When it comes to having certainty and variety, can both needs be met in long-term relationships? I’m not really sure.
When I was in my late twenties and I thought of love and marriage, I thought about someone being all in. Loving me included being my best friend, being my super-freaky sexual partner, and being there for me when things went wrong (sort of like a great dad would be).
I envisioned myself sitting with my husband on a wrap-around porch, well into our years, sipping our favorite beverages and still making each other laugh. That doesn’t sound so bad does it?
We all want to feel secure, safe. Once we finally acquire a monogamous relationship, in it we find what we were looking for: Certainty. Whew, we can breathe. We’ve got our lifelong everything. Date for the parties and any event, confidant, partner-in-crime, shoulder on which to cry and AWESOME sex partner.
But now that we have caught our breath and settled into our monogamy, what’s next? Certainty is solid and on point, we feel significant and loved, but … what? Usually what happens is we find ourselves tapping our fingers to the rhythm of dissatisfaction, because complacency and familiarity have quietly crept into the relationship. The excitement and anticipation that we once felt with our partner is gone. There seems to be a void. Now we want variety. Let’s shake this thing up because we have become too predictable.
It seems that certainty is not enough. But why isn’t it?
According to bestselling author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Tony Robbins, passion in a relationship is measured by the amount of uncertainty a person can handle. When our partner is new to us we are full of anticipation and wonder. Excitement is always close and it provides us with a rush. That usually doesn’t occur once we’ve established certainty. Security creates predictability leaving no room for uncertainty or variety.
According to Esther Perel, author of "Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence," her book says "Love seeks closeness but desire needs distance.” She goes on to explain people become fused, and when they do, there is no longer another person to connect with. A prerequisite for connection is separateness, and Perel says “this is the paradox of intimacy and sex.”
So how do we keep that feeling of certainty while having the excitement or variety we desire from our partner? I suggest three things:
1. Avoid fusion, and keep your individuality. Being close doesn’t mean you can’t keep your mysterious air.
2. Be kind. Remember this is the person you love.
3. Make the time you spend together count. Have meaningful conversations which can spark an exciting connection. Experience something new together, take a cooking class or explore a location neither of you have been. This may inspire and translate into something new or exciting in the bedroom.
Dr. Wielenga works as a Life, Relationship and Wellness Coach. Her practice is in Long Beach, CA