To understand what makes a couple change their dynamic in a long term relationship, it is necessary first to divide pre-conquest from the post-conquest. The first stage is where you find the desire to have another person. With this comes novelty, adventure, risk, mystery, danger, and surprise; all of these are part of the emotional need of uncertainty that every human being craves and which ultimately can only be found in the unknown. The second stage is simple when you already have the person you once desired to have. This is where love arises, by making the transition from an emotional decision to a rational decision to supply the need for certainty. Security, predictability, safety, dependability, reliability, and permanence come from what you already know. After all, these aren’t things you can expect from someone you just met.
It is essential to realize that there are duality and conflict of internal interests. See what gets people engage in the first place becomes the antecedent of what it is offered once we arrive at the second stage. It is not like we want more one than another after we all need a mixture of certainty and uncertainty in our lives. However, it seems clear that you can’t get both desire and love. Or can you? The more exposed you are to couples that have been together for a reasonable amount of time, the less you realize that a passionate marriage seems to be part of science fiction. After all, it is a contraction of terms; the wedding was initially set to provide a partnership for life, kids, social status, succession, and companionship. The problem lies in hoping to receive both belonging and continuity, transcendence and comfort, novelty and familiarity from the same person.
The question that arises when wandering more in-depth into the transformation of the erotic relationships is, why does good sex so often fade? If we can agree that Love represents the verb “to have” due to how it provides mutuality, reciprocity, protection, and worry. On the other hand, desire describes the verb “to want.” Then the critical question is, how can you purposely nurture to want that which is already yours?
According to Ester Perel, the relationship psychotherapist, there are two main situations where long time couples feel drawn to a partner. First, it comes as a result of temporal absence. This is when they give themselves the space to reflect, find each other individually, and find organically that they miss the experience of sharing with their loved one. The second case happens when the person sees his/her partner radiant and confident. When they show their qualities to the world and reflect their capacity of being self-sustaining. Performing on stage, making a group of people laugh in a social event, showing their care to someone in need, standing up for something he or she believes. It is then where oneself can observe how the person who is so familiar becomes again mysterious and elusive from a comfortable distance.
There might not be any accessible exits to the conflict between love and desire “to have” vs. “to want.” Mystery and novelty don’t have to be found only in new places but rather in everyday spaces as long as we find a way to look with fresh eyes, the same experience, site, or person. To conclude, it seems like there is value in reconnecting to oneself in the absence of the other. Neglecting your relationship often comes as a result of ignoring oneself in the first place. The question for you is, can you bring space voluntarily into the relationship to remember what did it feel to be once without the other person? Can you reinvent yourself to bring something new once in a while to the relationship? Can you stop and wonder if it is possible to look with fresh eyes at your partner’s efforts to evolve?