“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.”
~ Mandy Hale
It isn’t uncommon that partners’ behaviors towards one another change as they settle into a relationship.
The start of a new relationship is often filled with lots of passion, novelty, and excitement. In the beginning, there is an urge for each person to show off their best selves.
Many women feel like their new partner puts in a lot of effort into the new relationship. Perhaps planning special dates out, bringing flowers, or prioritizing her over his friends. After some time, some of these behaviors may dwindle and one may wonder why.
Once a man feels like his relationship is secure he may pull back.
It’s possible that this may leave you, the woman, feeling insecure and wishing for the spark to be rekindled.
Figuring out how to talk to your man about this can be difficult. But it so important to find a way to do so and find a way to get your needs met.
Do you need more intimacy? More sex? More dates? More hand holding? More gifts? Whatever it is that makes you feel loved is okay to ask for.
Remind your partner that part of what you fell in love with him for was how he showed his love to you in the beginning.
Be understanding that it may always be different than the beginning, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a middle ground. Recognize that it is important for him to also prioritize things like his work, family, and friends, but also you.
Can he set a weekly date night? Can he promise to hug and kiss you every morning and night? Can he cook and clean up after dinner? Can he sit with you and listen fully as you process your day with him? Can he rub your feet at night?
However it is you feel loved and appreciated, ask for that.
Check in with yourself too and see if there’s ways you’ve put less effort into the relationship. Can you find more ways to reignite the spark on your own end too? It can be empowering to do more yourself and then see how he responds.
Remembering your relationship is a two way street will help you continue to feel active in your relationship rather than sitting back and waiting to see what he will do. Keep putting in the work yourself and ask for him to do the same.
Rachel Armstrong, Psy.D. – www.rachelarmstrongpsyd.com
“It seems like he doesn’t care the way he used to.” “It’s as though he thinks he doesn’t have to try anymore.” “I feel like I’m giving a lot and getting very little back.”
You’re not alone if you’ve thought something like this.
Before you bring it up to your partner, you want to be clear on what your beef is.
What, exactly, has changed? Accusing him vaguely of “not making an effort” requires interpretation, and unless he’s a mind-reader there’s a good chance you two might not be on the same page (and might not even know it).
Great recipe for conflict.
Define the problem.
Has he stopped doing the dishes every night? Has he not put the moves on you in three months? Does he hide away in another room rather than try to spend time with you? Has he replaced “I love you, too” with “same here”?
Next, figure out what you make of that.
What’s the meaning, or the story you tell yourself, about his changed behavior? Does it elicit fears that he’s not the thoughtful partner you thought he was? That maybe he’s putting effort into someone else? That he has a problem with you he’s not sharing? That he’s overworked at his job, maybe depressed?
Maintain cognitive flexibility – the ability to maintain wiggle room about what you believe to be true until you have sufficient and solid data.
Remember – you don’t know what’s going on inside of him; you just know what you’re worried is going on inside of him. Big difference.
Now you’re ready to bring it up from a place of curiosity rather than fear and anger.
John Gottman points out that 94% of the time the way a discussion starts determines how it will end, and that 80% of the time women are the ones to bring up conflict.
So listen up, ladies! Use a soft startup.
Soft startup- Gottman’s term referring to an approach that shares an observation without judgment, that is based on complaint (which is about a behavior) and not criticism (which is about character), and is aimed to share concerns and gather information rather than accuse and shame.
“Hey hon. I noticed you haven’t been doing the dishes at night like you normally do. Everything okay?” will lead to a more productive conversation than, “Ugh! Do you expect me to cook and do the dishes now? What is up with you?!”
Think of the soft start skill – and communication in general – as the door to the library or toolshed.
It alone won’t solve the problem, but without it you won’t get access to the things that will.
Erica Blystone, LCSW – www.wakeadultcounseling.com
It can become worrisome when it seems like your partner isn’t putting in as much effort as they used to. It’s common to question whether they still love you or are interested in you.
Frankly, social messages about love are primarily to blame here.
It’s important to understand that there are many different kinds of love. The Ancient Greeks even had 8-9 different kinds of love they identified. Unfortunately, the culture we live in promotes romantic infatuation or that “in love” feeling as the most important and the highest form worth pursuing.
However, this kind of love has an expiration date for ALL relationships, which is a big secret all the love stories keep from us.
This does not mean the love that comes after is any less than the warm fuzzies, instead, it can mean more.
You have a secure, emotional base that is unconditional! Seeing the love you have for the wonder it is and understanding how love changes can help managing emotions when you feel the effort is lacking.
Additionally, talk to your man about what you’ve noticed.
It’s not necessarily something he is doing on purpose. After being with a partner long term, we fall into a certain comfort level and don’t “try as hard” to win over a lover. This doesn’t mean that he loves you any less. Far from it!
Instead, his deep love for you is more rational and unconditional, and the flip side of this is that it sometimes requires thought to show our love.
When we are swept up in infatuation we show our love in all five of the love languages (words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, gifts, and quality time).
After a while, we tend to speak the languages that mean the most to us. Unfortunately, if partners are mismatched (aka have different love languages) it can feel like they aren’t putting in the effort and we are left feeling unloved. So have a conversation about it.
Take the Five Love Languages quiz to learn your languages and how each feels most loved by the other.
As each other what you do that makes you both feel most loved. Incorporate check-ins by asking how your partner, and vice versa, would feel most loved that day. Make the conscious effort to learn and show your love in the way that the other will best receive it.
Finally, speak his love language as much as you can.
When our partners feel more loved, they show more love. You don’t even have to tell them you’re doing it. This reciprocity is not a quid-pro-quo situation. Instead, it simply means that when we feel more loved and appreciated we are so moved to share our own love and appreciation with our loved ones.
Heather Gillam, MS, NCC, LMFTA – www.sisulumicounseling.com
To feel changes occurring in your relationship when your partner isn’t making as much of an effort as he used to is discouraging and disappointing. Being in a relationship is a marathon, not a sprint.
Many people are not fully prepared to continue putting forth effort in the long run in order to keep a relationship healthy and fresh. There could be a few different reasons for why your partner isn’t putting in the work that he used to.
1. He doesn’t need to.
It is all too common in heterosexual relationships, even in 2020, where we fall into old-fashioned gender roles. If you’ve started doing all the cooking, all the cleaning, managing your bills, planning your date nights, and so on, then no wonder he’s not putting in the work himself! Now you may be thinking to yourself, “I’ve only been doing all this because he won’t and hasn’t been.” Fair enough.
But the only way to make a change is to first create opportunities for him to do more and to tell him what you would like whether that’s him bringing you home flowers randomly or picking up his laundry off the floor. After you talk, take a step back and see if he steps up; this will tell you a lot.
2. The two of you are in a difficult season.
Even in the best of relationships, there tend to be months (or sometimes years) when the spark isn’t at 100% and it typically tends to happen in conjunction with big life events (moving, changing jobs, having a baby, etc.). It takes time for us to find new routines and to feel like we have our footing again. If this could be a factor for one or both of you, be patient, but also don’t be complacent.
You want to make sure you’re not falling to the bottom of his priority list with the changes that are happening! Let him know you understand things being different but also offer little suggestions for things he could do that would help you feel special again in the midst of the chaos.
3. He doesn’t want to.
Unfortunately, if it’s this reason, this is a problem that can’t be solved by you and may lead to your relationship ending. If he is no longer interested in going on dates with you or showing you love/affection in other ways, this is of high concern.
This may be because he has an avoidant attachment style or simply is not fully understanding of what it takes to join his life with yours in a meaningful, long-term way.
If you talk to him about your concerns and don’t see any changes, his actions are speaking louder than his words, and the relationship may be over.
Michelle Henderson, MA, LMHC – www.nextchapter-counseling.com
Do you feel like your partner doesn’t make an effort anymore?
Here are four questions to ask yourself:
1. Is he bored with the relationship?
Is he taking you for granted or are you taking each other for granted? Do you treat him like a special person, and do you make a special effort for him?
If you are, and he is not, he may have gotten complacent because he is bored with you.
Ask yourself whether you are doing your part to keep the relationship interesting.
Are you seeking new experiences, activities, and relationships together? Are you both growing together?
Try to infuse some new life into your relationship and see what happens.
2 Is he capable of sustaining intimacy?
Some people are excited in the beginning phase of a relationship when everything is new and shiny, but do not have the desire or the ability to sustain intimacy on a long-term basis with the same person.
Ask yourself whether he is committed to working on the relationship and growing the intimacy, or whether he even wants it at all.
If you do, and he doesn’t, you will have some difficult choices to make. Otis better to be honest with yourself so that you can evaluate your options and create what you want in your life.
3. Is he depressed or experiencing other life issues?
His lack of interest in you may have nothing to do with you. He might have clinical depression, or be struggling in some significant area of his life. If this is the case, and it is temporary or situational, he is likely to return to normal once the issue is resolved.
Encourage him to seek help if he needs it, and show your love by weathering a low season in your relationship.
Things are not always going to be the same, and if you are together long-term, you will go through each other’s ups and downs and stay together through thick and thin.
4. Is he willing to communicate and work on the issue?
If he is willing to talk with you openly about what is going on and expresses a willingness to do whatever work is necessary to improve things, it is worth staying with him and seeing this through until you both get to the other side.
We all go through ups and downs in life, and there are times when we need to work through things and wait it out. As long as he is willing to work on things, stay in there as long as you can.
Anita Gadhia-Smith, PsyD, LCSW-C, LICSW – www.drgadhiasmith.com
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