Oh, if only the tingling would last forever … Couple counselor Eric Hegmann explains to us why this is a pretty nonsensical wish in a relationship – and what is important instead.
In the beginning he is alone, hesitantly sits down on a branch of the heart, looks around. The next time he’ll bring a few friends with him and before you know it, a whole horde of butterflies has settled in your stomach, attracted by the sweet nectar of fresh love.
If they rob us of sleep and appetite at the beginning, we will have got used to their existence after a few weeks. They have become popular roommates, whose fluttering floats us through everyday life and is able to lift our spirits. We are all the more indignant when the butterflies gradually decide to move on. At first they only come back on special occasions. And at some point they seem completely gone.
By this point, most couples have been together for a while. You know each other, you are familiar – but are you still in love ?, the one or the other may secretly ask himself, while he: She lies with the landing net in wait for the last butterfly. Once the tingling sensation in the stomach is gone, some try to pull it back compulsively. Others question their relationship. And still others are happy to finally be alone in his body again.
The latter are probably the safest way to travel. Because when we wanted to know from couple counselor Eric Hegmann how we can get the tingling back in the relationship, he told us that we should better refrain from this plan. Because reviving the butterflies could not only be difficult – it is also not necessary, after all, love really starts after the flutter phase. Well, he has to explain that to us first …
Some think that that was it with love and are looking for new partners with whom they can experience the feeling of elation again. But actually it is only now starting.
After the initial phase, many people question their relationship: is it really over when the butterflies have retired?
Eric Hegmann: Relationships run in phases. You start with being in love, with limerence, when the partners can’t get to know enough about each other. Typical symptoms during this time: excitement, curiosity, brooding, enthusiasm, desire and the fear of rejection. When all of this comes together, being in love is no longer just pleasant, it can also be painful. Then confidence building follows. And now the body is already reducing the production of love hormones, some then think that that would have been it with love and are looking for new partners with whom they can experience the feeling of elation again. But actually it’s only just starting now. The third phase is about commitment and loyalty. The longer the relationship lasts, the lower the risk of separation.
Actually, we are now in the love phase. You just know: Nothing will throw us off course so quickly. This calm and serenity is expressed in the feeling: We belong together and have arrived.In short: at some point many people no longer feel the butterflies, but in the happy couples they are replaced by a deep bond, which can also be shown in studies. In long-term couples who see each other again, those areas of the brain are activated in which being in love is also recognizable. Even if it feels different, it is by no means less valuable.
How do you deal with the conflict of wanting to be yourself in front of the other – but not to let yourself go?
One approach can be the thought: Casual, but not careless. Most want a relaxed get-together. At the same time, however, it should be recognizable that the partner is involved and committed to the relationship. If someone tries hard, this is usually seen as positive as a commitment to love. To experience that the loved one would like to do something good for me of their own free will makes me automatically confident that my efforts will be appreciated and I invest myself. In addition, there is the fact that those who neglect themselves and, for example, do not pay attention to their health, are a reason can be of concern. Who would want their partner to get sick? The point is to signal: I am making an effort that we will still have a lot of fun together in ten or twenty years.
At the beginning of a relationship, it’s easy to invest 150%. That shouldn’t subside too much later, if the love is supposed to last. Maintaining relationships doesn’t have to be exhausting, but when it becomes it, it needs a little more incentive. In the end it’s worth it.
It is a good thing that we do not experience the exceptional situation of the initial attraction continuously. We couldn’t ‘function normally’ at all. It will be different, but it can also get a lot better.
And is there any way to revive that initial attraction, be it sexual or romantic in nature?
The initial attraction does not come back exactly as it was, because growth is part of love, when this deep feeling of connection and security and security comes from being in love. Anyone who tries to maintain the limerence phase makes it very difficult and forgets that time cannot be stopped. It is a good thing that we do not experience the exceptional situation of the initial attraction continuously. We couldn’t “function normally” at all. It will be different, but it can also get a lot better if you say goodbye to the idea of wanting to hold onto a status quo that cannot be held onto. Life and love are change.
How can this arrival in the phase of connectedness be recognized?
The deep bond of a couple is shown above all through positive, friendly communication. An example: A couple is walking through the city. She says: I’m cold. He offers her to take her to her favorite café to warm up. That is responsive, caring, and creative. But if he says: Yes, that’s right. It’s cold, then that’s neutral communication that signals significantly less recognition and attention – what we want from our partner. And if he says, if I didn’t tell you to put on a jacket! Then that’s averted communication. As long as you speak gently, the relationship is fine. If it is turned away, you will statistically fail 90 percent.
Can I still save something then?
Effective communication can be learned. I and many colleagues offer live online seminars, courses and relationship coaching. The sooner couples secure their connection, the more permanent it will be. It is better not to wait until there is a real crisis, then unfortunately the chances are worse.
As a couple, invest equally in the new and the tried and tested. Proven to cultivate and celebrate the feeling of familiarity and security, and new things to experience and experience each other again and again in new situations. This also includes sometimes leaving the comfort zone and giving yourself a little nudge to get out of energy-saving mode. This may be difficult at times, but it’s worth it!
Eric Hegmann is a couples therapist, singles and parship counselor, and founder of the Modern Love School