How You Caught Her Is How You Keep Her
Part of the fun of a new relationship is how good it feels when you make her happy. The compliments. The flirty banter. The little gestures, like sending flowers to her at work just because you thought she might like ’em. It’s all a part of the charm and thoughtfulness that showed her what an incredible guy you can be.
I’m sure you see where this is going, right?
As with the examples above, it’s difficult to sustain that level of involvement for extended periods of time. It’s easier in the beginning. Before the two of you have hooked up, you had a concrete goal: convincing her to be your girlfriend. In the aftermath of getting together, you’re suffused with the glow of success and the thrill of how wonderful everything is. But just as with all good things, the rush tapers off and the new becomes the comfortable and familiar… even the expected.
It’s not that you care for her any less… it’s that you don’t have that immediate driving need to show her. You know she cares for you. She knows you care for her. It’s ok if maybe you aren’t quite as charming as you used to be when you first started dating, is it? Maybe those compliments are coming fewer and farther between… and maybe they don’t have quite the same snap they used to. Maybe you’ve moved from joking about crazy hot sex to the size of her butt in those jeans. She understands. It’s not really a problem, right?
Well… not really. Yeah, she may know intellectually that you care, but that doesn’t mean that that she doesn’t want to feel it. It’s surprisingly easy to make someone feel neglected, even taken for granted… and it’s even easier to make them feel better. You don’t have to go all the way back to the way you were when you first started dating, but little romantic gestures and signs of caring will pay off in big ways. Tiny surprises and signs of consideration – picking up a bag of her favorite coffee just because, a little handwritten note at her place before you leave saying that you’re thinking of her, even a sincere and unexpected compliment at the right time will remind her of all the things she likes about you. Show you pay attention and care even about the little things and she’ll realize how you feel about the big things… namely you and her.
The Sex Fades. Don’t Panic.
When you first got together, you couldn’t keep your hands off each other. You end up screwing on or against every vaguely flat surface in your apartment, and you would’ve made bigger inroads in hers if her roommate hadn’t been home so often. Hell, there were dates, movies and dinner reservations that you missed out on because the two of you never made it through the front door. You burned through an industrial size box of condoms in the span of two weeks.
Then… well, you can’t quite put your finger on when or how, but things started to taper off. You may have been bangin’ out every day and twice on Sundays, but then it turned to three times a week. Then two. Then once every two weeks. Now… shit, when was the last time the two of you went at it? Once a month? Maybe?
But… that must mean something’s wrong with your relationship, right? Oh God, you’re not a couple any more, you’re roommates! Quick, quick, must initiate sex now!
After the dishes. And c’mon, you don’t want to miss Walking Dead again. And you gotta get up stupid early tomorrow so you can get to that staff meeting and….
I’ve said it before but the half life of romantic love and passion is approximately six months to a year. No matter how passionate and sexual you are at the beginning, it will taper off. It’s part of every relationship. As that wild passion fades, it’s making way for a quieter – but deeper – level of companionship and intimacy that’s just as critical for a successful relationship as sexual compatibility is. You may not be burning up the sheets the way you used to, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your relationship, nor that you’re not as in love as you were at first.
This, by the way, is part of the reason why monogamy is so difficult. Just because the passion between a couple fades doesn’t mean that your desire for sex – or for novelty – does as well. We get addicted to the rush of oxytocin that comes with a new relationship; when you feel that first spark of a crush on that woman at the office or the attraction to the hardbody at the gym who’s always on the bike in front of you in the spinning class, that rush comes screaming back. It can be intoxicating. But that rush ultimately says nothing about how you feel about your significant other… it’s just a reminder of how things were in the beginning and how easy it is to mistake infatuation – or lust, for that matter – for love.
Like every other aspect of a relationship, this is an area that requires some attention and initiative. Just as you can end up in a rut in your day to day lives, you can end up in one sexually. If sex is nothing more than “head to the bedroom, a little foreplay, oral for him, oral for her, 15-20 minutes of missionary aaaaaaand scene!”, it can – as hard as it can be to believe – get pretty boring. Shaking it up a little – moving it out of your bedroom, exploring fantasies the two of you have, even if it’s just talking about them… can re-ignite the flame.
And don’t think that the sexual attraction is gone forever. It ebbs and flows in any long-term relationship. There will be long dry-spells where the two of you may well be platonic roommates. Then, just as suddenly, you will find yourselves getting as hot and heavy as you were in the beginning, screwing like you’re a couple of teenagers in the throws of their first relationship again.
Sometimes you just need to ride it out.
Being Correct Doesn’t Mean That You Are Right
You’re going to fight. There’s no getting around this. This is to be expected.
It may be a full-on knock-down, drag-out, screaming at each other at the top of your lungs brawl. It may involve one of you talking angrily while the other sits in sullen silence. It may be a serious discussion about issues that doesn’t get over the volume of a normal conversation… but the tone of your voices could turn water to ice at 50 paces. It may even be as subtle as one of you passively aggressively agreeing to whatever the other says, knowing that you won’t do it, but being willing to say anything to get them to just shut up already.
Fighting – or the lack of it – isn’t a barometer to how healthy a relationship is.
Fighting when you don’t need to, on the other hand, is counter-productive.
One of the more famous sayings about men and women is that men are intellectual while women are emotional. This may not be strictly accurate, but it does illustrate a tendency in guys to believe that being correct means that you are in fact, in the right.
In fact, this is one of the reasons why arguing between couples is so often counter-productive. Guys will frequently argue logic while women are arguing emotion and end up driving each other crazy. While she is arguing about how she feels, say, about your never lifting a hand to do anything around the house, you’re arguing about all the things you do do for the house – paying bills, arranging for all the repairs, keeping everything in working order and that this effectively balances out the scales. And yet, this does nothing to resolve the fight between the two of you.
And therein lies the problem… you may be correct, but that doesn’t mean that you’re actually right.
Y’see, when guys try to logic an argument, they feel that they’re showing that they haven’t done whatever thing it is their girlfriend is accusing them of having done. To women, however, this sounds like “You have no right to feel the way you do and you’re stupid for doing so.” Thus she feels put on the defensive and has to unfairly justify why she feels the way she does, which only makes her angrier, and so the cycle continues.
Same argument, two completely different messages being taken from it. It’s one of those moments where you need to take a step back and ask whether it’s worth “winning” the argument… or whether it’s better to back down in the name of relationship harmony. Yes, you may have a point… taken from a strictly cost-effort-benefit standpoint, you may be entirely correct and your actions completely balance out hers. However, when the cost of being correct is paid in tears, anger, resentment and frustration, it’s better for the relationship as a whole that you back down, get off your ass and help out more around the house.
Part of maintaining a healthy relationship is knowing that sometimes there are some fights that aren’t worth having, even when you know down to the depths of your soul that you’re correct. Being correct may make you feel superior… but you better hope that this makes you feel better when she’s packing her bags and heading out the door.