The first date that turns into a second date that eventually turns into a relationship is often filled with excitement. But somewhere down the road you find yourself carrying out the same routine with your partner day in and day out, and begin to wonder if perhaps this boredom you're experiencing is bad.
Before you break up with your partner due to the fear of the pitfalls of settling, you might want to know that psychologists consider this disinterest to actually be a positive threat in new relationships. It's called "the Wave of Distancing," and apparently it's totally normal.
The stages of love play an important role in helping you to appreciate the changes.
You first interact at a club, or perhaps on an app. When you do so, typically a lot of lust is involved, including testosterone in both men and women according to Andre Moore, LCSW, who is a marriage and couples counselor.
And if all goes well, dates continue to occur, and soon that physical attraction has turned into romance. This infatuation is the result of the brain's reward chemicals, dopamine and norepinephrine.
Irina Firstein, LCSW, a couples therapist, says that this "honeymoon" stage filled with love can last up to two years. It's during this time that everything with your partner just feels right.
Firstein notes that this stage is followed by the post-infatuation period, which is when you start to see things much clearer; assessing what actually works and what doesn't. Then, according to Moore, that romance turns into attachment, in which the "cuddle chemicals" oxytocin and vasopressin take place.
Being domestic is a beautiful thing all on its own, but before you can find that place where you realize you don't need to say anything, the infatuation has to disappear, according to Ken Page, LCSW, a psychotherapist and author of "Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy."
"When we see that the other person really cares and means it and plans to stick around, then the Wave of Disinterest can come up," Page says. During this time you might start to question yourself, even wondering if perhaps you could be doing much better.
This is the result of being addicted to the chase, says Firstein. And the more self-doubt you have, the more likely you are to experience the Wave. When someone proves to be consistent, decent and seems like they'll be around for a while, a person tends to self-sabotage out of pure fear that it's too good to be true.
So how do we steer clear of ruining a good thing? Page says the best thing to do is ride it out. Don't make yourself try to act more intimate, but be aware of how you're feeling and understand that it will likely pass.
The Wave typically only lasts a few weeks. And when you come back feeling clearer, typically your intimacy will only heighten.
The Wave isn't supposed to last forever, but if the feeling isn't going away, something's up. "Stability is something we all crave: We want to know that we have somebody that has our back, that when we come home there's somebody there," explains Firstein. "Stagnation, on the other hand, comes from the sense of taking something for granted."
If you're becoming bored, but not putting in the effort, you are experiencing stagnation, which is a red flag to be mindful of. And if you try to communicate with your partner and all they do is turn a cheek, refusing to listen, getting defensive and withdrawing emotionally, things might be more serious and require deeper work than simply riding it out.
Do you know the difference between the Wave and stagnation? How have you dealt with either in your own relationship?
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