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5 Reasons You May Be Feeling Relationship Boredom

What research can teach us about why this happens and how to change it.

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Do you remember when you first got that job offer or moved into your new place and felt on top of the world? Although these exciting changes can often contribute to a short-term burst of happiness, they seem to lose their appeal after some time has passed.

A similar phenomenon can occur in relationships. When a relationship passes the honeymoon period, the initial excitement you felt may subside. No relationship is immune to this. As a result, feelings of boredom may arise at some point, but many people erroneously assume these feelings mean they are not meant to be with their partner. The reality is that it’s not unusual for relationships to go through phases in which one or both partners feel bored.

Following are some common reasons this happens and some ways you can work on it together:

1. The brain’s natural habituation process. Our brains are hardwired to become adapted to exciting changes that occur throughout life, with research demonstrating that people’s happiness levels usually go back to baseline after some time has passed since the change occurred. What this means is that we are prone to taking pretty much everything in our lives for granted, including our relationships.

If you notice yourself taking your relationship for granted, it can help to write about how your life would be different if you had never met your partner, how another person who doesn’t have romantic love in their lives might perceive your relationship, and the reasons you are grateful for your relationship. When people feel bored in their relationship, they may have a tendency to take it for granted and overlook the positive aspects of their partner. This exercise can help provide a fresh perspective and counteract the brain’s tendency to take things for granted.

2. You’re used to relationships that have more intense highs and lows. If your previous relationship had a lot of highs and lows, it may have felt unpredictable and the opposite of stable. Research has demonstrated that an increase in anxiety may contribute to increased feelings of attraction towards a potential partner than a person would have experienced otherwise.

People in unstable relationships often experience quite a bit of anxiety regarding what will happen or when the next relationship high will occur and as a result, may misinterpret these feelings as excitement. If this has been your experience, a stable relationship may feel boring to you. If you find yourself comparing your current relationship with your previous one, it can help to remind yourself of the reasons why the previous relationship didn’t work out and wouldn’t have been sustainable over the long-term. This can assist you in putting your current relationship into perspective.

3. A lack of novelty. In the initial stages of a relationship, partners are often trying out new activities, experiencing a heightened level of attraction to one another, and participating in fun dates. As the relationship becomes more stable, the excitement subsides. Our brains are hardwired to pay attention to novel stimuli, so introducing some novelty into your relationship and planning a new activity to try together can help reduce your tendency to take it for granted. Plus, research has shown that looking forward to the activity has the added benefit of contributing to even more enhanced emotions (such as joy, excitement, happiness, etc.) than the activity itself.

Some ways to reintroduce novelty into the relationship is to come up with a list of new activities to try together, new foods to test out with one another, or new places you and your partner want to visit.

4. A lack of intimacy. It’s no secret that although a relationship can start off with a great level of chemistry and growing intimacy, that this can change as stress levels increase and the relationship feels more stable. As a result, intimacy can begin to wane over time and one or both partners may feel bored. Some couples assume that talking about their sex life is a bad thing and ruins the mood when the opposite could be true. It can actually be quite fun and build up the anticipation in a playful way.

If a lack of intimacy is an issue in your relationship, consider carving out some uninterrupted time each week to reconnect with one another intimately. Keep in mind that being intimate is so much more than sex and can also include flirting, teasing, foreplay, and playful texts. Take turns talking about your fantasies and new things you would like to try in the bedroom with one another. Try making a game out of it by putting your ideas in a box, then each time you want to try something new, pick an idea from the box.

5. You have a different love language than your partner. Love languages refer to the different ways partners express their love for one another and include words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. People generally have a primary and sometimes secondary love language that represents the way in which they feel most loved by a partner. If you and your partner have different love languages, you may feel bored or disconnected from the partner if your needs aren’t being met in the way that helps you feel most loved. Knowing your love language as well as your partner’s can help introduce novelty and creative ways of showing you care about your partner, which in turn can deepen your bond, increase relationship satisfaction, and reduce feelings of boredom.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition or well-being.

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Boven, L. V., & Ashworth, L. (2007). Looking forward, looking back: Anticipation is more evocative than retrospection. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,136(2), 289-300. doi:10.1037/0096-3445.136.2.289

Dutton, D. G., & Aron, A. P. (1974). Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30(4), 510–517.

Lyubomirsky, S. (2010). Hedonic Adaptation to Positive and Negative Experiences. Oxford Handbooks Online. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195375343.013.0011

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