You watch Bridgerton, and you wonder why is the chemistry between you and your partner not similar to that of Daphne and the Duke. During the initial days of the relationship, you and your partner were crazy in love, but the romance wore off as the time wore on. And all you are left with is a boring relationship with maybe a few days filled with excitement once in a while.
You ponder over the question, “where did everything go south?” But I can’t find the answer.
Well, you are not alone. Each one of us goes through the same phase at some point in a long-term relationship. Our partner hadn’t necessarily done anything horrible, but we still feel a growing sadness about the character of our relationship.
Our partner isn’t as focussed on us as we hoped, and there are times when they don’t even understand us properly. They are often busy and preoccupied. They’d rather spend time with their friends than talk to us. And all we could hear is Harry Styles singing, “You know it’s not the same as it was.”
I asked Dr. Aditi Paul, a sex and relationships professor at Pace University, New York, why love is not as lovely as it should be, and here is what she has to say.
“The love stories we see on the screen are make-believes. We know that it is not true, but the heart wants what it wants. We know Bridgerton is a lie, but our minds wonder, I know it’s a lie but what if things were like that? And that becomes very uncomfortable when you don’t see that reflected in your life. I would recommend people rehash that sense of awareness that whatever we see on screen is not true. Not to say everything you see on screen is bad, but this mysticism we create around what “true love” should feel like based on those idealized scripted stories is dysfunctional. And be very aware of parasocial relationships. A parasocial relationship is when you become so emotionally involved with a celebrity or a fictional character that you cannot see the difference between reality and fiction. Practice mindfulness so that this does not happen.
Secondly, read some books on real love stories and read some accounts of therapists’ books to become aware of how real relationships work. For example, the content creator Lisa Bilyeu is extremely transparent about what it takes to be in a real relationship. She talks about relationships are work and not just #Goals. Get these reality checks on how relationships work and create your relationship prototype in that way.
Thirdly, ask yourself, do I like the men that are shown in these movies, or do I like the writing of their characters? Sometimes, the person who has written that character is a female, For example, the iconic characters of Bridgerton have been written by Shonda Rhimes.”
In the 13th episode of the 10th season of Big Bang Theory, Penny complains that Leonard has stopped trying in their marriage. He has stopped bringing her flowers and even wearing pants. Penny is not alone. Most women complain that their partners stop putting in effort after marriage.
Dr. Aditi said, “Keeping our partners’ interest in us in order to sustain a relationship should never be our goal. We are not a TikTok algorithm to keep the other person glued to us. Ask yourself – you are still invested in your partner. Did your partner have to do anything to sustain that interest?”
We often become very comfortable once we get the commitment of our partner because we think we have them locked and loaded. Having an honest conversation is always the key. When you both sit down to talk, don’t think it is me versus you thing, but we versus the problem. The problem here is that you don’t feel appreciated the way you used to feel during the initial phases of your relationship. Instead of telling your partner that they are becoming sloppy by the day, tell them how their behavior makes you feel underappreciated and how that affects the quality of your relationship with them. Rather than making it a characteristic trait, present it as a behavioral trait.
And if you are at the receiving end of this difficult conversation, I would suggest you resist the urge of becoming defensive. Instead, hear your partner out, validate their feelings, and then work together to come up with a solution that takes your relationship to a better place,” she concluded.