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The Challenges of Long Term Relationships

On Relationships
About Vance Larson

I was talking with a perspective client the other night, and he made mention how his relationship of a few years has gone stale. He said, "you know, like every relationship that has lasted 10 years or so". I had to laugh. Not every relationship is doomed after 10 years. In fact, there are many relationships that last 10 plus years and they're thriving. Not only do I see this in my professional life, but 15 years later, my wife and I have never been closer.

I went on to talk with this young man about "Get The Got". I speak about this often. So many couples out there stop trying when they get the person they were dating. It starts when they stop going out and doing new and exciting things. They spend time together, but they're not together. They're on the phone or computer. They talk at each other and not to each other. They start spending more time with friends than their partner. The sex and or intimacy dies down. And finally, they no longer make eye contact. Now what? You lose "The Got".

I'm not sure if I was surprised that his perception of a long term relationship was just cohabitation. But the trend that I am noticing, is that younger couples lack the interpersonal skills that keep them engaged. This is not to suggest that older couples don't drift apart, because they do. But true intimacy seems to be a skill that the 30 and under crowd are having a hard time with. And I'm not just speaking of settling into a relationship. I am speaking of this whole "Netflix and chill" generation. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with going out and experiencing many people and having fun. (Just be safe.) In fact, I think it is really healthy. I am specifically speaking of those who have had those experiences and constantly complain that love doesn't last. Yet, when you ask them what they do to keep the relationship fresh, they say something like "I'm the same person I was when we started dating". That's great, but if you're the same person you were 5 years ago, what new skills are you bringing into the relationship? 

Relationships do not have to be complicated. Continue to invest in your "got". But take it a step further and invest in yourself too. So many couples grow apart because one is investing in themselves and the other is not. What I find truly interesting is that couples don't even have to have the same interests while they grow. They just need to grow. Just by becoming a well rounded human being, often excites their "got". Learning new things and having different experiences often brings couples together. 

Think about it. When you're first dating you want to know everything about the other person. You actually enjoy hearing their stories. What happens when you run out of stories and nether of you are bringing anything new to the table? Intimacy is lost. To keep your "got" you're going to have to grow. Be it together or on your own. We crave connection. But do we work on preserving it? We want intimacy. But are we willing to put the work in? We want a lasting relationship. But are we willing to treat our "got" like we still need to get?

I don't have all the answers. But I do know that if we want to keep our "got", we have to work for it. And we should. Part of the process is self exploration. Because if we are not calling ourselves on our own BS, we are leaving that task to our "got". And just as when we started dating, we showed up with our "A" game. Just because we have our "got", doesn't mean that they deserve any less now. 

 

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