A new romance means big excitement. But, it all seems to fade as time passes. Why?
Think back to when you and your partner first met. Can you recall the nervous excitement you felt whenever you saw each other?… What about the loving looks and affectionate touches? Can you remember the times you spent together, the places you went, and the things you did? Do you remember how exciting that was?
It all seems to fade as time passes. Why?
Hot like fire
A new romance means big excitement. There’s a scientific explanation for it: The brain releases testosterone and estrogen, which combine with adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. New lovers feel excitement, pleasure, desire, and increased energy. They need less sleep and eat less food too! Does any of this sound familiar? This phase lasts six to 18 months, and occasionally as long as three years.
The direct effect of the daily grind
If the romance lasts long enough, a couple eventually makes a life together. Real life involves commitment and responsibilities… housework, dealing with office politics, childcare, yard work, paying the bills, raising the kids, car repairs, gym time, managing relationships with extended family members, and more. The passion fades and romance becomes a distant memory. Routine, stress, and routine stress may translate into less energy for our partner, our relationship, and sex.
Sex versus intimacy… and how to get more of both
People have different motivations when it comes to sex and romantic relationships: loneliness, infatuation, physical desire, companionship, and more. Our need for intimacy – sharing true connections with other people – is a huge part of what psychologist Abraham Maslow called “basic” needs. Maslow was interested in learning about what makes people happy and the behaviours they engage in to achieve happiness. His theory was that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to more advanced needs. People start at the bottom of the pyramid shown below and then move up the pyramid as their needs are met.
Sex and intimacy are important basic needs. They’re often viewed as interchangeable, but they are not the same. The physical act of sex can help strengthen a couple’s connection, but intimacy involves emotional closeness. Intimacy is the connection that allows a couple to share their inner-worlds. Intimacy develops, and deepens as a result of the way a couple interacts, the amount of quality time a couple spends together, and the activities they share.
Your relationship’s level of intimacy
Consider the questions below. They can help you see where the level of intimacy in your relationship may need a little work:
How can sex happen more often? Here are some ideas:
- Date nights: Date nights are a chance for couples to disconnect from everything else in their day-to-day lives and connect with each other instead
- Flirt: In a new relationship, flirting includes laughter, loving glances, and lots of touching. Flirting is something you can continue to do throughout your relationship.
- Arrivals and departures: Make arrivals and departures affectionate.
- Create the mood: Ambiance is key. You can use things like candles, music, sexy lingerie to set the stage for action.
- Pamper and spoil: Whether it’s buying your partner a gift you know they’ve really wanted or just giving them a neck rub, the more your partner feels appreciated, valued, and loved, the more they’re likely to want to get it on with you.
- Communication: Ask questions, tell your partner what you need, and be brave enough to venture into the awkward zone.
1. YourAmazinBrain.org: The Science of Love
2. WebMD.com: Timeline of a Love Affair, 2015
3. About.com: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, 2015
Paula Quinsee is a Relationship Expert, Tedx speaker and author of the self-help guide Embracing Conflict. Paula is also a consultant to the TV show ‘Married at First Sight SA’. She works with individuals and organisations to cultivate healthy relationships in both personal and professional arenas by focusing on real skills and personal growth and development. Go to www.paulaquinsee.com for more info.