It is often said that when you find someone that you really click well with, you’ll have the “honeymoon” period, when you’re in love and feel this deep desire – and then, after a while, it all fades out, and you’re no longer passionately in love.
There is some truth to this. But why is it so?
Once you are with somebody for a while, you get to know each other well. You become friends… and things become more predictable, which is not a bad thing; in fact, often this is what we’re striving for. But then a paradox happens: the more stable and well-adjusted the relationship becomes, the more certain things get, and the less one feels those “sparks” that used to be there. This is especially true when things outside the relationship are also stable – then there is no place to balance out all the stability with a little intrigue.
What drives chemistry?
Strong emotions tend to happen when we feel uncertain or unsafe. Those emotions that feel like they take you over and can even make it hard for you to think rationally, you know? “New relationship energy,” as it is often called, carries a good deal of this uncertainty. Our minds become stimulated, our intellect intrigued, and our hearts flutter with excitement. The lack of certainty, combined with mutual desire, drives these feelings.
There is uncertainty that can be quite harmful – like being unsure that you can trust somebody because they have violated your trust before. Or feeling unsafe, like you can’t relax because you might be attacked. Some people even react positively sometimes to threatening uncertainty – temporarily. But it’s not healthy to be attracted to purely threatening situations. There needs to be a truly positive side to the uncertainty for it to have a therapeutic effect.
The key to “good uncertainty,” and thus relationship chemistry, is to allow yourself to be challenged to experience new emotions and go places that you haven’t been before, not knowing exactly what will happen next – but always in a relatively safe context. When you’re getting into a new relationship, this is what is happening; your lack of full, deep knowledge of the other person combined with your feelings of relative safety drive your passion. You experience high levels of desire. And desire is the #1 motivator of awesome chemistry (more on that here).
This lovely feeling does not have to end forever once you and a partner have been together for a while. It is true that such passionate feelings will change and shift, and sometimes you will feel them a lot more than others. You won’t always be in love. But who says that after you stop feeling “in love,” you shall never feel “in love” at any point in the future again? That’s a pretty gloomy outlook!
When people take it as normal that a relationship simply loses its passion after a while, this can actually encourage things like resentment, cheating, game-playing, regret, envy of what you don’t have, and so on – because there is no place to consciously explore the unknown. While there are those of us who are content without much great variation in their lives, the rest of us are naturally going to feel like we’re missing out on something.
The need for uncertainty can be balanced out in many ways. The most healthy ways are those in which both individuals consciously agree to test how deep the certainty of the relationship goes:
- Embarking on a difficult project together.
- Spending some time apart.
- Talking about things that are not easy to talk about (past trauma, unresolved issues, things that “feel weird” to talk about).
- Breaking routine (things like going on a vacation help with this).
What if the relationship doesn’t hold?
There are times when fiddling with a relationship like this will only cause the relationship to get more distant. If that is the case, don’t fight it. Keep your communication open, even as you grow apart. Besides, if you are growing apart, perhaps it is a blessing that this happens sooner rather than later, so that you aren’t wasting any more time. Even if you do decide to keep the relationship going in a “reduced” state, you at least have a way of setting clear boundaries and negotiating room for each other’s needs.
Unfortunately, sometimes one person in a relationship drifts away and moves on, while the other person clings to things as they have been, hoping that they won’t change. The thing is, the whole concept of being alive – of feeling alive – involves change. The concept of uncertainty being healthy for the spirit in safe doses doesn’t just apply to a relationship in progress – it also applies to life after and outside of a relationship.
We humans tend to regard change, when it is sharper than we expect, to be harmful. But this is kind of like saying that water is harmful, because sometimes you can drown in it, or the sun is harmful because you can get burned or overheated in it. We as human beings know that sun and water can change, and we adapt to it all and prepare ourselves mentally for such changes. We need to do this in the other spheres of our lives also, including in relationships… because like it or not, uncertainty and change are part of the deal.
Balance uncertainty well in a relationship while never compromising mutual trust and honesty; though there will be times you will feel pain and disappointment, chemistry will hardly ever be a problem :-)