb is that we shouldn’t think too much about sex. Sex is best when it is utterly spontaneous and the best way for sex to occur is that you throw yourselves at each other like a couple of weasels in heat when you happen to have a free moment. The strength of your relationship is measured by how often any alone time turns into the two of you sucking face like a couple of hogs eating the same banana. If you really love each other sex will just happen. If the sex happens to slow down (or stop all together)… well that’s a sign that something’s wrong. You’re probably not doing enough to help your partner relax and get in the mood.
So What’s The Problem?
That random, spontaneous sex is great… when you’re still in the honeymoon stage of the relationship and everything is new and exciting. The problem is, that mad passion is going to fade. It’s a part of every relationship – the initial wave of passion recedes and is replaced by a deeper emotional intimacy and companionship. After that initial wave of passion, when you’ve started to settle into your life as a couple, it gets harder to make sex “just happen”. Responsibilities mount up and eat away your free time. You may have deadlines that you can’t afford to miss and trying to meet them saps your energy. Your partner may be stressed about work and just can’t spare the time to think about sex. The housework has mounted up to the point where you feel like you’re fighting an unending battle against disorder and mess. There will be more and more nights when one or both of you are just so goddamn tired that the spirit may be willing but the flesh would really rather go to bed and try again tomorrow. And if you have kids… yeah. Good luck. An active, satisfying sex life is incredibly important to a relationship – too important, in fact, to just leave it up to chance. So instead of hoping that life really is like a Cialis commercial and waiting for the right moment to come around, you make it happen. You put sex on the schedule and stick to it. Treating sex like something on your weekly to-do list can feel a little odd at first – it’s hard getting past being taught that sex is supposed to be a spur-of-the-moment thing – but it actually makes sense. If it’s a regularly recurring event, you learn to schedule around it and ensure that you have the time to make the magic happen. Even if you’re not strictly in the mood, taking the time for at least some naked snuggling can help reduce tension, improve feelings of intimacy and get those endorphins flowing.
You Have Too Much Togetherness
One of the best parts about a relationship is that you don’t just have hot-and-cold running sex on demand and splitting half the rent, you’ve got yourself a partner in crime! You never have to feel lonely because you know that they’ll be right there with you through thick and thin! Right there! All the time! Because that’s what couples do! So you’re dragging her off to watch Prometheus – even though she can’t stand sci-fi – and in exchange you’re going hiking in the woods with her even though you hate the sun and are allergic to just about everything with more than two legs. Even when all you want to do is unwind after a very long day of dealing with the assholes at work and blow away some pastel colored bastards in Whimsyshire, she wants you to come with her to do the grocery shopping. Meanwhile when all she wants is to relax on the couch with some popcorn and quality time with the boys from SAMCRO, you want her to come with you to the beer tasting at the local microbrewery. And when it comes right down to it, your friends have all come to accept that hanging out with one of you means hanging out with both of you… despite the fact that what you really want is just a night out with your buddies. Because you’re supposed to share every moment you can together. Because that’s what couples do. Even if it means that you’re sighing with barely concealed frustration in the produce aisle. And she’s pointedly checking her watch while you’re in line for the Pecan Porter. And your friends have quit calling because… well, they’re getting frustrated over the fact that you’re only available as a package deal.
So What’s The Problem?
Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean that you’re now joined at the hip or that you no longer have any need for time on your own. In fact, it’s more important that you both get some alone time than it was before you started dating. There is no better way to smother the flames of romance than to squeeze every single ounce of togetherness you can out of life. Think of it like two rats in too small of a cage; eventually they end up trying to kill each other. All of those petty little irritations and annoyances have a way of building up over time; if you don’t have some sort of a release valve, you can quickly find that your love has been replaced by bitterness and resentment for smothering the life you used to have. You need space, emotional as much as physical, to let your frustrations dissipate and have an identity beyond “Half Of A Couple”. A brief escape from all that togetherness – whether it’s physically going somewhere else or taking a couple hours to zone out in front of the computer or Xbox without being disturbed – can make all the difference between feeling as though you’ve got your beloved trying to crawl up your ass and remembering that you’re actually in love even though he annoys the shit out of you sometimes. It’s worth noting that teen couples are especially prone to this behavior – when you’re young and full of fluctuating hormones, every relationship feels like THE MOST EPIC ONE IN HISTORY!!!! and you’re supposedto be wanting to spend every waking moment around your honey or else it’s proof everything is falling apart and he’s cheating on you and she’s about to go pull a train on a bunch of jocks because you fucked up and she’s mad at you. They get over it. Theoretically.
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