Things Were Great, So Why Did They Change?

Relationships are dynamic. Feelings of intimacy, closeness and satisfaction never stay exactly the same. The feelings you have for your partner today will change over time.

Our feelings change for many different reasons.

Relationships are typically easiest at the beginning—then things are new, exciting, and full of possibilities. At the start of any relationship, people are on their best behavior and partners not know each other very well. So, people see their partners in the best possible light and lovers have the tendency to fill in the “blanks” with positive information.

But, over time, the things that were once new and exciting have a tendency to become routine and boring. Possibilities turn into limitations. And as couples get to know each other better negative traits and characteristics begin surface. Added together, relationships often lose some of their luster (see myths about relationships and romantic attachments).

Not only do relationships become more routine and less exciting, but conflict becomes more common as couples get closer to each other. The problem isn’t so much that couples have disagreements, but the way in which couples approach conflict.

Many couples lack the basic communication skills necessary to talk about problems in ways that create trust, love and understanding (see talk about problems).

In many cases, conflicts, which are poorly resolved, can gradually pull couples further apart (for help with this issue, see the Gottman Institute).

Finally, changes in the social environment can also impact how our relationships work. If a spouse or partner takes a new job, goes back to school, joins a new social group, starts going to the gym, or whatever, partners have the opportunity to meet new people.

Unfortunately, new people often seem more exciting because they are compared against familiar routines. It may help to keep in mind, that a new and exciting possibility, will also eventually become routine.

But many people do not realize this. So, every time your spouse or partner enters a new social environment there is always the risk that they might meet someone who they are more attracted too, someone who they have more feelings for, someone who they connect with better, and so on. And meeting new people can make familiar routines seem even less appealing.

The key to making a relationship work, is to keep it novel and exciting by doing enjoyable activities together as a couple, so that other people seem routine and boring (see Aron & Aron).

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