What’s love got to do with it? Well, when it comes to relationships, pretty much everything!
The inspiration for this post is from the work I do with the couples I see. One of the key factors to a relationship working, even after a number of set backs is the love that a couple feel for each other. Especially if they still feel “in love” with each other.
There, to me at least, is a difference from loving someone, and being “in love” with someone. We can love lots of people in our lives, family members, friends and our partner. However, from both clinical and personal experience, there’s a different feeling about the person you want to share you life romantically with. This feeling is what I, and often my clients, term being “in love”. That you don’t just care for this person and want to be happy for them, but you have a longing to be with them and to allow them fully into your life.
Often those I find that are scared to enter a romantic relationship are those that can’t quite allow themselves to let go and really fall in love. Often for fear of being hurt and being made vulnerable. This for them outweighs any perceived gain in wellbeing through the notion of loving and being loved. All I say to those people, and anyone who feels a kindred spirit reading this, is that just try! You can still be in control of you and your feelings. However, by letting yourself fall for someone else you stand to create a partnership that is greater than the sum of its parts. This is an almost magical experience. But, it does take work to maintain.
Here we come to perhaps the crux of this post, how do you maintain a romantic relationship? How do you remain “in love”? The good news, is it can be pretty simple. It hinges around communication and listening. If you and your partner can continue to talk and share where you’re both at, both good and bad (slightly arbitrary terms, but you get the idea), then you stand the best chance of having a long lasting, loving romantic relationship.
As time rolls on, it’s natural that you and your partner will develop as people, you might find new things that appeal or ways of thinking alter. Sadly, this can lead to couples coming apart, as this growth is taken as growing apart. But it needn’t. It’s perfectly possible to grow as individuals and as a couple, by working through and sharing what’s happening. However, silently getting on with things is often a recipe for issues. Parties in the couple will start to feel distant and perhaps alienated. Assumptions then creep in, and being “in love” slowly degrades into mere love and affection at best. At worst, couple lose the love they had for each other, pick up on their differences and pull themselves apart.
There are of course couples that genuinely just don’t work, no matter how much talking they manage. They come to realise their differences are just too great, and that they’re not suited to one another. That their relationship is perhaps a mess and a tangle of it’s parts, rather than as mentioned above, greater than the sum of it’s parts. If this is the case, then gently separate. Accept that as a romantic partnership it doesn’t work and hopefully remain amicable.
For those that do work as a romantic couple, then you need to accept there will be a level of work required to keep your relationship in top shape. This isn’t “hard” work, but “smart” work. Making sure your partner feels listened to, respected and very much loved. Make sure you keep doing things that invigorate your relationship. If you start to feel a “rut” explore it and figure out together how to alter that feeling, it will be possible. Keep making each other feel special and totally wanted. Taking someone for granted is a sure-fire way to create a relationship that doesn’t feel very special.
Finally, if you feel you can’t quite figure it out as a couple, then get someone like me involved as soon as you can. As the earlier you do it, the more it’ll just be a “nudge” in the right direction and feel less like a “fix”.
Bottom line, love each other and enjoy each other. Have fun!!