Why it is hard to stay in love
I can remember my first kiss.
It was on a lazy Sunday afternoon at the popular East Coast Park in Singapore, facing the sea. We were both 18, with no experience with the opposite sex.
There, at a certain moment in time, I found her arms around me. I went in for my first-ever kiss.
As our lips locked, it felt…exactly like dry lips touching each other. There certainly wasn’t any magical feeling.
“What was that all about?”
“Maybe we didn’t do it right.”
“Let’s try again!”
So we did, for the rest of that sunny afternoon.
When I remember the times in my life that I have been in love, this is one of those times.
I remember the adventurous attitude. I remember the lack of judgment and expectations, and laughing at each other and at ourselves. I remember just being in the moment together and enjoying the present.
I’ve begun to see that staying in love depends highly on keeping that attitude.
Why it is hard to stay in love
When we first fall in love, everything is new and exciting. What she does in her job, what he does for his hobby, it is all so fascinating that it distracts us from our possibly mundane lives. He or she introduces possibilities, and that’s always sexy.
As time goes by, the distraction subsides, and we focus back on our own lives. The fact is that what we do everyday, eating sleeping working is the reality of our lives. Whether we know it or not, that is the adventure we chose for ourselves. Does our partner choose the same adventure? That is an important question.
It doesn’t help that society likes to treat relationships like they are possessions. He has a beautiful girlfriend. She has a successful boyfriend. They have an amazing life. When you see your relationship as a possession, like your security blanket, you start imposing your expectations on it. You think that you are deserving of love and attention just because you are the husband or the wife. Conversely, you may feel “forced” to do certain things just to make the relationship work. And then you start thinking, why doesn’t this person excite me anymore? Is it any surprise?
You forget that being in love is not like ticking a box. It is more like two teenagers trying to figure out what kissing is all about.
A relationship is an adventure
Perhaps, it’s helpful to visualise a relationship as mountain-hiking adventure.
When you’re single, you get to choose which mountain you want to hike. Some mountains have nicer views from the top. Some have an easier trail. Some are for adrenaline junkies only. You could hike the first mountain you see, or you could spend a long time not hiking. It’s entirely subjective which mountain you want to hike. You could choose a mountain that has goats on it, just because you like goats.
When you get into a relationship, that’s like having chosen to go hike a particular mountain. It starts with optimism and good cheer as the breeze cools you down and the sun shines. You climb up with strength, and admire the valleys.
Inevitably, there are downpours, and days when you are soaked to the skin. You could say “Well, that’s part of the hiking journey, I’ll just go on.” Or, you could say, “Damn, it rains every godamn day on this mountain, I’m getting off this hike”. There is no right or wrong answer. If it is the latter, then it’s the end of this relationship. Getting out of a relationship is not unlike getting off a mountain: you can’t just jump down.
Over the course of hiking, some people forget that they are on an adventure at all. There are so many stories of people stuck in unhappy relationships and marriages. They walk aimlessly on the mountain trails, moaning, but refusing to get off the mountain.
And there are also others who are afraid of adventure. They don’t choose to hike any mountain at all because of fears that they’ll get hurt, or because they’re always looking for “the right mountain” to hike.
How do you stay in love?
Just as you can’t guarantee a hike that you’ll love with perfect weather conditions, you can’t guarantee that you’ll always be in love in a relationship either. But certain things help.
You deserve to be loved for who you are, warts and all. It doesn’t mean that you are perfect, or that you won’t change for the better, but it does mean that you can accept unconditional love, and you can give unconditional love too. You are not afraid to express yourself emotionally to those close to you. When you love yourself, you do what you enjoy, and you are not afraid to experiment, much like the first kiss.
Love the moment
When we are first in love, we’re excited to meet our date. We appreciate the moments together, even just hanging out. As time goes by, the administrative tasks that life demands of a more permanent life together might take over. It could be a focus on kids, it could be a focus on work, or sometimes even just a focus on the future, that makes you forget to enjoy and appreciate that moment that you have with your loved one. You are so busy thinking about something else that you forgot to appreciate the simple fact that your loved one came over to meet you (for example).
The present is all we really have. Being able to appreciate and admire your partner is a skill in itself. Consider starting a journal for all the ways you’re grateful for your blessings in life. If you’re unable to appreciate your partners, it could be a sign that you should look deeper into the problems in the relationship.
Always remember that you’re on an adventure
Always remember that you’re on an adventure! Find joy in your own path in life, and others will enjoy it with you.