4 Ways Relationships Change Over Time That Are Nothing To Worry About — And 3 That Are
For the most part, relationships are always the best when it's new. You're super crazy about each other, you only know each other's "good" sides, and it just feels great. Although we all know relationship inevitably evolve, it can still make you wonder why relationships change over time. But according to experts, there are certain relationship changes that are absolutely nothing to worry about.
"It's important to recognize that relationships go through seasons," Noelle Cordeaux, relationship coach and CEO of JRNI, tells Bustle. "The crazy endorphins that come with new love last for only 12 to 18 months."
If you feel the high of new love starting to wear off, Cordeaux says it doesn't necessarily mean that your relationship is in trouble. Instead, it's entering a "new phase of maturity" where partnership takes over the chemical side of things. As time goes on, you can look forward to a deeper connection that's based on emotions rather than sex or attraction.
"It's verbal connection that keeps folks together and deepens their capacity for pair bonding," Cordeaux says. So whenever you go through any kind of relationship change, always remember to communicate. "It will light up and grow the part of your brain that cements lasting relationship," she says.
So here are relationship changes that are common and ones that you need to be aware of, according to experts.
1. Texting Becoming Less Frequent Is Common
Texting back and forth all day and even all night are fairly typical in the early stages of your relationship. As Cordeaux says, texting delivers those dopamine hits. You know how that goes. Every time your phone vibrates or dings, that rush of excitement goes through you. When texting starts to drop off, it can cause you some concern. But there's usually nothing to worry about. It's completely common, especially if you're physically with each other every day. If you've found other ways to check in with each other on a daily basis, therapist, Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW, tells Bustle, it's all good.
2. If Your Communication Style Turns Defensive, That May Be Something To Worry About
We all know communication is important to making a relationship work. But if your communication style starts including any of Dr. Gottman's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (i.e. criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling), Cordeaux says that's a big red flag to watch out for. "It's important to look at your own behavior in relation to the four horseman," she says. "If you find yourself being overly critical, or mocking, unreasonably defensive, or engaging in stonewalling, which is basically turning away from the relationship," this may not be a good sign. It's also a good idea to keep your eyes open if your partner suddenly starts communicating with you in any of these ways.
3. Sex Not Being The Same As It Once Was Is Common
If there's one thing you know will change over the course of your relationship, it's going to be related to sex. Don't be surprised or too alarmed if sexual frequency starts to diminish after the newness of your relationship wanes. As Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford, PhD, Founder and CEO of Family Matters Counseling Group, tells Bustle, stressors or life changes that occur, may contribute to this change in your sex life. In addition to that, you may even have a change in your preferences. "As you become more sexually involved, one partner or both may experience changes in their sexual interests and desire," she says. "Things you've done in the past may seem too routine, so you may want to change things up by becoming more risqué, having more intimacy, or having unexpected/unplanned sex." Whatever you and your partner are most comfortable exploring, go for it!
4. If Going On Social Media Makes You Question Your Relationship, It Might Be Something To Worry About
"It's pretty case-specific, but social media use tends to go up when loneliness sets in across the board but sadly this tends to lead to more feelings of isolation and comparison to others," Cordeaux says. When you're super excited about your new relationship, going on social media may not affect you in negative ways. But if you're going through other people's photos and you start comparing your relationship to theirs, that's not exactly healthy. When you start to think about things that you're lacking in your relationship, it's going to create distance. "Just remember, if folks share lots of happy pics on social media they are actually less likely to be in a truly happy relationship," Cordeaux says. "If it looks curated, it probably is."
5. Needing More Alone Time Is Common
Wanting some time for yourself after you've surpassed the honeymoon phase it completely OK. "This is absolutely normal as it is important to stay connected with yourself, have personal time and interests that may not always include your partner," Dr. Bates-Duford says. So don't freak out if you get some alone time and actually enjoy it. Needing time for yourself and giving your partner space to do their own thing is important in keeping your relationship healthy. It only becomes unhealthy when you spend a majority of your time apart and the closeness is no longer there.
6. If You Find It Difficult To Relate To One Another, It Might Be Something To Worry About
As time goes on, people change. That's inevitable. Maybe you didn't want kids when you met your partner, but years later, you decide that's something you'd actually want in life. Or maybe you have big ambitions in life and your partner can't seem to grow up. Whatever the situation may be, some couples just grow apart. If you and your partner can't seem to relate to one another anymore after having several conversations about it, Dr. Bates-Duford says that's something to be aware of.
7. Feeling Like Your Relationship Has Become Boring Is Common
When you've been together for a while, it's almost inevitable that you will become a bit bored with your routine, Annie Wright, LMFT, licensed psychotherapist and clinical director of Evergreen Counseling, tells Bustle. That's typical because things like attraction can ebb and flow over time. Even though it may seem like a red flag to be aware of, Wright says it's completely common. "A permanent state of attraction or unilaterally positive regard or even feeling in love with your partner is a pretty high and unrealistic standard," she says. "It can be helpful to remember that, much like gardens, our relationships are similarly like living things and, as such, have times when our feelings of love and attraction may lie fallow as well. This doesn't mean your proverbial garden won't bloom again in time. It just may take a little while and possibly some tending to."
Changes in your relationship are inevitable. While some are cause for concern, things like sex frequency or boredom, are normal and can be worked on. As long as you're aware of which changes are healthy and which ones are not, you can put in the necessary work to keep your relationship going for a long time.