[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)
– 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!