15 Jul When Opposites Start to Detract
Is the fun-loving comedian you fell in love with turning into the immature clown? Has your partner’s sexy confident manner become oppressive and overbearing? When exactly did the qualities you most admired about your significant other become those that irritate you the most?
Don’t worry, you’re not abnormal. There are real psychological reasons behind the rollercoaster ride we have with a partner’s differences. And there are also processes that can help bring the mutual attraction back.
Henry Dicks, in the Sixties, postulated that the attractive qualities we see in a love interest are precisely those that our parents rejected in us when we were growing up. For example, if we were chastised for being silly and constantly told to ‘grow up,’ we might find that forming a relationship with someone who is always playing the joker makes us feel whole again. We often term this unconscious attraction to another’s qualities as ‘chemistry,’ but there’s a whole lot of psychology going on there too.
But as we get used to being with someone, we take that feeling of completion for granted. We find ourselves thinking and speaking with our ‘inner adult’ voice and clamping down on those urges from the past. We start to crave similarity because that makes life easier and more productive. We wish our adventurous spouse would spend more time at home helping with domestic duties or would stop being so assertive and settle for a quiet life. In short, the attraction fades.
So what can you do about the situation? The trick is to realise the irritating ‘faults’ for what they are: exaggerations of the attractive qualities that brought you together in the first place. Try the following:
- Shake it up:
It is easier to break free of ingrained habits when you are away from the daily routine. Set aside a regular day or night for ‘couple time,’ where you focus on nothing but being together – no work, no children, no projects.
- Focus on the quality:
Whether you decide to spend a day in the countryside or an evening at the theatre or relaxing at home, make a point of recognising and appreciating that unique quality your partner brings. Was it their assertiveness and decisiveness? Then enjoy being able to relax and let them take care of the planning and organising. Are they the life and soul of the party? Then relish the way they lighten up the room and bring interesting company to the table.
- Communicate and work together:
If you find the above isn’t working and that you just can’t rekindle that initial attraction, you should try and be open about it. It is no-one’s fault that the relationship has changed but it is the responsibility of both of you to improve things. Perhaps one or both of you needs to reign back your natural personality a little to allow the other to express themselves more. Remember, the attraction existed once so there must be compatability there.
Still not Feeling the Attraction?
If you are finding the process above too difficult, or you feel that the two of you have grown too far apart, it is wise to seek a suitably qualified therapist to help you through the process.