Relationships have their own natural ebb and flow. When you first get into a relationship, you are giddy with the possibilities that a fresh romance presents. You go through a honeymoon period when you can’t get enough of each other, when finding out each new quirk about your new love interest seems like the most fascinating and fulfilling activity you could possibly engage in.
As the sparkle wears off your relationship, however, you can find yourself in a phase that is less exciting, and sometimes confusing: the burn out. Burn out is a risk especially if you are the type of person who cannot get enough of a new lover and wants to spend every minute with them. Once the newness of your lover wears off, and the lust has faded a bit, a certain amount of distance and recovered autonomy is natural.
When this shift occurs, it can make you rethink your relationship: what does it mean that the hot sex has cooled off? Is this a sign of things to come? What if her quirks become more annoying than endearing? Is this the end, or is it simply a plateau in the relationship that you have to get through to get to the next level?
It is sometimes difficult to tell if a waning in your interest (or your partner’s interest) is signalling the fact that you are not compatible, or whether you just need to let your relationship evolve into a new entity. There are natural stages in your relationship that will happen, and how you react to these new interactions will most likely point you toward the source of the shift.
One thing that is apt to change is the amount of time spent together. Once the heat of the first few months has died off, it is natural for both of you to try to re-establish some focus on your friendships that may have suffered in the competition for your attention. This does not necessarily mean that you like your lover any less. It simply means that, now that you feel relatively secure in your relationship, you want to try and figure out what parts of your old life can fit into this new “relationship” life.
It is natural and healthy for you to want to hang out with your friends. If your lover disagrees with this statement, and has a problem with you spending more time with your friends, then you need to be clear and stand up for your right to maintain friendships outside of your romantic relationship. This doesn’t signal a huge problem unless she cannot respect that.
What might signal a bigger problem is if you are spending more time with your friends in an attempt to spend less time with your lover. True, friendships need time invested to be maintained, but if you find yourself using friends to replace the majority of time you previously spent with your girl, you are giving your girlfriend the signal that you don’t want to spend time with her. If you truly would rather spend time with your friends than you would with her, then perhaps you should cut her loose to find a guy who likes her company.
The other consideration is what you are doing with the guys during your time together. If you are engaging in activities that you know she wouldn’t be comfortable with (like watching strippers) or that she might consider disrespectful (going out to flirt with other women), then maybe you should consider the possibility that your interest in your girlfriend is waning and you’re just keeping her around until something better comes along.
Another signal that you have left the honeymoon phase is that the two of you are getting into more arguments. This is also a natural phase in relationships if you consider this: many people, when they first enter a relationship, are on their “best behaviour”, meaning they let some things slide that they are not cool with, or they don’t really speak up for what they want in the relationship. Certain patterns can emerge, and when one partner decides to suddenly start asserting his- or herself, it can cause confusion and arguments. This is just the next phase in getting to know your partner.
However, there could be other reasons you are fighting. The first could be that parts of your lover’s behaviour that you found quirky before might just irritate you after a while. If you find that you are more often irritated by your lover than you are enamoured with her, it could be that now that the lust has worn off, you are less interested. Another possibility is that you are picking more fights in an attempt to get her to do the dirty work. Whether it is conscious or not, a classic passive-aggressive move is to act like a dick in order to push your lover into doing the dirty work of breaking up. It’s an easier (although not painless) way to get out of having to make the decision.
Finally, when sexual appetites change, it can be worrisome for one or both partners. While some couples claim to keep up the voracious sexual appetite that accompanies the first few lustful months of a relationship, more likely, your sex life will taper off. Certainly, this can be cause for concern. Should it lead to a break up, though?
If the sex tapers off because your lives have gotten busier and you have settled into a more comfortable pattern, then no, it is not an automatic flag. If you want to have more sex, then you have to keep romancing your lady. If you find that you are simply not interested in sex, however, then you should ask yourself why. If everything else is fine, and both of you find that sex is an important element to keep alive, then you need to figure out how to re-light the spark. However, if the reason that you are not having sex is that you spend more time irritated with one another than you do trying to get into each other’s pants, then it’s likely a symptom of bigger issues.
Relationships can change quickly and they can change in increments so small that one day you are happy, and then it is suddenly a year later and you can’t remember how you got to where you are. If a relationship, or your feelings toward your lover, change significantly, it will start to emerge in your daily interactions. When you notice the shift, don’t shove it aside and hope it will get better. If you think the relationship is worth saving, meet your changing behavior head-on and be proactive, either in changing to relationship, or getting out.