What Do You Do When The Romance Dies? We Asked The Pros
In a new AskMen series, Relationship Firsts, we ask experts various questions that inevitably come up at some point in relationships. From introducing a sex toy to what to do when your sex life dwindles, we’re covering the gamut of whatever you’re too embarrassed to ask (or admit to) your mates.
It’s no fun thing to admit, but the romantic love stage of a relationship isn’t meant to last. Actually, according to Harville Hendrix, Ph.D, there are three phases of relationships: the Ideal, the Ordeal, and the Real Deal. When we fall in love (the first stage) our brain becomes flooded with the neurochemical phenylethylamine, which increase our positive outlook, diminish pain, and cause us to feel safe and calm. They help motivate us to make the commitment to a relationship. So that first stage is all well and good – but what happens when it ends?
We asked the experts what to do when you feel like the romance has died.
Remember The ‘D’ Word
Alain de Botton, author and philosopher
The paradox of marriage is that when we love someone very much, the thought that they might leave us inspires us to sign up for a life-long ‘lock’. But once the ‘lock’ is in place, the fear of loss decreases to such an extent that we start to abandon any of the normal precautions necessary to inspire someone to want to stay with us. The cure is – in a sense – to realise that marriage guarantees nothing. We should use the fear of divorce as an ongoing defence against complacency; not because we want to divorce but because a vivid impression of the partner’s freedom wards off fateful dangers of complacency.
de Botton’s newest book is The Course of Love
Dr. Dain Heer, relationship consultant and international speaker
Romance dies as a result of judgment. What you want to do is write down all of your judgments of your partner and ask yourself ‘will you let these go?’ Maybe burn the list or destroy it, and then put your arm around your partner and tell them how grateful you are for them. You do this every single day and start expressing your gratitude for her, to her, out loud and mean it. Then find 3 things you are grateful for her on a daily basis and tell her every single day. As your gratitude for her grows so will your lust.
Heer is the co-creator of Access Consciousness
Keep Your Expectations In Check
Juliet Grayson, relationship counsellorâ and author
The romance will die; it’s natural. Harville Hendrix talks about the ‘ideal’, the ‘ordeal’ and the ‘real deal’. Ideal is the romantic phase, the ordeal is the next phase where you get into the power struggle and the real deal is what you reach if you’re lucky after that. Although we don’t stay in the real deal, we cycle round and round the ordeal and the ideal for the rest of our relationship.
I always say: Don’t do anything in the first 30 days that you won’t be willing to do in the first 30 years. If you start a relationship on unrealistic expectations of how you’re going to be, then you’re going to be a disappointment to your partner once they start a long term relationship with you. So it’s better to set realistic expectations in terms of how attentive you are (and even how much money you’re going to spend on them, trips promised, etc) from the beginning.
Grayson is the author of Landscapes of the Heart: The Working World of a Sex and Relationship Therapist
Do The Little Things (Again)
Jo Usmar, wellbeing writer
This [a complaint that the romance has died] is usually code for ‘I feel like you’re taking me for granted’. We all take our partners for granted occasionally, but it can make people feel resentful and sad. The good news is it takes very little effort to turn things around and show your appreciation. It’s the little things that count, not the grand sweeping gestures. Bring them tea in bed, be sympathetic when they’ve got a hangover, make them dinner, bring them flowers for no reason, buy them that thing they admired when they didn’t think you’d been paying attention, pick them up from work, run them a bath, make sure you say thank you when they do anything for you no matter how small. It’s amazing the arguments and stress we’d all avoid just by showing a little appreciation.
Usmar is the co-author of This Book Will Make You Calm, out now (Quercus).