According to biological anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher, love is “life’s greatest prize.” And she’s right. Or at least I’m assuming most people would agree with this statement. But while she says it’s the greatest, she’s also quick to add that it’s the “most addictive stuff on earth.” Because it is. The effect love has on the brain has been compared to the addictive high that comes with being on cocaine. So, if you’ve never done cocaine (and I do not recommend it), you at least know what it’s like: Being in love, especially new love, where everything just seems so perfect.
But then you settle into a relationship, the infatuation part of the love subsides and the attachment phase sets in. It doesn’t mean you love your partner any less; it just means that love changes over time just as much as long-term relationships change over time. And changes and changes. These are not bad things at all. It’s just the progression of love and life and your relationship with your partner. It’s actually a good thing, because you can’t keep up with that infatuation stage forever — that's some exhausting stuff. Besides, you want your relationship to evolve.
Here are seven ways being in an LTR changes over time. But first, check out the latest episode of Bustle's Sex and Relationships podcast, I Want It That Way:
1. You Stop Being Fanatical About How You Look
I don’t think I can count all the times I deliberately got up before my partner, in the early stages, just so I could brush my teeth and try to make myself look good. But I also don’t think I’m alone. As your LTR changes, you realize that your partner isn’t all that offended by your morning breath, and if they are, they’re more than happy to tell you — in a loving way, of course.
2. You Start Doing Things That You Would Have Never Done In Front Of Them Before
Peeing with the door open. Farting. Bleaching your upper lip. Picking at your zits — and their zits for that matter. All of it is stuff that comes with a long-term relationship and these are good things. You’re being completely yourself.
3. Your Communication Gets Way Better
Even those who are very communicative in the early stages of their relationship learn to communicate better as the relationship changes. Things that may have seemed off limits before or you were too uncomfortable to share are suddenly out there in the open. You’re more honest in how you communicate.
4. You Begin To Spend More Time Apart
It’s not that you don’t want to be with them, but that you’re secure enough in your relationship and have reached a point where you don’t have to be together 24/7. You finally get to go back to having lives of your own, but know your love is at home waiting for you.
5. You Start To Show More Of Who You Are
Not only are you showing the stuff that you probably wouldn't have showed early on, but you’re also revealing more and more about yourself every day. Even when you and your partner think you know each other best, something new is uncovered and it’s like a never-ending discovery process.
6. Intimacy Starts To Shift
Although your intimacy is more intense in an LTR, the way you show it changes. You don’t feel the need to cuddle every single night in bed, you don’t have the urge to hold hands every time you walk down the street, and you probably don’t even say “I love you” as much as you once did. You’re just reached a point where you’re feeling confident and know that the physical (or verbal) stuff isn’t necessary to show someone you love them or to be in love with them.
7. You Both Feel At Peace
When you're settled in an LTR, you are at peace. You've reached maximum comfort, maximum love, maximum security, and it just feels awesome. Doubts and second-guessing go out the window and you're in a comfortable spot. While you may have felt cozy in the beginning, it's not the same coziness that comes with the evolution of a long-term relationship. That coziness is the real deal.
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