How people are bored in relationships, how stress is taking over their lives and how people are tired of having to deal with relationships.
In this blog we will look the different stages in relationships and how boredom, complacency and busyness is taking over relationships. The initial fun and fervour of the early stages in the relationship will wear off if it isn’t induced and infused with elements of fun. Just like a tree, your relationship needs to be watered with elements of fun to keep it supple and vibrant.
1.1.Stages in relationships
Katrina slammed the door and didn’t want to see Sam’s face. She was tired of the constant fights. This once romantic couple who loved each other deeply were resenting each other and constantly bickering. The word was tired – she was exhausted trying to make things work. The pressures at work were piling up, they hardly made plans to meet each other and all she needed were more of Sam’s tantrums. Sam felt the same way, he was angry and stressed about losing his promotion and he felt Katrina didn’t understand his needs in the relationship and kept fighting and distracting him from his goals. He felt she was selfish. He felt unloved and uncared for. He was tired too.
Sounds familiar? Many relationships which start off lovey dovey can reach this stage of stagnation at some point. Numerous stressors take over and the once fun and frolic relationship becomes stressful and tiring. All relationships follow a pattern and it is our onus to keep the fun and spark alive in our relationships. I live by this principle – my relationship experience is about me. Thus, if I feel my relationship is tiring and draining, who is responsible to change that? Before we go ahead and see how we can change the tiring to fun, let’s go through the stages a relationship essentially goes through for you to find out where you are.
When Katrina and Sam first met at a friend’s destination wedding ,there were sparks. She enjoyed getting to know him and the more she learnt, the more she wanted to know. He was a bit arrogant and full of himself but what the heck, she admired that confidence he has. She felt she was being too hard on Sam and reprimanded herself. Sam and her kept in touch after the wedding. Katrina She was in love again. Though Katrina was in Los Angeles and Sam was in New York, they had a crazy courtship period. They planned to meet after one month. When they met the chemistry was intense. Katrina couldn’t take her eyes off Sam and Sam couldn’t keep his hands to himself. Sex was amazing. Though it was a long distance relationship, they made time to keep in touch with each other.
New couples ride the tide of love and romance when they meet. At this point the couple is beginning to know each other. It is a very exciting stage and the relationship feels like an adventure. It promises to be wonderful and fulfilling. You feel butterflies in your stomach. In this stage and you see your partner’s light side. You believe this relationship is different or you hope it to be different from other relationships. You are in complete denial of your partner’s dark side. If he smokes in front of you, you ignore it even if you don’t like smokers You look at him through rose tinted glasses. It feels like a dream. You feel like you are in a fairytale. You are getting to know this person and enjoying the connection. Most relationships start this way and at this point both partners are excited and happy and the relationship seems fun and exciting.
Next comes the honeymoon stage. This is a stage of complete euphoria. You are falling in love and nothing can go wrong. You are floating on cloud nine. You are on a high. Everything seems beautiful. You feel deep love and optimism is all you need to sustain the relationship. You don’t see any flaws in each other and even if you do, you sweep them under the rug. You feel like you are on drugs. There are long phone conversations and meet ups. The sex is great and you both do a lot of fun and exciting things together. The more time you spend with him, the more mutual fulfilment you both have from each other and the relationship. People hope to always be in the honeymoon stage.
Sam and Katrina needed to be in each others lives and needed daily doses of each other. In fact a few daily doses. Katrina was famous for doing 2 out of 7 days of an antibiotic course when she was unwell. She’s a non conformist. In this case, she waited impatiently for her doses of Sam as they came and she’d figured out that 4 hours was the max she could last without a craving. They kept planning meet ups and were constantly messaging and calling each other. Their interactions had also become very nonchalant, there is a sense of freedom, mischief and casualness. They could just say anything to each other. Katrina told Sam many things about herself not many people knew and they discussed weird sexual intimate and private issues with each other with such comfort. There was ease and camaraderie and most of all fun in their relationship.
1.1.3 Internal stressors
After the highs, come the lows. The thrill of the honeymoon phase wears off and routine and differences start showing up. Life takes over. The relationship takes up a backseat. Some couples break up here. This usually happens about six months to two years in most relationships. This stage is when your first or subsequent fights and arguments start. This is where the magical fairytale starts to fade and you start dealing with real life issues like him leaving the toilet seat up or drinking milk straight out of the carton. There are differences in both your personalities which become unbearable. Both start testing their power in the relationship and cannot accept each others flaws. They become intolerant to each other. Fights happen and reality sets in.
1.1.4 External stressors
External stressors are things outside the relationship you have no control over. It could be your career, financial situation, mother’s health or children’s school fees. You keep wondering how come all this never mattered to you before. As the relationship founders in a backwash of disillusionment, poor communication and misunderstanding the couple thinks their relationship is all a mistake. There is a diminishment in mutual fulfilment At this stage, the internal stresses don’t go away. The internal stresses are still there. Internal and external stressors are accumulative and ongoing and worsen. Most people just hang on in such relationships. At times you get so comfortable in the stage, you just stick it out no matter how dead or toxic the relationship is.
Katrina and Sam reached that stage 6 months into their relationship. Guess what, they were both Taureans. The long distance and their respective lives were the triggers. Katrina started demanding more from Sam. Sam was trying hard to work on his start up on the side and always made his work his first priority. Katrina felt alone. Sam felt misunderstood. What happened to loving and being loved and the other byproducts of the relationship – intimacy, companionship, acceptance and support? Why wasn’t the relationship giving them mutual fulfilment anymore?
Both parties try keeping things together at best as they can for as long as they can. Either they just hang in there until the children leave for college or they busy themselves with many things and they put their relationship needs on hold. The honeymoon stage is completely gone. They both know there are differences. The connection is on and off yet they hang in there tolerating the relationship, trusting it would get better. Both get used to the relationship. Demoralising disillusionments, tortured miscommunications and a marred idea of “perfect relationships” ignite resentment. The person who was previously the lover, ally and companion is now seen as the antagonist.
This is where Sam and Katrina are at the moment. The relationship doesn’t give them mutual fulfilment and they feel alone in their relationship. They can’t move forward or backward and are stuck in this vicious cycle. Katrina blames Sam for not making time for her and his lack of care and concern. Sam blames Katrina for constantly judging him and over expecting. He says she is very clingy. Their relationship had reached a place of familiarity in the empty abyss. Misunderstanding is an active process – it results when one partner has a distorted view of the other. This distortion in turn leads to a misinterpretation of what the other says or does. It was a cycle and breaking it seemed hard and tedious.
Let’s take a pause here and look at what really has gone wrong.
Sam and Katrina got together because they were both majorly attracted to each other. Sam and Katrina enjoyed each others company because both felt an excitement and a connection with each other. They did fun things early on in their relationship. Katrina used to write long emails of love declarations to Sam, confessing how she felt, how she wants to be touched and acknowledging Sam for his love and affection. They used to plan meet ups and romantic getaways. They used to give gifts to each other and surprise each other with small little loving actions. They used to connect 24 hours a day and say I love you to each other for nothing
After working with many women and looking deeply into relationships, I have discovered that most women usually seek help at this point. They are at their wits end and need a solution. Their problem is hurting them like an old wound that keeps resurfacing when its kicked. Most couples at this stage usually accept their fates and simply settle. They tide along the waves in their unhappy sad relationships and accept things. It is easy to blame life, God, karma and everyone else. It’s the easiest way out. Separation and divorce also takes place here when you can’t take the relationship anymore. You are mature enough to realise you have had enough. It takes courage and a level of maturity to move on and start afresh.
Rekindling is an option. Rekindling means bringing back the fire and life into your relationship. And that’s what this book aims to do. It’s for couples who need ways to rekindle the relationship. They are mature enough to know they need and want the relationship – it matters to them. They are not happy settling – they know in the back of their minds that there is a problem and they are unhappy. They don’t want to get divorced or separated as they still love their partners. They want to work on the relationship and they need help. Seeing a relationship coach is a good thing to do at this point or adding some fun and sparkle back to your relationship.
Having worked with many women at the maturity stage, I’ve realised fun is the most important thing that keeps the relationship alive. Striving to build a foundation of trust, respect, loyalty and security does matter as well as being sensitive, understanding, affectionate and caring towards each other. However once the fun stops, the relationship starts to go south. Right after the honeymoon stage, when the internal and external stressors take over, many couples forget to have fun. It becomes all about work, the children, my life, my needs, me, me and me.
Katrina stopped calling Sam. When she stopped, Sam stopped too. She stopped giving presents to Sam after he made such a big deal about his birthday present being horrible and unthoughtful. She was scared to buy presents he might hate. They started going to bed without saying goodnight. Sam starting making work more important and Katrina got busy with friends from work. They stopped having fun. They stopped celebrating their monthly anniversaries. They started making everything else more important than each other. There were expectations, judgements and misinterpretations of each other’s actions. Slowly both gave up.
I want to bust the common myth that boring is the foundation of stable relationships. Of course as the relationship progresses you don’t feel the butterflies in your tummy or the sex hormones don’t rage as much as before, but keeping the fun alive is important. Some people feel boring usually signifies stable, consistent and reliable. When I was growing up, my mother always warned me not to fall for the playboys. She said they might be wild, fun and exciting but won’t be good life partners. Life partners had to be reliable and responsible. Read, boring.
Many people believe that there’s nothing better than a boring relationship because even though you are spend large chunks of time grocery shopping and sharing silence, the relationship is solid. You are comfortable with each other, you hardly fight or get anxious about what to message or say to each other. You don’t need to stress about what they will think of your outfit or if they will show up on time or if they will like you back. You don’t waste your time analysing everything the other person says and does. You aren’t spending hours complaining about them to your friends and searching online for advice. You aren’t obsessing over how to win him over — because they already “love” you. You have adjusted to each other and you have chosen to be with your partner, his flaws and all. You no longer miss the honeymoon stage and you are at peace with that environment.
You stop trying to do things to excite your boyfriend like surprising him on his birthday. You stop dressing up special on date nights. You stop even having date nights. You stop having sex. Other things matter more at this point rather than your partner. And this is exactly what happened with Sam and Katrina.
Sam got so busy with his new job. He gave it priority over spending time with her. She was bored the relationship not going anywhere. They stopped making each other feel special and things became BORING but they both still stayed in the relationship. Their fights became more intense, make up times took longer. They even stopped enjoying sex as often as they did before. They knew there was a problem but didn’t do anything about it. One day Katrina asked Sam, “Don’t you think our relationship has lost its spark?” Sam replied, “All relationships become like this, you are simply overanalysing things.” And the relationship kept becoming boring, comfortable and dangerously toxic.
1.3 The 3 killers
The first one – busyness. Busyness is the constant state of most people these days. We are always doing something even if it is not producing a result. I see many people with 2 mobile phones, 3 Gmail accounts and 4 different social media accounts posting about their lives on different platforms and simply being busy for no reason. A lot of people have filled their lives up with so much that in the process they are losing the essence of fun in their lives and relationships.
I think one of the most common statements I hear when people discuss the topic of relationships, or anything really, is how busy they are. Any time I’m in an elevator somewhere, the small talk conversation is always about the level of busy-ness. “So so busy, I don’t even know how I will get it done”. It is good to have lots to do and while I believe in living a full life, I think it’s interesting how our preoccupation with busy replaces our pursuit of other things in life. When it comes to our love lives, many people when asked about why they don’t have a man yet respond with, “Hey, I’m just too busy for a relationship.” “I’m too busy loving myself to love someone else”. “I have too much on and don’t have to meet or court anyone”. I’ve seen and known of people who break off or undervalue their current relationships because of how busy their calendar has become.
Busyness keeps you from initiating emotional conversations with your partner which in turn leads to becoming emotionally distant and disconnected from your partner. Another form of busyness could be having completely separate lives and hobbies. If you spend most of your time away from your partner, engaging in your own separate interests and hobbies, it may be a challenge to find something to do together. Busyness could also include simply going with the flow of things without agreeing to disagree with each other. Simply going with the flow of life, focusing too much on your personal goals, not making time for the relationship, overlooking each others emotional needs, having completely separate lives and hobbies, not making time for your partner and failing to be in the present moment are signs of busyness.
Katrina got busy with her work too. She got busy with reading. She got busy with her new Zumba class. She used to spend 730 to 9 am every morning talking to Sam from the gym. She enjoyed those moments with him every morning. As the relationship progressed, she started taking Sam’s presence for granted. She stopped asking him questions, or wondering about his day or inquiring about his inner world. She stopped being present during the call. They chose this time slot because it worked well for Sam and Katrina was happy to oblige in the beginning. Now she began resenting having ti make the sacrifice. Worst of all, she forgot to be present with him. She might be on the phone with him, but her mind was elsewhere. One day, she simply told Sam,“ I need my gym time to myself. I need to focus on my workout, not you. These 1.5 hours are wasted on you.”
Boredom is another killer in relationships and it creeps in without couples even realising it. A lot of couples stick to the beaten path once they are in a long term relationship and easily fall into a rut. They go to these same places again and again because they both know it and like it as it is comfortable. Also couples stop finding fun things to do together anymore. They end up doing the same old activities they are used to and the magic gets lost in the relationship. Imagine going to the same restaurant every week. Even if it is a Michelin star restaurant, it will start losing its appeal.
Sometimes spending too much time together can also lead to boredom. Even though you love your partner and want to spend every day with them, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort to peel yourselves apart and spend some time doing your own thing. When you spend a vast majority of the time with one person, it’s easy to get tired of being with them. If the relationship is stuck at a certain level, boredom does also creep in. When boredom sets in, silences aren’t golden anymore and you stop putting in an effort simply because you aren’t having fun in the relationship anymore.
Assuming things are going well is another sign of boredom. Long-term relationships take a lot of work. Couples often make the mistake of assuming that their relationship is going well and they can just cruise through it and it will keep going well. The truth is that all relationships take consistent work to remain vibrant and satisfying. you must make the health of your relationship a priority.
Also many people think arguing should be avoided whenever possible. Definitely fighting like cats and dogs will cause resentment but an occasion tiff or debate is healthy. Very often we try to make peace in the relationship to avoid conflict. Things look great on the surface but deep within the relationship there is a disconnection. It is healthy to agree to disagree – it shows you are connecting and how you feel in the relationship matters to you.
Sam and Katrina were in different states and the long distance made it hard to orchestrate meet ups. Initially they used to plot and plan but as boredom crept in, they stopped trying and the relationship couldn’t reach another level. They were bored of the phone calls and messages – there is only so much you can talk about your day to day activities. They had told each other everything about their lives and found themselves with no topics of conversations at times. Once Katrina asked Sam,“ Tell me about your day?” He quipped sarcastically while rolling his eyes,(obviously she couldn’t see it on the phone call)“Like every other day. Do you want to know how many gallons of water I drank together?” Katrina then stayed silent. The silences got longer and more deadly.
The third killer mistake in long term relationships is complacency. People mistake it as an indication of emotional safety with one another but the unfortunate reality is that complacency in a relationship is a long, slow, waltz into resentment. You get too comfortable around each other. You might think the goal of a healthy, long-term relationship is to become as comfortable as humanly possible, but remember allowing yourselves to get too comfy can lead to complacency. Whether we recognise it or not, we like to be challenged because we innately want to grow by design. It is in our genetic disposition to want to evolve and grow, which requires an environment that is challenging and not always too comfortable. So even though you might like the idea of doing the same thing every day and having a routine is definitely a benefit of being in a long term relationship shaking things up occasionally will add new elements and experiences to your lives.
Most couples get complacent and forget to flirt or try to surprise or impress their partners anymore. Many long-term couples forget that foreplay doesn’t just happen in the beginning of relationships when you are trying to attract your “prey” but should happen in every single moment of your interaction together. Also most couples use sex only as a means to an end. For many couples, sex becomes all about getting that orgasm. If sexual activity is fixated and dependent on orgasming only, boredom will definitely take over. You need to cultivate intimacy beyond the surface layers, so sex can remain a fun and fulfilling way to connect, long after the honeymoon stage of your relationship.
Another sign of complacency is when you completely lose respect and appreciation for your partner and are your worst self with him. This happens when you get too comfortable with each other and really test how far the relationship can be pushed. You disrespect his wishes or simply snub him when things go wrong simply because you are complacent and know he won’t leave. There is a loss of communication and you don’t even try to explain yourself to him when misunderstood – you just can’t be bothered.
Sam and Katrina’s relationship started showing signs of complacency too. In the early days even if they had 5 minutes, they were happy to chat with each other. They stopped making the effort and didn’t try to make each other feel special anymore. Katrina used to write long love letters to Sam which he used to wait for patiently and read and savour each word. The love notes started getting shorter and finally diminished. She felt “lazy” to write as her only audience was him and he stopped acknowledging and cherishing her love notes. He never wrote too, so she felt short changed and didn’t want to make the effort either.
These three killers make the relationships lose its steam and the relationship finally takes a plunge for the south. Like I said before, the missing element in long term relationships is fun, and this book is going to teach you how to put the spark, fun and excitement back into your relationship.