After moving in with her boyfriend Eric one year ago, following their college graduation, Emily, who is 25 years-old and working as a film editor's assistant, plopped herself down on my couch and complained of boredom. She wondered if she was in the wrong relationship because she didn't feel that spark of excitement anymore when she saw Eric after work.
She also felt taken for granted because he didn't leave her small notes anymore on the pillow or on her desk telling her he loved her or planning unexpected weekends away. "It sounds like you are really craving more connection," I told her. "But I'm also wondering when the last time was that you took the initiative to plan a surprise romantic weekend away somewhere? Or the last time you left him a love note on his pillow?" Why To Consider Couples Therapy Before Breaking Up
Emily shrugged. "I can't even remember. Why bother if he isn't doing it anymore either?" "Now there is a great way to run a relationship." I said, smiling teasingly. "Perhaps you should each have a pair of measuring spoons and always wait to dole out a little bit of love at a time depending on how much you're getting back. A teaspoon for a teaspoon?"
"What do you feel at the end of the day when you see him?" I asked her. "Tired," responded Emily. “Tired of the same conversations, tired of doing the same things. I feel like we know everything there is already to know about each other and we've only been together two years.”
“Do you ever share these thoughts and feelings with him?” I asked. "I shouldn't have to," she replied. "When you love someone, they should just know." Perhaps looking for commiseration, she added, "Well, shouldn't they?" "Are you really asking me?" I asked, "Or are you just looking for someone to agree with you?"
As a therapist, I always find this fertile ground. Often, when people feel bored in their relationship, I find at least one of the following patterns I'll describe below happening. If one is willing to really explore and own the deeper truth underneath the feelings of boredom, one can usually reconnect to a sense of aliveness again and the relationship can take on new life and possibilities. However, if you place all the responsibility on your partner for the static state of things, nothing will change. And nothing sounds more boring than that!
So, if you find yourself feeling like Emily in your own relationship, here are three tips to consider that can make a real difference:
1. Stop complaining. If you want things to be different, you have to actually do something different. Complaining to friends or your partner about the same things is likely making you a bore and even more bored.
If you feel like Emily in your own relationship, make a short list of the top things that you need to be different in order for this relationship to feel healthy again. Share these respectfully and calmly with your signiifcant other. Don't place the blame nor all the responsibility on his or her shoulders.
If you want a more romantic relationship, first try becoming a more romantic partner. Start by modeling the change you long for.
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