Routine in a relationship is the natural order of things. It appears at some point in most relationships we form. Toxic relationships are the exception. Paradoxically, it is in these relationships that partners do not complain about boredom. They fund an emotional rollercoaster that stimulates and excites them. This makes it difficult to get out of a relationship that is damaging, because the relationship seems ‘exciting’ to the brain. Mutual desire becomes inflamed and insecurity, accompanied by obsessive thoughts about the other person, is sometimes mistaken for love. This does not mean that we should pursue extreme emotions to prevent the fire of mutual fascination from burning out. Instead, let’s take a look at what causes boredom in a relationship and how to counteract it. Initially, we want to spend every free moment with each other. When something spoils our plans and we cannot meet our loved one, we feel frustration and anger. There is a strong longing that we try to soothe by calling and writing to our partner. We experience many fascinating moments together. The other person constantly surprises us with something. We enjoy discovering their colourful personality, habits, views and values. Everything seems so unique and new. Boredom in a relationship occurs when the infatuation phase is over. Our brain is then no longer flooded with the chemicals responsible for obsessive thoughts and desire. The rose-tinted glasses fall from our eyes; we then see our partner as he or she is, not as we imagined him or her to be. In both parties, the motivation to go out together, go on dates and have conversations decreases. The partner seems predictable. Boredom in a relationship is often exacerbated by moving in together. The mundanity of life then catches up with us. Suddenly, we are spending a Saturday afternoon cleaning the flat together, even though up to now we have eaten dinner out or had passionate sex. This moment is very difficult for many of us. We miss the excitement of the beginning of our acquaintance, so the feeling seems to have burned out. A relationship crisis promotes the search for happiness outside and increases the risk of infidelity. Fortunately, we can counteract it.
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Routine in a relationship covers many aspects of our lives, including:
-spending leisure time;
-the belief that our partner no longer has anything interesting to say to us;
-going to the same restaurants;
-going to tried and tested resorts;
-spending all our evenings watching films together.
Boredom narrows our thinking, makes us move along the beaten paths together. Our caresses, expressions and restaurant choices seem so predictable. Excitement, excitement and desire disappear somewhere. It is only up to us to decide whether routine in a relationship destroys it or whether we introduce an element of vitality.
Boredom in a relationship what to do
Is routine in a relationship always a bad thing?
Routine in a relationship has a bad reputation. We assume that when it creeps into our relationship, it blows it apart from the inside. It is a destructive factor that leads to the breakdown of the bond and the disappearance of mutual desire. As much as we would like to constantly feel butterflies in our stomachs, this is not possible. Unless we opt for serial monogamy. Moving from relationship to relationship will provide a breath of fresh air. Nature has specifically ensured that the love high ends after a year, two years at the most. If we thought obsessively about our partner all the time, we would not be able to focus on work, raising children and relationships. Our civilisation would not progress. The love high stops at some point and creates space to deepen the relationship, to take it to a higher level. Boredom in a relationship does not always mean something bad. A lot depends on being aware of what it stems from and how we can partly chase it away. Cleaning the flat together can be made more interesting by talking to each other or flirting. Let’s treat shopping in the supermarket as an opportunity for jokes, which often come up on their own when we see some of the occasional accessories. To some extent, the routine in a relationship is its solid foundation. It provides us with a sense of emotional security. If we are aware that we love our partner with reciprocity and can count on him or her in every situation, our arousal level is optimised. We then enjoy better health and well-being. It is worthwhile to ensure a balance between routine in the relationship and a breath of fresh air. It is good to see your partner as a support and a safe haven. However, try to avoid situations where we profess love and have sex in a mechanical way. A relationship that is based on autopilot begins to die over time. It is not harmed by the predictability of tomorrow, e.g. family dinner every Sunday, watching a TV series together at 9pm etc. The biggest danger is a lack of genuine interest in the partner and resistance to sharing new experiences with them.
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Boredom in a relationship – what does it mean?
Routine in a relationship is not always bad and cannot be avoided. Certain activities become repetitive rituals that build a sense of security. By knowing and trusting each other’s bodies, we can have a satisfying sex life, as long as we sometimes ‘spice it up’. Boredom in a relationship – what does it mean for each partner? This is where discord very often arises. It can happen that we see stability and security in it, while the other party feels tired of it. Our approach depends on many components, including attachment style, childhood, previous relationships and our personality. Extroverts tend to feel a greater need for novelty than introverts. This is due to the biochemistry of the brain. An extrovert has a slightly more active dopamine system, which is fuelled by new challenges. An introvert, on the other hand, is more strongly influenced by acetylcholine, which is responsible for calmness and tranquillity. He tolerates change less well, making the status quo more likely to suit him. Routine in a relationship becomes dangerous when we stop talking to each other and lose interest in our partner. Then we start to focus our attention and energy externally. We may thrive professionally, but we also feel tempted to get involved with someone who provides us with a thrill of excitement. While relationship boredom that has not managed to dominate our relationship is not a serious threat, chronic boredom leads to the breakdown of the relationship. We will not eliminate it completely from our lives. Certain rituals become repetitive, such as getting ready for work, having dinner together, doing the dishes and watching the news. It is important to find valuable time for ourselves in between. Use it to get to know your partner, their emotions and needs. It is not enough to discuss them at the beginning of the friendship, as they are constantly evolving. Let’s “update” our database.
When does routine in a relationship occur?
Routine in a relationship occurs in most healthy relationships. Individuals who have a healthy personality structure provide emotional security and this encourages ‘laziness’. We start to believe that we have gained a partner and will always be together again. This approach often proves disastrous, as we lose our natural curiosity and stop trying for the other person. Her need to be important is not satisfied. This creates the risk that she will try to fulfil her expectations outside the relationship. Boredom in a relationship usually appears after a year, two years or a little later. Initially, we feel a mutual fascination and try to satisfy all the needs of our partner. We become involved in the relationship and nurture the bond. Later the love high wears off, very often we then decide to live together. Initially, we struggle with our differences and look for a way to adjust our rituals or work out a compromise. We argue about tidiness, where the TV should stand etc. This arouses strong emotions, but these subside over time as we start to function according to the accepted rules. Then routine creeps into our relationship. Not all of us get bored in a relationship at the same time. Sometimes we still feel a mutual fascination after several years. This is facilitated by:
-a long distance relationship;
-living apart and dating;
-uncertainty about your partner’s feelings;
-the insecure attachment style of one of the partners;
-a relationship with a narcissist/partner with a borderline personality.
Although the thrill of excitement seems desirable, it naturally diminishes over time. Some people feel it before every conversation with their partner, but very often this is indicative of the weakness of the relationship rather than its strength. Underneath what we perceive as excitement is often a fear of rejection or the other person’s reaction.
Routine in a relationship – symptoms
When a relationship rut sets in, symptoms usually include:
-a loss of desire, fostered by the constant repetition of the same roles;
-treating your partner as a permanent part of your everyday life, which does not require any activity on your part;
– a lack of deep conversations with one’s partner, raising general issues concerning the organisation of daily life;
-use of electronics during shared conversations and meals;
-a sense of monotony that comes from repeating the same activities every day;
-a lack of excitement at the thought of going out together, having a weekend away or having dinner out.
Where does boredom and routine in a relationship come from?
To a certain extent, boredom in a relationship stems from the biological conditions of the human organism. We have the ability to habituate, that is, we become accustomed to stimuli, even if they initially arouse strong emotions in us. This allows us to function normally, remaining within the window of tolerance. Initially, we were anxious about the war across the eastern border, so we nervously browsed reports from the front on our smartphone. This carried a tangible cost in terms of reduced productivity at work. Habituation also affects our relationships with other people. Although we initially perceive a partner/partner as extremely intelligent/intelligent, over time he/she seems ordinary. We cannot non-stop feel excitement when thinking about the other person. Otherwise we would run out of resources for other activities. This does not mean that routine in a relationship is to be welcomed with open arms. To a certain extent, it is inevitable and even beneficial. For we want to have a safe haven in our partner, to which we can return every day, despite the many storms on the ocean of life. On the other hand, an excess of it proves harmful. A happy and satisfying relationship is based on balance. I have mentioned many times on the blog that we strive for a balance between the need for connection and autonomy. There is also a similar situation with routine and a whiff of freshness. We need both elements to derive satisfaction from a romantic relationship. Boredom in a relationship often stems from taking for granted that a partner has bestowed lifelong love on us and is given to us once and for all. We then stop making the effort and commitment to the relationship. A false sense of certainty makes us lazy. We talk to each other less and less about deeper topics. We think we know perfectly well what our partner feels and expects from life. We forget that everyone changes because they are shaped by different experiences.
Boredom in a relationship – how to break the routine?
Boredom in a relationship has set in – what should we do? I hear this question very often from my female patients. Many of them try to save their relationship by attending couples therapy. During couples therapy, they rediscover each other, which fosters a renewed fascination for each other.
What is the magic of couples therapy?
An endless list of responsibilities means that we lack time for deep conversations and shared activities. We start to operate on autopilot. We assume that our partner will not leave us and that his love is permanent. We mechanically satisfy his or her needs – for closeness, sex, affection and interest. We ask how his or her day was at work, but we don’t listen to the answer. We kiss our partner on the fly as we leave for work. Couples therapy proves effective in many cases because it encourages people to slow down. Partners who come to my office reserve their time for this. They finally find a space where they can talk to each other about deeper topics. At the same time, as a couples therapist, I moderate the course of the meeting. I make sure that each party adheres to the principles of open communication based on assertiveness. A conversation only makes sense if it is based on openness and respect for a point of view different from our own. We do not all have the right communication tools, but in therapy we can acquire them and learn to use them. We can break the routine in a relationship by doing things outside the usual script. I have included examples below as a handful of inspiration.
-Swap a Sunday lunch eaten at home for a picnic by the lake.
– If you always go to an Italian restaurant for a date, this time go to a Greek, Croatian or Georgian restaurant. Shared experiences bring you closer, especially when you are experiencing something for the first time.
-Replace your holiday trip to Kołobrzeg, to which you have become accustomed over the years, with mountain hikes in the Tatra Mountains.
-You can easily get rid of routine in the bedroom when you talk openly about your needs and erotic fantasies. The mere exchange of proposals has a touch of spice, because it breaks the pattern. Try something new. You can buy erotic lingerie or implement toys from the sex shop. Testing new positions and having sex in an unusual place, such as on the kitchen counter, also gives good results. Create your own erotic language and send spicy messages to each other.
-Turn off your smartphone and TV when you are eating a meal or talking. Let nothing distract you from what matters most. Electronic devices are distractions that make it impossible to focus on what your partner is saying.
– Find a hobby together that helps bring you closer together. Doing exciting things together strengthens the bond.
-Surprise your partner and wear clothes you rarely wear when you go on a date to a restaurant. If you rely on jeans for everyday wear, slip into a dress. Don’t wear make-up? Highlight your eyelashes and lips. Sometimes a small change makes a big impact, because by taking care of yourself, you show that you still care about the other person.
Boredom in a relationship seems inevitable, at some point routine will creep into a relationship, which is due to habituation. We become accustomed to stimuli, even when initially accompanied by butterflies in the stomach and a faster heartbeat. This allows us to function in a state of optimal arousal. Excessive leads to the depletion of limited resources. Routine in a relationship becomes dangerous when we stop caring for each other and lose interest in our partner. We then do not feel the need to introduce a breath of fresh air into an ongoing relationship. However, this does not mean that monotony serves us, especially when it involves all aspects of life for two and is chronic in nature. It is never too late to chase boredom out of a relationship. Just make time to talk to each other about your emotions, dreams and needs. Keep an open mind and remember to respect differences. You may disagree with something or look at an issue from a different perspective, but your partner has a right to their own position. Open communication based on assertiveness often leads to the discovery of an unknown facet of your loved one. It thus strengthens the mutual fascination. Routine is worth breaking, by changing the beaten paths you follow every day. A trip to the mountains instead of the seaside, dinner in a restaurant instead of at home, a dress instead of trousers, sex in the bath instead of in bed. There are many solutions, often based on small gestures, that allow you to bring a breath of fresh air into your relationship. By practising various diversifications, you will rekindle your desire for each other.