Jay and Kieran were having a chilled evening together when Jay cracked a joke.
It was an innocent, playful gesture, but Kieran just grunted.
At the beginning of their relationship, Jay’s sense of humor was the glue that bound them together.
He used to have Kieran in stitches all evening — not anymore.
The couple recently took our Communication Style Quiz to try and find out how they could reignite that spark.
Do you feel like you and your partner are stuck in a rut? Are you tired of the usual routine?
The Secret to Keeping the Honeymoon Phase Going
We’ve all experienced that plateau.
The characteristics in your partner that used to excite you just don’t anymore — maybe they’re even starting to get on your nerves.
It is perfectly normal for a relationship to become routine.
After the initial infatuation, the flame fizzles out. Before you know it, you’re wearing each other’s clothes and heading to bed at 9pm.
Scientifically, the honeymoon high is fueled by high dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with reward and motivation.
The body can’t release these elevated levels of dopamine for more than a short time, so the excitement dwindles naturally.
Research supported by the Gay Couples Institute found that new relationships have positive and negative interactions at a ratio of 20:1.
After a while, this ratio decreases to 5:1.
That explains why Kieran used to think Jay’s antics were hilarious — and why he has started to find them irritating.
This shift occurs once you’ve developed a routine and are both comfortable in the relationship. In a way, it means a little bit of negativity in a relationship is healthy.
We have worked with thousands of successful, long-term couples. In all these relationships, some who have been together for decades, partners listen to each other — even the boring stuff.
So, can you get those butterflies back?
And if so, how?
How to Bring Back the Fun
At the beginning of a new relationship, everything your partner does is fascinating. Stamp-collecting, fly-fishing, train-spotting — it’s all thrilling.
Don’t you wish you could turn the clock back to that time?
To go back to the steamy conversations that ignited many a night of fun?
In the beginning, sexual tension contributed to the honeymoon high, and the activities you shared with your partner laid a foundation of curiosity and fondness.
If you and your partner are not connecting outside the bedroom, the fireworks have probably died down between the sheets too.
Like Jay and Kieran, many couples get into a routine where they find themselves emotionally disengaged.
You’re still in love, but you begin to take each other for granted.
While Jay is funny, he is also an aspiring amateur pilot taking flying lessons for fun.
Kieran finds it fascinating when Jay tells him about the plane and where they could travel someday.
Kieran loves fashion. He is always in the know about the latest clothing trends.
For these two, fashion and travel are perfect subjects to bond over.
The problem is that their relationship is on autopilot, so to speak.
Things are getting routine.
What to Do When Your Priorities Differ
What happens when you and your partner go in different directions?
Perhaps they cannot get invested in the conversations you want to have.
People have different patterns through which they approach the world and evaluate the quality of their connection to those around them.
We find everyone has one of four preferred communication styles.
- The Sensualist looks upon the world from a physical and sexual perspective.
- For the Guardian, it’s all about the quality of the bond, connection, and trust they share with the people in their lives.
- The Referee values productive conflict and is passionate about fairness.
- Finally, the Connector is highly aware of their needs and the needs of others.
These communication styles can complement each other in relationships, but they can also be destructive if each partner doesn’t fully understand the other.
A Sensualist may feel their partner does not express enough physical desire, while a Guardian who has misgivings about their partner might shut down emotionally.
Understanding each other’s communication style can teach both of you how to approach these things differently.
How to Turn Things Around
If you feel like your relationship is flatlining, it is possible to turn things around.
- Look out for your partner’s bids for attention.
Each communication style has a unique way of commanding attention.
- Put your phone down, turn off the TV, and connect with your partner.
Your relationship shouldn’t have to compete with that stuff.
- Try to steer away from frivolous chats and move toward more meaningful conversations.
Use the magic words, “Tell me more about that,” to get your partner to elaborate on their perspective.
People love to talk about themselves and giving your partner your time and attention will bring you closer to each other.
Take our Communication Style Quiz to find out more about yourself and your partner. Discover how you can grow closer and keep the flame alive.
ABOUT SAM GARANZINI, LMFT, LPCC, and ALAPAKI YEE, LMFT
Sam Garanzini and Alapaki Yee are Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapists and the co-founders of the Gay Couples Institute – the world’s only gay and lesbian couples counseling clinic. The Gay Couples Institute has locations in Northern California and Manhattan, as well as online counseling services available.
For more information about how the Gay Couples Institute can help you, please visit: www.gaycouplesinstitute.org