My man and I have been together for almost 4 years. We long ago crossed the boyfriend/girlfriend/dating stage and are long term partners. Lately I’ve been feeling the magic is gone…it feels less connected, less attracted, less exciting.
Do you think this is just part if normal settling in; a shifting in dynamic that is inevitable? Or a sign that its not working out?
I don’t feel like its unsalvageable, but it would take a lot of work. Some people say that relationships do take that kind of work, but you have to choose to do it. On the other hand maybe it shouldn’t be so hard and there is a better connection out there for both of us…..thoughts?
–Magician's Assistant ( ♀ Kelowna)
I believe that a truly fulfilling relationship has two parts: connection and polarity. I have seen couples and individuals who have an easier time with one or the other, but rarely both. So, I think that a relationship can be both easy, and take hard work at the same time. In other words, I think that the amount of work your relationship takes, and how easy your love is exist completely independent of one another.
Let’s define connection and polarity before we go any further. Connection is your friendship – whether your values, views, hopes and dreams match or can be understood and supported by the other person. Polarity is the romantic attraction to each other – both physically and spiritually, in other words, whether his sort of masculine essence allows you to relax and deepen into your feminine, and whether your sort feminine essence inspires him to live at and push the edge of opening you and the world before him.
To answer your question, for many long term relationships the connection grows and the polarity naturally wains, leaving the couple feeling more like best buds than passionate lovers. This is confusing, and often leads to a break up. I do think that for most couples, this is part of settling in. But, I also see that the difference between relationships that last and relationships that don’t, is whether the couple can recognize and do work that needs to be done to keep the connection and polarity alive and healthy.
The way you describe your relationship as feeling ‘less connected, less attracted, less exciting’ sounds as though your polarity has wained, but I am also curious if you are feeling that your values, views, hopes and dreams no longer match or are supported by each other in the same way as they once were? If this is the case, you do have a lot of work ahead of you, but it can certainly be done if both of you are committed to doing it. I’ll give you a couple of examples and some resources for starting the work on your own, but I recommend, especially after 4 years of old habits and patterns, finding someone you trust to guide and see you through this more challenging patch.
To improve your connection, you want to bring yourselves closer together. Physical contact is a great way to get the hormone that create desire to be close (oxytocin) flowing. If you simply touch each other, a light caress here, a hand on the back there, brushing arms during dinner, resting your feet on each other while reading, you will naturally feel more and more drawn to be close. Also, connection comes from understanding. For next while, avoid convincing each other of your view and instead, try and see, as clearly as possible, how the other person sees the world. Remember that you don’t have to have exactly the same way of looking at the world to understand and support each other. When you seek to understand someone else, it is much easier to admire them than if you spend your time judging their views as less valid than your own. Oh. And of course avoid spending time together where you are on the computer or phone or engaged in other activities; do those things on your own and make your time together intentional.
To improve your polarity, you want to make space between you (seems like the opposite of connection, doesn’t it!). Begin by re-establishing your life outside of the relationship. You should spend time engaging in your hobbies, work and time with your women friends apart from him. He should have his own life too – work, separate friend and whatever he does to deepen his purpose. You want to make sure that you have new, outside experiences to bring into the relationship so that you can each see the other as a full individual, rather than just the person in the other half of the bed or the person you have to negotiate daily tasks with. Connection and polarity are best worked on in tandem as they complement each other; without both, it’s not a romantic relationship.
If you are interested in doing polarity work on your own, both David Deida and Michaela Boehm (online workshops at the bottom) are fantastic resources or books, online courses & youtube lectures. You might find The Conscious Heart by Kathlyn & Gay Hendricks a useful book to help you re-find your connection.
As you two explore where the short circuit is in the relationship, however you might find some unexpected things. Maybe one or both of you doesn’t really want to put the time into creating a healthier relationship. Or maybe you will find that the values, ideas, hopes and dreams upon which you built your connection on have changed or shifted so much that you can’t see eye to eye. There are a million ends to any given love story, but if it isn’t working out, it doesn’t mean that the relationship is bad, it just might mean that your growth together as a couple is complete. The relationship has served you… sort of like a bus; you know when you’ve passed your stop and it’s time to get off.
The suggestion I would make is that you start by figuring out if you are both equally willing to do the work to cultivate the connection & polarity of the relationship. Then, as I mentioned earlier, at four years without having done any intentional work before, it’s not a bad idea to do a couples retreat or even some couples counseling or coaching. It’s easier sometimes to get reacquainted in a setting that provides external support for the work you have to do and we can all do with someone else pointing out the blind spots. There is a stigma around asking for help in a relationship, but people who have ventured out to ask always say it was worth it in the end.
I wish you both the courage to make this leap. If working on your relationship is indeed what you both need and want, you won’t regret it!