As a society, we expect to fall madly in love and be in a successful relationship. We want to hear trumpets and whistles, we want to feel butterflies in our stomach and hear birds singing in our souls. This is how we will know if someone is "the one." This is how we will know if we have met Mr. or Ms. Right. Hollywood movies perpetuate this experience of true love and romance.
I always preach that we have to make more conscious choices when it comes to relationships and marriage. We have to address things like monogamy and other long-term and short-term goals ongoing. We have to have discussions, as difficult as they may be about our needs and recognize that we change and grow even after we've gotten married and committed ourselves to one person for the rest of our lives. I am always talking about how to make relationships work, through communication, how to come back from broken agreements and breach of trust, how important it is to know our wants and our needs and to be able to communicate it, how to maintain attractiveness to our partners.
I've come up with a short list of things you can do, which I believe, can help you stay in love longer and extend the lifetime of your bliss.
1. Slow down. Go slow. We are always in such a hurry to control the outcome when it comes to the object of our desires, whether it be sex, going steady, saying "I love you," moving in together, marriage, babies, or whatever it is, we are so eager to get to the next step that we often lose sight of ourselves in the process. We lose touch with our friends, we lose touch with our work, family, interests and hobbies. So, slow it down. Let things unravel in their own time. If a relationship takes one year or five years to materialize, so be it. What is the rush? (*Note: If you are in a rush for something such as a biological clock or other arbitrary societal measure, then you are more likely to run into some of the problems I mentioned earlier).
2. Speak up for your needs. So this is key because this will set the tone for the relationship for years and years to come. This means saying you need a night off, or a few days off, even to take care of yourself. Whether it be just having alone time, keeping up with your work, your friends, your family or your hobbies, speak up for it. Even if you think you don’t want it or need it. Don’t neglect yourself for the sake of the relationship, for the sake of love.
3. Don’t forget your friends. Don’t forget your family. Don’t forget your work. Don’t forget your hobbies. In the early days of blissful lust and romance, it’s easy to become all consumed by your new lover. It may seem like a wonderful idea to spend every waking moment with them and neglect all the things you used to do. So even if you'd rather spend the evening basking in your love glow, accept that invitation to go to a concert with a friend, go to that party with your pals and leave the newfound lover to his/her own devices. Do some extra work at work, like you used to. Keep your Saturday surfing plans with your surfing group. Just because you are now blissfully in love, does not mean you two are joint at the hip. Keeping up with you is going to be key.
4. Spend time alone. Go to the gym alone. Go to the movies alone. Do all the things you did as a single person, not always like before, but once in a while. Don’t invite your new lover to do everything with you. I know you didn't like doing it alone before, but guess what; this alone time is key to understanding yourself, nourishing yourself and setting the tone for long term healthy relationship patterns into the future.
5. Learn to say no. Learn to say no now. If you're partner is the one always inviting you along, or wanting to tag along, say no. Even if you think you want them to join you, or even if you just don’t mind. Getting into a bad habit of saying yes, is akin to neglecting your needs. It might seem like a small thing now, but in the long run, it will help to maintain your independence and autonomy within a connected relationship. In the end, we need to be connected to our partners while also maintaining our selves. In the end, if one plus one equals two, that is better than two halves equaling one.
Maintaining your autonomy and independence will not only empower you as an individual by keeping you strong and maintaining your identity, it can also keep the passion, intimacy and attraction alive for years to come.
Moushumi Ghose is a Sex Therapist based in Los Angeles and New York City and provides coaching and consulting to clients worldwide.