To have a fulfilling relationship, you have to learn to speak your truth and become the best person you can be without living in fear of your partner’s reaction. In a reciprocal loving relationship, each partner’s joy and accomplishments should, by love’s definition, make the other happy.
It is important to be considerate of your partner. However, diminishing yourself to cater to your partner’s weaknesses does neither you nor your partner any justice.
The moment you play into the fear that your partner will feel inadequate when you shine, you start down the path of undermining your joy and capabilities in a futile attempt to pander to your partner’s fears. Such pandering will only enhance your partner’s anxieties by accommodating them, and will eventually breed resentment in the both of you.
Dependence and predictability
All relationships involve some dependence. As dependence increases, partners fear that change might destabilize the relationship’s security. When people become highly dependent on their partners, they tend to limit intimacy and spontaneity. They try to accommodate the fear of their partner by maintaining the comfort of the status quo.
Yet, the status quo becomes increasingly tedious and tiresome over time. Predictability leads to taking your partner for granted. When partners take each other for granted, romantic desire fades to extinction.
Desire requires tolerating anxiety
It takes courage to grow and change in a long-term relationship. Specifically, you have to deal with the deep-rooted, subtle fear of being rejected or humiliated when stepping out of the confines of your comfort zone.
Desire requires appreciation for the partner AND the ability to withstand the tension in continuing to grow and flourish. People who tolerate little anxiety have a small window through which to experience desire. Routine and predictability become ways of avoiding anxiety. Unfortunately, they also become ways of stifling vitality, excitement, and desire.
Uncertainty and novelty
A healthy level of anxiety enhances desire by increasing receptivity, awareness, and focus. Notice how you are more alive and alert when you travel to exotic places. The new smells, sights and experiences enhance a traveler’s awareness. Uncertainty and novelty cause low-level anxiety, which increases anticipation and exhilaration.
You don’t have to travel to enhance the awareness and excitement in your relationship. Yet, you need to engage your creativity and change what you do on occasion. For example, make a special meal, have a picnic in a new place, invite different friends over for dinner, try a new sport or hobby, take classes on your own, plan a trip, or take dance classes. It doesn’t matter if any of these unfamiliar events turn into a disaster. You will feel alive, and you will have something to talk and laugh about.
You simply have to have the courage to risk following your own dreams, as well as doing new things together and with others. It helps if you can do so with an irresistible sense of adventure, humor, and delight.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD
Read “Positive Bonding Patterns: ‘We never fight, but we don’t talk anymore and there’s no more passion.’”
Read “Our relationship is such hard work. The spark is gone.”
Read “I’m always walking on eggshells. I don’t want to upset my partner.”