7 Things That Keep You & Your Partner From Growing Apart, According To Experts
Learning how to grow together with your partner is the key to making a long-term relationship work. But the reality is, people change and evolve as time goes on. Some do it faster than others. In some cases, that growth and change will lead you and your partner on different paths to the point that being together doesn't make sense anymore. But according to experts, that doesn't have to happen. There are some things you can do to keep you and your partner from growing apart.
"It’s important for you to continue to explore how you can adjust your mindset and update your approach to your partnership," Denise and Shane Faddis, relationship experts and authors of the relationship workbook, Project 128, tells Bustle. "Just like in your career or exercise routine, a relationship requires you to adjust and adapt as you evolve and grow."
For most couples, the Faddises say a lack of love is rarely ever the reason behind why couples drift apart. Instead, it's a decline in the amount of time and energy individuals spend on their relationship. That's why it's important to keep putting in the effort within a relationship to make sure it thrives.
So here are some ways to keep you and your partner from growing apart, according to experts.
1. Be Curious About Your Partner's Needs And Behaviors
"It's more challenging to stay connected when one partner is a cat and the other is a puppy," Dr. Diane Strachowski, Ed.D, licensed psychologist and relationship therapist, tells Bustle. "While the the cat needs space, the puppy needs closeness and reassurance." Over time, these little differences in competing needs can create conflict, frustration, and distance. Instead of giving into your frustrations, try being curious. Get to the bottom of why your partner acts the way they do, or why they like the things they do. "Assume the best and don't take their behaviors personally," Dr. Strachowski says. "When both parties feel they are understood, ideally the couple can relax and not worry."
2. Have Self-Awareness
If you want to have a lasting relationship, it's important to build a strong foundation early on. As Leigh Isaacson, relationship expert and co-founder of Dig — The Dog Person’s Dating App, tells Bustle, a strong foundation is built on trust, connection, and real compatibility. In order to have that, you need to be honest with yourself first. What do you really want in a relationship? What do you have to offer your partner? "Self awareness is a key trait of lasting relationships," Isaacson says. "Understanding your tendencies, your love language, your strengths and your weaknesses will help you foster a more compassionate, trustworthy, and healthy partnership." When you and your partner are honest with each other about yourselves and your expectations, it will help you have good communication long-term.
3. Create Rituals
In order to keep your relationship from growing apart, create rituals that you can do together regularly. According to relationship therapist, Margo Regan, these rituals don't have to be anything big or time consuming. In fact, you probably have some already. Just think about what you two already do as a couple. Do you make it a point to have dinner together every night? Do you have date nights every Friday? Do you greet each other with a kiss whenever you come home from work? "All of these rituals are important because they form attachment," Regan says.
4. Fight Productively
It's no secret that having good communication skills will keep your relationship from growing apart. Having good communication in your relationship includes knowing how to fight productively. "Couples that avoid conflict because they don't want to move out of the 'honeymoon phase' are couples that suppress feelings and emotions for fear of being different," Regan says. It's important to remember that conflict is OK. In fact, fighting the right way can help to strengthen your bond. According to Regan, it can also help you understand each other a lot more.
5. Practice Radical Acceptance
"One method for having a long and happy partnership is practicing the art of radical acceptance," Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio, tells Bustle. This means accepting life as it is, and resisting the urge to fight things that you can't change. In a relationship, it means accepting your partner for who they are. For instance, if you've learned throughout the years that your partner has a habit of being late, accept it. There's no use in causing another argument over something you know you can't change. "Just radically accept it as how they are," Scott-Hudson says. "In healthy partnerships, both partners radically accept the other partner, quirks and all. You stop trying to change their essential nature. If you're lucky, they’ll give you the same leeway."
6. Try New Things Together
All relationships fall into a routine at some point. It's never really a bad thing — it just means you've reached a level of comfort. But comfort can easily turn into boredom. "Because you've gotten so used to being with your partner, it can get very easy to take them for granted," Celia Schweyer, dating expert at Dating Scout, tells Bustle. "Once you’ve had this mindset that they’ll just be there as usual, slowly, you can create a distance by not cultivating the relationship as much as you used to." One easy way to fix this is to try new things together. Try a new restaurant every other week, take a class geared towards couples, or get away together for a weekend every few months or so. "It doesn’t have to be some kind of big romantic gesture. Small things can also make a difference," Schweyer says. "What’s important is, you never stop making each other feel loved."
7. Be Kind To Each Other
If you want to keep your relationship from growing apart, be kind to each other. It's such a simple thing, but many couples forget how important it is over time. Being kind is as easy as saying, please and thank you. It's all about complimenting your partner and doing something thoughtful for them. "It's important to show kindness as much as you can," Deanna Fernandez, MHC, NYC-based psychotherapist, tells Bustle. "It goes a long way and helps couples make 'deposits' in the love bank so that they have fuel for the rough times, or 'withdrawals.'"
Maintaining a long-term relationship isn't easy. Many couples end up failing because they grow apart with time, not together. But if you make it a point to nurture your relationship by doing these things, you can maintain your closeness for years to come.