Many gay men in both short and long-term relationships report concern when the romance and passion in their partnerships decline or "dry up", leading them to question themselves and fear for the future of their relationships. An unfortunate consequence of this is that many men break up with their partners prematurely at this point, have affairs, or turn to some form of addiction to cope under the mistaken notion that something is defective or wrong in their relationships. This article is the first in a two-part series and will describe how this phenomenon is a normal occurrence in healthy relationship development and how you can assess your own "relationship red flags" that could reinforce a passionless relationship with your boyfriend or partner.
WHAT IS PASSION DROUGHT?
"There's no more passion or excitement in our relationship. It used to be so hot, but now it's distant and empty. I feel like we're drifting apart." "I'm so bored in this relationship. We do the same things all the time and it's gotten so mundane and stale." These are but a couple of examples of passion drought, that time in your relationship when the chemistry and intrigue between you and your partner diminishes and more effort is required to sustain the "heat" that initially drew you to each other. But as you will see, this is a normal and expected part of all intimate relationships; it's not necessarily a warning sign that something's wrong as it is more about the fact that you're experiencing a "growth spurt" in a relationship that is maturing.
In their book "The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop" (1984), D.P. McWhirter and A.M. Mattison pioneered a model on gay couple development that conceptualized six stages that gay couples can progress through as their relationships mature and grow. The first two stages are pertinent in explaining the decline of passion that occurs, a phenomenon called limerence they cite.
Stage 1 is called "Blending", also known as the honeymoon phase. This is the period of time in which you first meet each other and begin a dating relationship. Romance and that "high" of exhilaration and euphoria are at their peak during this phase, which typically lasts about a year. You and your partner think about each other constantly, can't wait to see and spend time with each other, and have lots of energy for shared activities and sex.