If you've been with your SO forever, then you may have noticed how long term relationships change over time. The way you act with someone years into a relationship is completely different than the way you act with someone you only just met. Your comfort levels change, and you get to know each other on a much deeper level.
A perk of the LTR is being able to be your truest, grossest, most genuine self with someone who loves you all the same. And once you reach this point, it can feel like the blissfulness will go on forever. But it's totally common for even the comfiest of relationships to experience some ups and downs as the years go on.
Sometimes your head-over-heels passion starts to wane, probably because one, or both, of you is taking the relationship for granted. According to Sonja Lyubomirsky for Psychology Today, "When love is new, we have the rare capacity to experience great happiness ... We are in the throes of what researchers call passionate love, a state of intense longing, desire, and attraction. In time, this love generally morphs into companionate love , a less impassioned blend of deep affection and connection. The reason is that human beings are, as more than 100 studies show, prone to hedonic adaptation, an innate — and measurable — capacity to become habituated or inured to most life changes, positive or negative."
Don't let the end of the honeymoon phase throw you. It doesn't mean you and your SO are doomed, but that you're starting a new kind of relationship — one that has a ton of perks, but also some things that require a few adjustments.
Here are some ways that LTR can change over the years.
1. You Get More Adult Responsibilities (And Sometimes It's No Fun)
When you first start dating, the biggest decision you make is which restaurant to go to for dinner. But in long term relationships — especially once you've moved in together — you find yourself making all sorts of crazy adult decisions. One day you guys are innocently splitting the tab for fries and a milkshake, and the next you find yourself paying electric bills and talking about buying a house. What happened!?
2. Self-Consciousness Is A Thing Of The Past
On your first date you may try to be neat and polite and order a salad. A few weeks into dating, you're both well past the awkwardness of eating in front of each other. And once you're a few months in, you find yourselves cuddled up grubbing out of the same ice cream tub. It's true that with time, the little things you were once self-conscious about become a thing of the past. This is true for pretty much everything you worried about in the beginning of your relationship. It all fades away in favor of comfy familiarity.
3. You Can Totally Read Each Other's Minds, So There Are No Secrets
When you spend a lot of time with someone, you start to pick up on their little eccentricities that give away their deepest inner emotions. It begs the question, "can couples read each other's minds?" (Because it really does feel like it's possible.) According to an article on the topic in Research Magazine, "Empathic inference is a form of complex psychological inference in which observation, memory, knowledge and reasoning combine to yield insights into the subjective experience of others." That's a lot of fancy words for how "mind reading" actually works. Basically, if you spend a lot of time with someone, you can pretty much figure out what they're thinking. So the next time your girlfriend looks some type of way, don't be surprised if you immediately know what she's feeling.
4. You're Cool With Chilling At Home
As you get comfier in your LTR, you'll find that both of you really love staying in. After all, what's the point of going out when you're already hanging with your favorite person? Of course, you should still make an effort to go on a real date every now and then, but the desire to stay in together is something that definitely gets stronger the longer you are together.
5. You Sometimes Need Some Space, And That's OK
When you're with someone 24/7, it's totally OK to need some time alone. And this becomes more necessary the longer you are together. According to Maria Fitzpatrick for The Telegraph, "Developing a relationship with yourself, deepened by solitary pursuits, hobbies and taking time out from work and relationships, will pay huge dividends with your partner. You will come back to the relationship refreshed, more able to express your needs (as you’re more likely to know what they are). We will always ultimately be a mystery to each other — it’s more healthy for this to be acknowledged, celebrated even, than denied."
6. You Realize Your Partner Can Be Wrong
When you first meet someone, you think they can do no wrong. But then you get to know them and realize (sometimes with shock and horror) that no one is perfect. According to Fitzpatrick, "Expecting someone to be everything you need and everything you are not is a recipe for disaster. We all make mistakes, particularly in our love-lives, as relationships are never easy. But if you can exercise forgiveness in small ways at the start of a love affair then you’re more likely to find ways to forgive the bigger hurts and transgressions, if and when they happen."
Long term relationships have their ups and downs. Enjoy being in your comfy LTR, and know that any bumps in the road are totally normal.
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