Have you watched the TED Talk by Esther Perel on love and desire? If you haven’t yet, I would highly recommend watching it. She looks at couples in relationships and tries to find out if there is a way to keep that romantic feeling and desire in a long-term relationship. She asks the question: Can you want what you already have?
You may have met someone a couple of months or years ago at a bar, a cafe, a party, through friends. After a couple months of dating, you think, I’ve finally met someone who makes me laugh, who makes me smile, who I can’t stop looking at, who I admire, who I believe in, who proves me wrong, who is different to others. Little by little, you discover more about that person: what they love, what they don’t like, how they react, how they listen, what they care about, what their dreams are. The mystery of that unknown person that you first met slowly evaporates as you find out more. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Your relationship gets stronger. You get closer. You trust each other. That bond is tighter than it was before.
But how do you keep that romantic feeling and desire after months, years? If you have that person and you love them, where does that feeling go and how can you maintain it? Well, Esther Perel did the research in a large number of countries by asking couples in long-term relationships when they find their partner most attractive. And guess what she found out? The girlfriend, boyfriend, fiance, husband, wife answered: I’m most attracted to my partner when: I see them at a party, and others are drawn to them. It’s when they’re on stage singing. It’s when they’re playing sport. It’s when they’re in their element. It’s when they are doing what they love. It’s when they are doing what they’re passionate about. It’s when they’re confident.
It therefore appears crucial for your relationship to keep doing the things you love. To keep setting goals for yourself. To keep that dance class that you love. To keep playing rugby on Saturdays. To challenge yourself. To keep setting goals for yourself in your job, in your career, in your life. Don’t forget the things you are passionate about. That’s what makes you you! It can only make you more confident, happier, and satisfied with where you are in your life. How can that not improve your relationship? That person met you when you were independent, striving for more, setting goals for yourself, getting out of your comfort zone. Why take that away when that’s potentially the reason they fell for you. Stay true to yourself. As Esther Perel says, keeping that romantic spark and love is having: “the ability to stay connected to oneself in the presence of another”.