If you’ve ever been in a romantic relationship, you and your partner have probably experienced a lull at one point or another. While falling in love and going on dates at the beginning of a new courtship is exciting and downright thrilling, there are moments where the spark might go on a small hiatus.
Of course, this is completely natural. Relationships are about two or more people learning to navigate the hills and valleys of their connection, and it would be unrealistic for couples to believe that they would never trip over a few bumps on the road. But even though these bumps are normal, it’s how you and your partner choose to come back from these valleys that’ll depict the entire relationship.
“Coming back from a lull can be simple and even quick if both partners are invested in reigniting the relationship. If it’s just one partner that is bothered by the lull, it can take longer as needs will need to be asserted more than once likely to get the message across,” clinical psychologist Dr. Kim Chronister said. “But don’t underestimate the impact one individual can have on shifting the dynamic of the relationship. For example, one person can begin to give the other what they want (i.e. more conversation, more one-on-one time, more physical touch, etc.) and drastically shift the relationship as the other may begin to reciprocate.”
How the both of you choose to get out of the lull it completely up to you and your partner as what might work for the two of you, might not exactly work for another couple. However, clinical psychologist and author of Joy From Fear, Dr. Carla Marie Manly stated that it’s important to remember that relationships take work. Like anything in life, what we choose to invest our time and energy in will tend to grow and flourish. “As a result, it’s important for partners to invest in going out on dates, playing together, exercising together, and doing more of what they enjoyed during the early stages of the relationship,” she said. “This can include having deep discussions, exploring new places together, or creating fun-filled sexual time together.”
Truth be told, it can be tough to navigate a lull in a relationship, and it’s easy to even question your partnership entirely. But instead of giving up hope, you may want to dig your heels into the ground and ask yourself some tough and thought-provoking questions. Not sure where to start? We tapped Dr. Manly and Dr. Chronister to find out exactly the kind of questions you should consider. Here’s what they had to say:
“Is my relationship in a lull, or am I in a relationship I don’t care about?”
“This is a difficult question to ask, but it is an important one. In many cases, people get into a relationship because they are lonely, highly attracted to someone, or simply bored,” Dr. Manly said. And once the passion and newness of the relationship wear off, that’s when “they find themselves unattracted to—or even completely put off—by the person they are with,” she continued.
But once you’ve been able to answer it and if you realize the relationship is something you want to work on, steps can be taken to vitalize it. “When this is the case, it’s a great idea to talk to your partner—without blame or judgment—about your desire to create a more vibrant relationship together,” Dr. Manly said. Just remember to be tactful and avoid all-or-nothing language. You don’t want to attack your partner for not meeting your needs. Instead, you want to connect as a team to find out how the two of you can work on this issue together.
“What is missing? What do I need more of or less of to feel connected to my partner?”
According to Dr. Manly, this question will help you get to the root of what is making the relationship feel lifeless and dull. Ideally, you want to figure out the source of your lull. Do you feel disconnected because your partner has been distracted? Do you feel like they haven’t been putting any effort into developing sexual intimacy? When you discover the answer to this question, you’ll have a better chance of knowing the next steps you want to take to either better or extinguish the relationship.
“Am I giving my partner attention, and is my partner giving me attention?”
Being in a romantic relationship means that we desire the other person, sexually, intimately, and psychologically. And when we don’t believe that our partners our giving us the attention we desire, it’s natural for things to go south—especially, when they’re communicating with our love language. “This question is so important, for it often focused, caring attention to one’s partner that creates the sense of being in a lull,” Dr. Manly said. “Then, if one or both partners find that they are not giving (or receiving) attention, they can then ask the other partner to spend more time together, etc.”
Now, sit down and answer this together.
While the above questions should provide some clarity to your part of the situation, it’s also important to check in with your partner about their take. Because while your thoughts and feelings matter, it takes two people to truly make a relationship work. Dr. Chronister believes it’s a good idea to sit down with your S.O. and answer the below questions together. Doing it together will help the both of you be less defensive and focus on what could be better.
1. The Miracle Question: “If you could wake up tomorrow and you had everything you wanted in this relationship what would it look like.”
2. What do I do that makes you feel loved?
3. What did we use to do that was exciting that we fell off of doing?
4. If you could make one change in how your partner treats you, what would it be?
5. What is the next adventure that you would love to have with your partner?
6. What are you grateful for in the relationship?
At the end of the day, you want to answer these questions, whether by yourself or with your partner, with honesty and tactfulness. “Otherwise, it can be easy to conclude that one’s partner is the root of the problem,” Dr. Manly said. “And, although lulls can occur as a result of only one person’s actions (disinterest, avoidance, etc.), it does take good communication, honest self-evaluation, and teamwork to get a relationship out of a lull—and to create a healthy relationship in the long term.” Well, we couldn’t agree more.