Do you ever find yourself
feel ing a little bored in your relationship?
In today’s episode, you will learn the science behind relationship boredom, why it is is normal and natural, and how to get out of it.
In fairy tales, lovers who endure the ups and downs of courting are rewarded with the most cherished prize: "happily ever after". Anyone who has been in a relationship that has lasted more than a year or two, knows it doesn’t quite work like that.
Science indicates that our romantic bliss has a limited window.
This is largely due to something called "Hedonic Adaptation," or a human being's innate ability to adapt. In the simplest sense, Hedonic adaptation is when our brain pays less attention to familiar information.
Have you ever noticed that your 5th bite of dessert doesn’t taste quite as good as the first one? That’s Hedonic Adaption. Now I’m not saying you stop eating it, you’re just used to the taste by then.
More than 100 studies have shown than humans are prone to hedonic adaptation for major life events too. Whether you get a raise, win the lottery, get fired, or get married, over time, you will return to the baseline level of happiness you experienced before the major event.
Put simply, people get over bad things and get used to good things.
Unfortunately, we adapt more quickly to positive events than we do to negative ones. For the sake of survival, that is just how we are wired. Once something is safe and familiar to us, it gets less attention from us.
This is a valuable evolutionary adaptation - familiar and safe things fade into the background so that our attention can be drawn to any signal of danger that we need to pay attention to. Without this you wouldn’t be here.
Your ancestors would have died off fat and happy and eaten, a long time ago.
Hedonic adaptation prevents complacency. Without it human beings would never have had the desires to create, invent, or innovate in the beautiful ways that make us uniquely human.
It also indicates that we will take positive experiences for granted.
So what does this mean for our love lives?
Hedonic adaptation implies that, if it is not interrupted, we will take our partners for granted.
We will become desensitized to our partners; our senses will not be as aware as they are the first time we touched, kissed, or were intimate with our partner.
“The first kiss is magic. The second is intimate. The third is routine.”
- Raymond Chandler
Are the best of times really behind us?
Science tells us that if left to chance, our default mode of hedonic adaptation will set in and we are likely to get used to our partners and bored in our relationships.
For me, this just won’t do. I am interested in an epic kind of love. I want to remain “in love” with my husband for the rest of my life.
Good news, there is a silver lining. Hedonic adaptation is both the problem and the solution!
It drives us to do two things: to get used to things and to keep striving.
So keep striving. Keep growing. Your relationship only gets boring when you do!
Here are my Top 3 Strategies for Breaking Out of Relationship Boredom
1) Create new positive experiences together:
Keep creating new experiences. When you notice you’ve fallen into the same habitual routines. Shake it up. Go do something new together.
Go do something fun, exciting, and ideally a little bit dangerous, or at least thrilling. This will literally heighten your senses while you are together.
Studies have shown that we develop strong bonds with people that we do exciting activities with - activities that release adrenaline, dopamine and oxytocin in our brain.
A favorite professor of mine once said “If you’re bored, you’re probably boring.”
Stop being boring. Go and do something crazy and new together!
'If you're bored, you're probably boring" - Ron Close #lovesmarter
2) Use your relationship as a growth tool
Always be learning. Learning about your partner and learning about yourself.
If we are constantly growing and expanding, then there is no time for the complacency to set in. Following this blog is a great start. You're going to learn relationship strategies you can apply every day.
A relationship is a lot like a business, it’s either growing or dying. So choose growth.
Pay attention to how you are behaving in your relationship and what kind of results you are getting.
3) Raise your happiness baseline
Studies have shown that overtime several “well being” activities increase your baseline level of happiness.
Now, this doesn’t stop hedonic adaptation from setting in, but what it does do is increase your overall level of happiness day to day.
This is REALLY valuable.
This is both a short and long term play. It’s short term, because these activities both feel good in the moment and enhance our overall health.
The Long Term Play is actually adjusting neural patterns in our brain that increase our overall level of happiness for the long term.
So what are some of these activities? Meditation, exercise, and clean eating.
In future posts, I’ll go into a lot more detail in these activities and teach you other hacks to really drive up your happiness baseline.
For now, pick one of these and turn it into a daily habit.
You're a trooper for getting this far into my marathon post. Let me leave you with this:
If your relationship has been in a lull, don’t fret, relationships are full of peaks, valleys and plateuas.
It is normal and natural for things to not be amazing all of the time.
What you do when you notice that you are on a plateau is what matters.
When you are feeling bored, dull or less than inspired - that is the wake up call.
That is the adaptation. It is the sign letting you know that you had stopped paying attention for a little while.
That sense of boredom or restlessness is your relationship screaming at you saying “Wake up! We need you!”