“The first kiss is magic. The second is intimate. The third is routine.”

[quote by Raymond Chandler]

So, it is the day after Valentine’s Day, and now we can talk seriously about love without offending anyone. My good friend and fellow grown-up partier Lizzy sent me a New York Times article titled New Love: A Short Shelf Life, that said this: New love only lasts for a short period of time, and then you are doomed to be unhappy (well it didn’t JUST say that, KEEP READING!).

When love is new, we have the rare capacity to experience great happiness while being stuck in traffic or getting our teeth cleaned. We are in the throes of what researchers call passionate love, a state of intense longing, desire and attraction. In time, this love generally morphs into companionate love, a less impassioned blend of deep affection and connection. The reason is that human beings are, as more than a hundred studies show, prone to hedonic adaptation, a measurable and innate capacity to become habituated or inured to most life changes.

Hedonic adaptation is most likely when positive experiences are involved. It’s cruel but true: We’re inclined — psychologically and physiologically — to take positive experiences for granted. We move into a beautiful loft. Marry a wonderful partner. Earn our way to the top of our profession. How thrilling! For a time. Then, as if propelled by autonomic forces, our expectations change, multiply or expand and, as they do, we begin to take the new, improved circumstances for granted.

Basically, WE JUST GET USED TO SHIT!

This article comforts and saddens me. I like knowing that it’s normal if I’m feeling not-so-passionate (the article also says that women lose interest in sex faster than men) , but it also makes me sad that science says we are doomed to take everything for granted. I see it all around me and not just with love, but especially jobs as well. I am convinced our generation will get bored and unhappy in ANY job after doing it for a year (but that is a WHOLE other post!).

But the article continues and I’ll paraphrase it for you:

So it’s natural (and scientifically guaranteed) to go from a passionate, rip-your-clothes-off love, to a partnership, companion-for-life love, but why does that feel like a let down? Because we are genetically engineered to want variety (damn you science!). Many people mistake that for incompatibility and unhappiness in their marriage and cheat, but really it’s just that you are getting used to shit (and it will eventually happen with that other person that you are sneaking around with if you leave your partner).  SO how do we fight this complacency? WE SWITCH IT UP. And not just by doing pleasurable things we already do (going to dinner with friends, movies, etc), because SURPRISE is the potent force. When something novel occurs, we tend to REMEMBER IT (versus all those nights where we just walked home, made dinner, and watched netflix. Those all blur together!). And “we are less likely to take our marriage for granted when it continues to deliver strong emotional reactions in us.” BAM! Every long-term relationship problem SOLVED!

So in honour of SWITCHING IT UP (and not just by watching House of Cards instead of Downton Abbey), Chris and I are going to do one new and surprising thing once a month (and I’d like to note that this is actually harder then it seems because I really do LIKE routine, but I need to recognize the difference between laziness and really wanting to spend a night in). We have started brainstorming ideas:

– doing our own performance art (yes we are really thinking about this)
– snowshoeing
FUSE at the Vancouver Art Gallery
– day trips to islands
– weekend trip to Portland
– month long trip to Italy (that is the big dream)

Got any great ideas on how to add some surprise into the relationship that doesn’t include attending a swingers party? Please share below! And I’ll do my best to share my experiences here on Grown-Up Party in some series called “Keeping It Fresh” or some other witty title!

Our last great adventure - camping in an RV in the Joshua Tree desert. We are committed to doing more of this!

Our last great adventure – camping in an RV in the Joshua Tree desert. We are committed to doing more of this!

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11 thoughts on ““The first kiss is magic. The second is intimate. The third is routine.”

  1. – Go to a circus camp
    – Learn a new language (ongoing)

    Once a month you guys should do a surprise day for one another! One of you has to plan an entire day/evening with surprises big and small.
    I do this with my friends a lot…for example once we watched a great new movie she wanted me to see that was filmed in Toronto and then went to the restaurant that most of the movie was filmed at. There were other elements to the friend date but it feels like so much fun because you have no idea what you’ll be doing that day! Loads of love cuz xoxo

    • Thanks for the reco’s Goa! And I definitely think Chris and I should switch off planning the dates so it is a surprise for one another! And I love that idea of watching a movie and then going to places it was filmed. Keep the ideas coming!

  2. Each take a turn spending a whole day (and night) ‘in silence’, and also a day and night with both partners ‘in silence’. We take our ability to communicate (with words) for granted. When we only use words, and are perhaps not totally listening to these words, we miss so much. We loose our connection. When we cannot speak or when our partner cannot speak to us, this heightens our awareness and sensitivities. A lovely new bond can form in silence. Personally, for me it is exposure therapy to understand that silence from my partner does not mean I am getting the silent treatment, and it is a reminder that the space does not always have to be filled with talking. A warmth and peace can creep into the space we create when we put words aside. I would suggest both partners spend a day/evening in silence around each other (perhaps after attending a day long retreat in silence for an introduction to the concept and practice of living in silence) and then take your individual turns. By then you will both be able to empathize with what the silent person is going through (ie experiencing peace etc.).

    • Thank you so much for this incredibly thoughtful reply and suggestion Trina. I completely agree that words often fall short of what we are trying to say or express. If someone is wanting to experiment or get an introduction to the concept and practice of living in silence, where would they go to learn more?

      • I gather that you are in Vancouver? The best place to learn about and practice ‘being in silence’ would be through meditation groups. These are abundant in Vancouver and almost always meet for free (or by donation). There are many different styles, like Vipassanna, Insight, too many to name, but all sharing the same basic roots. While meditation groups may reference their Buddhist roots, there is nothing ‘religious’ about these groups or gatherings. A review of meditation groups nearest you might lead to finding one that is offering sessions (best way is via a retreat) on learning more about being in silence. My BEST recommendation for learning and practising my suggestion, is to find a weekend retreat held in silence, ideally focusing on ‘Meta’ (sanskrit for ‘loving kindness’). A brief search shows that one is scheduled for Naniamo in May and another on Salt Spring Island in june, and that is just via this group http://bcims.org/retreats/residential . I accidentally stumbled into my first one (meta retreat), and it turned into a life changing experience for me. Meta retreats are always held in silence, from what I understand. Teacher speak for some of the time, mostly brief introductions to meditation, introduction to ‘living in silence’ (including tips on how to communicate for important moments when something needs to be ‘said’ , a brief written note is usually the recommendation). This seems to be a great resource for finding meditation groups in Vancouver (also seem to be many groups and styles I have never heard of on this list… ) http://meditation.meetup.com/cities/ca/bc/vancouver/ I am excited for you! It can really be a lovely experience, and I would LOVE to share it with a partner sometime… would lead to many magical and refreshing moments! Enjoy!

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